Small things change direction much more easily than their larger counterparts. If you’re going around a sharp corner at top speed, you’d rather be in a nifty sports car than a cumbersome people carrier. The same is true in business – this is an advantage smaller business have over their counterparts.

Although larger companies are usually better positioned to absorb inflated costs or withstand longer-term financial pressures, smaller enterprises are often much more agile and responsive to external changes. With less corporate red tape, more direct contact with customers and often more efficient communication, small businesses can be the masters of swift, flexible action.

In today’s fast-moving, unpredictable financial and political landscape, this ability to improvise isn’t just an advantage, it’s a necessity. Here’s how to grow your business by working effectively.

DEBBIE TAYLOR

One of our newest members to the network is Debbie Taylor who is a Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach.

In this article, she talks us through her key points for Smart Business Thinking for Growth.

You can connect with Debbie on LinkedIn.

Where to start…? Agility.

Agility is a word that has been used exhaustively in business. So, what exactly does it mean? At its core, ‘Agile’ is a way of working and thinking to get things done more efficiently with less wasted time and quicker solutions.

The fundamental key to being agile is preparation. Just like a simulated fire drill, you need to know where the exits are and how to get there quickly, so to speak. What will happen if the costs of materials skyrocket? How would a rise in inflation affect your borrowing potential? Having an idea of how you would respond to such fluctuations will give you a competitive advantage if the worst happens.

Another way to improve agility is by becoming more efficient. When operations run smoothly and take less time, implementing change becomes easier and quicker. This drive and desire to become more efficient is behind the trend for digital transformation,

Incorporating technology and digital strategies can include anything from implementing digital data capture software to investing in new tech so employees can work remotely. The more digital you become, the faster you can respond to market or internal changes.

Knowledge is everything.  If you know consumer tastes are changing or there’s a growing demand for a product or service, you can adjust to protect or grow your bottom line. With so much competition out there, failure to adapt in time could have serious financial implications.

Other ways to focus on growth …

While strategic changes, like becoming more agile, take time to implement, there are some key elements of small business thinking which can be instantly put into practice.

Speak to your customers….

One of the big benefits small companies have is the ability to have one-to-one, personal contact with your customer base. Ask your customers direct, specific questions to understand what they want or how they found your product or service. This type of information is invaluable, especially in areas like developing your product, expanding your service or improving your marketing strategy.

The more information you have about the people that spend their money with you, the better your chances of meeting their needs and enhancing their experience. It’s also likely to provide you with the information you need to grow your customer base.

Believe in ideas….

What is your point of difference?

Steve Jobs was best known for being CEO of Apple, but he also founded Pixar. And it was Jobs who developed the iPod and the iPhone, the latter ostensibly rendering the former obsolete. This idea of self-disruption was and remains key to Apple’s success.

Instead of just sticking to what he knew, Jobs was a pioneer for change and revolutionary thinking because of his vision and commitment to innovation. Small businesses and start-ups often place great emphasis on being ideas-focussed because they know that’s the only way to survive.

What is your point of difference?

Don’t be afraid to develop new, fresh ideas.  Have open conversations with your employees to share their thoughts and ideas. Make it part of your company ethos so that a commitment to innovation becomes part of the culture.

Don’t be ruled by fear…. Business start-ups and diversification

The very essence of start-ups is disruptive. By creating something that wasn’t there before or that could be done better, you’re embracing risk. Part of this culture in start-ups is simply due to the stage the business is at.

Could you diversify your offering? What can you do differently from your competitors?

Taking risks is an effective way to inject new energy and productivity into your business. Without it, you run your own risk – of plodding along with the same growth rate as five years ago.

Small businesses have the instinct to survive. They’ve often been established in the digital age and already have the mindset to innovate and adapt.

Be the leader you need to be

“Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humanness, courage and discipline” 

Sun Tzu

Do you have a clear vision, a common purpose for you and your team? If you don’t have a destination, how will you know if you are on the right track?

Work on the business, not just in the business, taking time to strategise, plan ahead, review progress and move forward is critical to success.

Who challenges your thinking and holds you to account?

As Charles Darwin said: ‘It is not the most intellectual or the strongest of the species that survives, but the one that is best able to adapt and adjust to the changing environment.’

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