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How can SMEs Ensure They Stay Afloat?; Tips and tricks from Alison Edgar MBE

Our first Disruptive Minds webinar saw a group of SME founders discuss the topic of the effects that Covid-19 had on their business, and how they fought back to stay afloat. 

Watch the full webinar here to learn more about how your SME can stay afloat in 2022 here. 

Taskforce member, motivational speaker, author, and known by many as ‘The Entrepreneurial Godmother’, Alison Edgar MBE, gives us some of her top tips and tricks on how to ensure your SME can stay afloat, in this latest blog post.

COVID-19 was a make or break for SMEs across the world, and unfortunately, so many of them hit that iceberg and sank. What we learned from this, however, is new tactics that help to ensure that small/medium enterprises stay afloat whatever the weather. Running an enterprise is challenging, we didn’t need a two-year global pandemic to figure this out. What we did learn through Covid though, are the ins and outs of the aspects that ensure success for SMEs. 

The first tip to ensuring your SME stays afloat is to develop your existing customers! As small business owners, we are always looking to grow – grow our products, grow our mailing lists and grow our client base – but what we don’t realise is the negative effect that comes into play when we are overlooking our current customers. Gaining new customers can be exciting, but something to always bear in mind is that 20% of your customers will give you 80% of your sales. It is much more worthwhile to look after your current customers than spending a bunch of time and money looking for more, as efforts to win a new client will be six to seven times as much as the efforts to get an existing client to make a repeat purchase. Now I am in no way saying cut the marketing and stop looking for new customers, you just need to find that balance between customer acquisition and customer retention. 

Secondly, never compete on price! Large corporations tend to offer cheaper prices, prices so cheap that they wouldn’t generate enough revenue to even sustain a SME, let alone make a profitable business. This is where a lot of SME owners go wrong, they compare and they doubt. Comparing an SME to a large organisation is like comparing an apple to an apple to an orange,  it just doesn’t work. There are many extra costs and processes that need to be considered so always remember what it is that your customers are paying for, whether it’s quality, ethics or just the price of the product!

The third tip to ensuring your SME stays afloat is to re-evaluate your strategy. With the economic circumstances changing almost daily, it’s important to stop every so often and re-evaluate your business strategy. Ask yourself ‘Is my business model suitable and sustainable for the environment we now find ourselves in?”. Be honest with your answer, despite so many misconceptions there is absolutely no shame in making mistakes – it’s how we grow. When you are re-evaluating your strategy it’s important to bear these three words in mind; strategy, people, and execution. These categories, when mastered, will help ensure success for your SME.

The fourth and final tip to ensuring that your SME stays afloat is to invest in technology and tools. A recent Small Business Insights report, showed the impact of technology spending on small business outcomes, with businesses that adopt and invest in technology being 68% more likely to see growth than those that don’t. Crazy right? Investing in tools and technologies can save you time, effort and hard-earned money. There are tools for absolutely everything out there, whether you need a hand with collaboration, productivity, marketing, accounting or operations management (the list goes on) there is sure to be a tool out there, perfect for your enterprise. Here are some of my favourites…

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Let’s face it, running an SME isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. It’s risky business. There is nothing that can *guarantee* that you will stay afloat no matter what the circumstances are, but with these tips and tricks, you can certainly be sure that you are doing more than those around you. 

Tune into our next Disruptive Minds webinar on Thursday 7th July, where a group of founders and experts will be discussing the overrepresentation of SMEs in London, and what more can be done to encourage the opening of SMEs in other regions: Secure your free space here.