Although the number of SME businesses continues to grow in the UK, what is needed to become a small business success story?
With almost 30 years of working in a variety of businesses, industries and businesses, SME business Director, David Teasdale, shares the following top ten tips, based on his own successes and failings in the world of small business.
- Continually strive for a product that people want – Without sales the company has no income and so most of the company’s attention has to be directed to this end.
- Treat your customers well – in all transactions, but also recognise not all customers are equal and a nuanced approach to customer management will ensure that you get the best returns.
- Use hard data rather than hunches – This doesn’t mean that you should get analysis paralysis but it does mean act on research, feedback, facts etc not gut feelings or hunches.
- Be action orientated – Just like the Harvard studies suggest, leaders who are action orientated are more successful.
- Get the right team – People are intrinsic to a company’s success. Get the right people who are committed, capable and willing to learn. Equally people who do not make the grade can be disastrous for the business and so must be dealt with.
- Treat your people well – work is not just a transactional process – you don’t just turn up and the company pays you. There is a psychological contract too which means that people who feel that they are treated fairly and respect will return in kind, bringing huge value to the business.
- Maintain loose, tight control – this dichotomous approach is actually straight forward. Allow your capable people to manage and not only will this take the load off you but also give them greater work satisfaction and allow them to grow. Tight control however must be maintained of certain things such as key customer management and financial matters.
- Manage your cash tightly – Business that are making profit can still run out of cash. Cash low forecasts and creditor and debtor management can be key to avoiding insolvency.
- Control your unnecessary costs – If a cost cannot be directly linked to the improvement of the top line or the bottom line it should always be questioned.
- Keep a firm grip generally on financial matters – Pricing, margin and cost management decisions should be tightly controlled either by clear business rules, systemisation or personally at a senior level.
Finally, ‘work on the business as well as in the business’ and there is a clear distinction between the two. Senior management who get too involved working in the business can miss external opportunities or threats which may have significant impact on the business.
David Teasdale is the Director of Dishwashers Direct, The UK’s largest range of commercial dishwashers, and Laundry Equipment Direct, commercial laundry equipment specialists of more than 20 years. He holds an MBA from Nottingham University, with almost 30 years of experience in a variety of business disciplines.