COVID-19 has created incredible challenges for business – but perhaps none more than SMEs. Smaller companies have been naturally hit hard by the pandemic, as lockdown forced many companies to close or minimise their operations. So, for SMEs, growing in 2020 should be out of the question, right?
Well, it doesn’t have to be. Growth for SMEs in 2020 means understanding that the market has changed and re-thinking what you do and how you do it. Here we take a look at some strategies that SMEs are going to need if they want to grow in 2020.
Embrace remote working
Undoubtedly one of the most important strategies that have become important for SMEs is that of remote working. Many companies were forced to allow a level of remote working out of necessity. But as time moves on, it will be important for businesses to accept as a part of normal working conditions.
It is important for people at all levels of the business to accept that remote working could become an aspect of normality – even if it is not possible for everyone. This can be a big challenge, says Tim Garcia of Hassans International Law Firm, especially when individuals can hold prejudices and deeply ingrained ideas about proper working practice.
For instance, a person who is not always in an office or who takes all of their prescribed ‘leave’ may be automatically identified as lacking sufficient commitment,” says Garcia “someone who has little social or human interaction with colleagues may be considered aloof and not a team player.
The impact and acceptability of such behaviours may turn on nuance, including the culture and requirements of the working environment in question, and the trust in and values of its constituent individuals”.
Cut the right costs
Of course, many businesses are facing a year where they have seen revenues shrink and a huge range of challenges facing them. It is natural, then, to look for ways to minimise your expenses and cut costs. But cutting costs in the wrong places can make it much harder for your business to recover.
Interestingly, around 69% of companies say that they will spend less on marketing in 2020 – but the problem here is that lower spend on marketing means fewer leads in the future. It is smarter to think about your overall strategy – if your business has struggled you may find it better to reduce to spend in areas such as your premises, as this still allows you to operate without damaging sales.
Invest in your staff
It is also important that you continue to invest in your staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means more than just continuing to pay their wages – you need to be thinking long-term. Staff training is an important aspect of this as providing your team with new skills and knowledge can benefit the business.
Be willing to look beyond the day-to-day necessities of the company to ensure that you are thinking of the future. Just doing the standard activities of the company won’t make it grow – but developing skills can.
Rethink your place in the market
There can no doubt that 2020 has changed just about every market in the world. Things that businesses could happily assume just months ago are now irrelevant. This means that if your SME wants to grow this year, you’ll need to throw out virtually everything you think you know about your market and focus on re-thinking your new place in the market.
There are opportunities post-COVID-19 but to take advantage of them, businesses can’t rely on their past assumptions.
Go with the change
It is important to remember that there are aspects of this change that you as a business can nothing about – it is time, instead, to embrace the change. Getting hung up on what should or could have happened will do no good for the company; you only need to focus on the present and what you do to improve your current situation.
Work on your website
More people have been buying online due to the pandemic – a recent study revealed that sales were up 76% in June. And this is certainly something that your SME should look to take advantage of by improving your website.
This can include everything from revamping the appearance of the site to working on marketing issues such as SEO and PPC.
Business growth in 2020 might not be easy – but it is important for SMEs to focus on what they can do, rather than worrying about the things they can’t control. Growth strategies need to be smart and they need to re-think the marketplace to succeed.