SME success from an SME veteran
18/Dec/2014 • International Trade•
When I was building Qweek, a workforce management startup, I spent a considerable time understanding small business operations. You can’t do that and not appreciate how much time and effort entrepreneurs put in their businesses, and how hard it is to succeed. I learned a few invaluable lessons, namely: the breadth of issues a founder has to cope with, the pressure of day to day operations, and the importance of a stable cash flow.
A business owner has to know everything – HR, sales, operations, marketing, negotiations, just to name a few. Whilst providing a great overview of the business, juggling priorities like this can get quite stressful and unproductive. One way around it is to plan your days into manageable sections focused on one aspect at a time. Internal or external support for specific tasks, like an HR consultant, is also a great resource.
It’s all in the small details of the daily operations. A missed shipment, or an unhappy customer, can seriously harm an SME and its reputation, because usually there’s no backup. Getting all details right and pushing in the right direction to further business growth is a huge challenge. One tip is to invest in a customer support structure, be that an internal process or a dedicated employee, so client relationships are strong enough to weather glitches that inevitably happen. It is important to emphasise existing customers, not just focus on new business. Build a base of loyal customers and you will reap the rewards.
Finally, cash is one of the most important barrier to growth. Having cash at the crucial moment can be the difference between making and breaking a business venture and often people can miss out by a small margin. Though the best and cheapest form of financing is sales, having a few credit lines established could be a good way for an SME to gain flexibility. Examples of those would be overdraft facilities, spot invoice discounting, import credit lines and the like. It’s important to choose sources of financing based on purpose – i.e. if this is just a backup resource, it’s cheaper to have pay-as-you-go facilities vs. the typical banking facilities that are expensive to set up and keep, even if not used.
Roman heads up Ebury Finance which offers flexible trade finance facilities, payment and risk management services. If you are interested in securing capital for your business, enquire online.