2012 has been a tough year for some SMEs, while others seem to go from strength to strength. Four Kiwi business gurus suggest some New Year's resolutions to spark growth in 2013.
Phil O'Reilly, ceo, Business NZ
- Get paid. Most SMEs are critically dependent on good cashflow, so get control of your debtors, particularly you 90-days-plus debts.
- Get a strategy. Many SMEs don't have one; they just exist, but the difference between those that survive and those that don't is often having a plan.
- Get advice. Traditional advice for small businesses comes from your mate and your accountant. but consider an informal board of advisers. Implementing a more disciplined approach to taking advice is a good idea.
- Innovate. Broadly speaking we are, as a country, not doing enough research and development. Traditionally SMEs haven't been leaders in innovation but that is changing. And it doesn't mean science. It means looking at new ways of reaching markets that can give you the competitive advantage.
- Address the internet. If you don't have an online strategy you need one. Very little happens around making any purchase decision that doesn't involve the internet these days. Not just a website but a plan for using Twitter and Facebook as well.
Nick Churchouse, Venture manager, Creative HQ, Wellington-based business incubator
- Focus on value. The past year has seen a number of awesome start-up fairy tales emerge out of start-up hubs worldwide. But the legendary tales of success tend to focus on the zeros not the metrics. Every start-up success comes from a simple value proposition, sold well to the right people. It doesn't matter what your business, you must build the value, communicate the value and deliver the value.
- Make the money come to you. 2012 saw a deepening dearth of traditional start-up funding. Phrases such as "traction is the new IP" represent a shift from early start-up seed funding to not-so-early growth funding. Turn market research into customer feedback, turn clever tech into a business model with history. Cashflow forecasts should be based on something that actually resembles cashflow. Like grumpy rhinos, investors are attracted to movement.
- Commit yourself. Part-time lovers get sidelined. Look at what you want this year and be straight up about how you can make it happen and what you have to give to it. If 2012 was a tough year, 2013 will be harder. Achieve, build and inspire.
Andrew Hawke, Business advisory partner, KPMG Christchurch
- Manage cashflow. As demand builds stock and supplies will be needed to fill orders, placing demands on cashflow. Working capital management will become critical. A rolling cashflow forecast is useful to ensure you see warning signs early.
- Focus on the bottom line. And maintain margins to ensure top line sales growth is profitable.
- Recruit well. The war on talent will become more intense. Make sure the right frameworks are in place to recruit and retain key staff.
- Keep planning. Whilst profitability levels will increase, continue to plan strategically in terms of succession plans and exit.
Kevin Andreassend, President of Auckland ICT and managing director Ice AV
- Think global. B2B and B2C around the globe are now comfortable purchasing from businesses and sellers whom they will never meet. Make them comfortable dealing with you.
- Be a specialist. Whether it's a service, product, or technology. If you are credible and easy to find on the internet, clients will contact you.
- Be an authentic presence online. What happens online dictates what happens in the real world. It used to be vice versa. Make yourself known for your insight, knowledge and authority.
- Be on film. Online videos are now a must for every company.
- Be savvy. There are rogues, fake profiles and companies. Learn how to research them and make absolutely sure you cannot be mistaken as a scammer, spammer or rogue.
Do you feel better off than at this time last year?