Make good intentions a reality to deliver business success

When it comes to planning for growth, Australia’s SMEs have good intentions but they often stumble with effective implementation. The 2015 KPMG Private Enterprise Growth Intentions Snapshot, just released, found that faced with the day-to-day demands of operations many businesses were simply too time poor to get their plans fully executed.

It’s not for want of trying. A majority of the SMEs surveyed certainly showed some good approaches to planning including performing a SWOT analysis (72 percent), defining customer segments (72 percent) and defining growth strategies (70 percent).

Yet they also suffered from the age-old problem of being too busy working in the business to work on the business. Indeed, 76 percent said they were too taken up with operational aspects and were very internally focused. A further 17 percent said they didn’t have time to track revenue growth.

Paradoxically, 90 percent were planning for growth.

It’s not easy to overcome the issue of not having enough time. In fact most business people are time poor but some operate more effectively than others.

The successful businesses are those that consciously block out time – a set amount at a regular interval – and are disciplined about it. They book out an hour a week, or several hours a fortnight, to address business plan objectives and check they are on track. They focus on where planning implementation might have slipped and make a correction to get back on course. And they have a well-developed value proposition in easy reach or even on display in the office.

This proposition is a vital component of delivering SME growth and success. Without a clearly articulated Unique Selling Proposition (USP) it is difficult to formulate a coherent marketing strategy and develop campaigns to support growth. Understanding technology and remaining current are also vital planning steps as are effective financial management and cash flow tracking.

It is also notable that the Growth Intentions Snapshot highlights that 24 percent – or a quarter of surveyed SMEs – admitted to concentrating effort on the wrong customers and market segments. Knowing who you are up against and what the shape of your market is are vital aspects of business planning especially in a world of disruptive technology.

Businesses must also have the right skills – either in-house or drawn on from external consultants. A key Survey finding was that 35 percent of business owners want to grow their business but simply lack the skills to develop and implement a growth plan. One solution is to buy in an expert for a few hours at a time to sort out the right direction and ensure focus.

Some of the most successful people we work with have written down their top ten growth objectives and displayed these in their work places. It’s a reminder of what they need to look at and deliver and it helps keep everyone on track for growth through the right planning and actions.

Simple steps like these can be relevant and helpful to all levels of business and also serve as a reality check. They are a reminder that good intentions must be made real through following the growth plan.

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