Expert business bloggers share 50 tips for SMEs – Part 3: business growth, leadership and networking

23 January 2017

We’re at the half-way point of our 50 tips for SMEs from leading business bloggers. This time we’re concentrating on business growth, leadership and networking, helping you take your business to the next level.

Business Development and Growth

  1. When it comes to raising funds, success is eased with good preparation and sound advice, i.e. knowing your numbers and getting help from an accountant or financial expert so you know how much to raise, and for what purpose.
  1. 2017 will be a period of change which represents great opportunity for entrepreneurs! Founders and business owners should feel confident and optimistic about growth — they are assessing the domestic market and reaching out to customers to ascertain demand, whilst also looking at new markets outside the UK.

– Emma Jones, founder of SME support network Enterprise Nation, co-founder of the Startup Britain campaign and UK government Small Business Crown Representative (read Emma’s tips for scaling up your business during a period of change)

  1. Improve the vital few: It’s not enough just to run your business as usual, you must improve it to retain customers and survive. Have a plan for the top ‘vital few’ things needing improvement this year, remembering that your resources and time are limited. Choose three things that are dissatisfying your customers and/or causing internal operational problems and go after them. Make sure that everyone knows these are the focus.

– Russell Watkins, management consultant specialising in lean business transformation and author of Operational issues hindering your business growth whitepaper (Sempai)

networking tips smes

  1. Be prepared to change your behaviour. For a small business to grow, its leadership must have the right attitude and mindset, and be prepared to change their behaviour from ‘business as usual’ to ‘let’s get growing.’ One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is to overcome their time-tested business strategy and develop a new way of working that will see their business grow. Do so by setting achievable goals (such as earning a certain amount in a specific period) so you can develop your business in a more manageable way.

– Gazprom Energy Blog (read more ways to successfully grow your business)

  1. Focus your business on being the best at one thing, then expand. Would you rather be great at one thing, or mediocre at a lot of things? Probably the former. When you’re first starting out, focus on making your business #1 in a specific area. Once you master that, you can move on to bigger and better things.

– Joe Griffin, CEO of content marketing software company ClearVoice and founder of multiple businesses (Source: Entrepreneur)

Leadership

  1. Learn how to delegate. Assigning tasks to employees might sound easy, but handing responsibility over to others can be a steep learning curve. Successful delegation is a matter of trust and instinct, but if you avoid it, you’ll fast become overwhelmed by your workload. Examine people’s strengths before assigning tasks which suit them best. Then monitor their progress to ensure the tasks are on track for completion. If you’ve selected the right person for the job, you’ll find you have more time to concentrate on other more pressing tasks.

– Gazprom Energy Blog (discover more leadership habits that can boost productivity)

  1. Many managers focus on excellent processes, instead of excellent results. They focus on detailed trails of paperwork, instead of working products and effective services. They are more interested in the reviews of their line managers rather than the reviews of their customers. The result is utter and complete disaster in the majority of the cases.

– Dr Constantina Katsari-Muston, founder of digital startup accelerator Startdoms and business technology consultant (Ekonomia Consultants)

  1. Allow employees to do their job with as much autonomy as possible. Enable them to be creative and try new ways of doing things, which could benefit your business. As the speed of change increases rapidly, companies need to trust and empower their staff to do the right thing – long ‘command chains’ are too slow for issues that need a quick resolution.

– Jan Sargent, HR leadership and teams specialist, and director of two consultancies (read more HR tips for growing businesses)

business development growth

  1. Get off your seat - successful lean businesses NEVER become so with a leader who refuses to venture out of their office onto the patch. Whatever your ‘patch’ is, a factory, service centre, warehouse or a hospital; walk it three times a week for 15 minutes and use these ‘gemba walks’ to variously (i.) confirm (ii.) coach (iii.) engage and (iv.) recognise your people in simple practical ways.

– Russell Watkins, management consultant specialising in lean business transformation and author of Operational issues hindering your business growth whitepaper (Sempai)

Networking and Business Support

  1. Make it a priority in 2017 to get out and network. There are a wide variety of networking groups out there. They vary in structure: some are purely networking, some provide a learning aspect. Make a list of local groups – check out your library resources and hunt out local co-working spaces. Ask online and check out local twitter ‘hours’ (e.g. #DorsetHour #HampshireHour). Small businesses using these will be able to point you in the right direction. Visit a few and see what suits you best – you can then make connections and will feel motivated, inspired and productive.
  1. Spend more time networking offline. There is absolutely nothing better than chatting to real life people. Online is a great ice breaker enabling you to develop relationships beforehand, but we have become so inept at personal interaction. You might not think you have ‘time’ to network, but the rewards outweigh time investment. Networking enables you to spend time with like-minded individuals and provides you with opportunities to discuss aspects of business you need help with – or that you can help others with.
  2. If you’re self-employed, it’s essential that you start developing relationships with people and not just online avatars. Focus on building a support network that will benefit both your business and your sanity. After all, working for yourself can be quite lonely at times.

– Joanne Dewberry, small business blogger and founder of party supplies business (Joanne Dewberry)

To discover more of the 50 business blogger tips for SMEs, click below:

Part 1: Sales and marketing & finance

Part 2: People management & recruitment

Part 4: Social media & technology

Alternatively, to find out about our business energy solutions for SMEs, visit the homepage or call us on 0845 230 0011.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.


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