For many UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the road is rough at the moment. We’ve spoken to our own expert members, and found some of the best resources on the web, to bring you these five tips for staying successful in a new and unpredictable world.
1. Embrace and expand your use of technology
According to a global study by Oxford Economics, technology to improve workforce productivity is a priority for SMEs, in an environment where, often now, fewer people are available to do the work required.
This list of the best apps for small businesses in 2022 covers productivity-boosting tools ranging from office software to cloud-powered business telephone systems, accounting software to workflow management solutions, and data storage to digital marketing tools.2. Don’t sacrifice marketing for sales
Whilst we’re on the subject of marketing, it’s often tempting for SMEs in difficult periods to cut marketing spend in favour of more direct, sales-focused communication. But this can be a huge mistake.
Real-world evidence has shown that sales conversion, even in a downturn, is directly proportionate to brand credibility – and brand credibility is established through marketing.
In a precarious environment, nothing spells buyability like an SME business that effectively communicates and reiterates all the reasons to have confidence in its offering.3. Connect, collaborate, grow business
The key to increasing your business’s reach is collaboration, and the key to that, in turn, is, increasingly, digital - and in particular social media.
As we touched on in another post, by connecting with businesses whose products and services complement your own, you can cross-promote each other’s offerings, which can garner a greater following and increased sales for both of you.
But SMEs should also consider producing content not only for their own websites or blogs, but also for guest slots on other (complementary) businesses’ sites, to reach a larger audience (and search engines!) with their knowledge of customers’ problems and the solutions they can provide to them.
Of course, all this presupposes you can find and connect with like-minded collaboration partners in the first place – a goal we at Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce can help you achieve.4. Resilience, resilience, resilience!
A recent article by the Institute of Directors (IoD) predicted that, in 2022, business resilience will become a critical priority for SMEs. But what does resilience look like, and how do SMEs achieve it?
The IoD advises that SMEs should build on the changes wrought by the pandemic, and further expand their digitalisation efforts, in the form of their e-commerce and online offerings.
Indeed, the implication is very much that if you don’t, you risk getting left behind. Some 77% of SMEs report either already having added or expecting to add an ecommerce offering in 2022, with 72% saying they had increased their online presence last year.
And some of them could be your competitors…5. Sell your sustainability
Lastly, it’s critical that SMEs don’t ignore the importance of adopting new methods to increase the sustainability of their business model and reduce their carbon footprint.
This is not just because sustainability credentials in themselves are, increasingly, what customers and investors are demanding.
It’s also because corporate legislation means larger businesses must be in a position to validate the sustainability credentials of the businesses in their supply chain – including SMEs - to ensure their own sustainability compliance.
In short, SMEs need to get to work measuring and reducing their carbon emissions, and free online tools like Compare Your Footprint are available through Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce to help.
For more information on how Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce can help SMEs rise to the challenges of today’s unpredictable business environment, visit www.chamber-business.com, or call us on (01582) 522448.