Small and medium-sized businesses face unique challenges and evolve with their markets. These challenges can often take root in business operations, infrastructure, IT, talent retention, increased competition, lack of brand awareness and online presence for your SMB, etc. Mastering critical knowledge areas will help businesses adapt and thrive in any market environment.
Your business can survive almost anything with a strong business case, so stay focused here. How can you, and how will you continue to serve your market? With an everchanging market, evolving demographics, and advancements in technology, consider four critical dimensions in not just staying viable, but thriving; desirability, feasibility, viability, and responsibility. Great businesses always measure PMF, their technology, the business, and CSR.We Can Help
No matter how good your business case is, you'll need strong pistons to propel it forward. Consider these three dimensions; industries, sales, and service. Each of these pistons requires multiple fuel sources. Penetration into industries might require attending events, forming partnerships, etc. Sales teams need sales aids, CRMs, marketing support, etc. Service teams need production support, training, etc.We Can Help
As your business ages, so might your organizational structure. A well-thought-out structure of your organization creates the necessary foundational pillars from which to grow your business and contributes to the healthy mechanics of cross-functional teams. Whether a flat, hierarchal, or other variances of organizational structure, the appropriate form will depend on the stage of your business or its strategic growth plans. Regular tailoring of your organizational structure will insure you maintain a solid foundation for continued success.We Can Help
Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) is not just a quirky operational term for how you fulfill services. It has profound impacts on the business. Ensuring repeatable processes are well documented and resourced aids in providing quality of work, allows for effective management, uncovers areas to improve the services, eliminates confusion, keeps your production team happy, etc. And only through repetition can organizations expose patterns and unveil opportunities to realize improved efficiency in delivery.We Can Help
The appropriate systems integration throughout your business has far too many implications for delineating here. Nonetheless, consider what systems are needed to support healthy operations; company email, appointment scheduling, conference systems, project management platforms, team collaboration and communication systems, CRMs, SOP repositories, invoicing and accounting systems, etc. And implicit in "stack" is that these systems should align on top of one another, integrating as vertically as possible to improve communication between them where needed and improve efficiency.We Can Help
The best way to succeed in your business is to plan for that success. Organizations should develop a business plan and then plot the execution of that plan into numerous models. Typically organizations would have a one-year, three-year, and five-year plan. Each plan should contain conservative, moderate, and aggressive models. New businesses should understand their breakeven dates and funding requirements based on any model. All models should contain reports on cash flow, profit & loss, balance sheet, financial summary, overhead, inventory, etc. And all reports should update with each model accordingly, providing a perspective of future outlooks.We Can Help
A make-or-break competency for any organization, the right recruiting muscle is one of the greatest assets to wield, especially in a market of stiff competition for talent. We also know that the traditional scope of recruiting underserves the needs of organizations today. Recruiting has to proactively consider diversifying its workforce if it desires to find the best talent and teams to deliver. An organization should also consider what it takes to attract new talent and what it takes to keep talent (or hold onto talent as long as possible before graduating them on to their next venture).We Can Help
Market research can help you measure your product-market fit. A SWOT analysis helps organizations target industries that align with their core proficiencies and their ability to service the market. The result should place your business somewhere along the spectrum of a broad and shallow generalist or narrow and deep specialist within the industries you serve. Once you demonstrated an ability to serve a market profitably, consider what it takes to enter additional verticles and build new strengths accordingly while limiting risks.We Can Help
Product Management is a competency that combines knowledge and proven practices that nurture products once they are brought to life, strengthening and building them up as they age. Effective stewardship of your product offering means regularly engaging all stakeholders, gathering insights, soliciting feedback, and synthesizing all inputs into meaningful product enhancement roadmaps. Product Management's primary focus is to increase the product's value by learning from mistakes, identifying conformance needs, innovating, and optimizing the lifecycle of sales, to service, to close.We Can Help
An apparent truth, you can't serve (or enter) a market without a product. Product Development for SMBs is a natural component of serving industries. When innovation satisfies feasibility, desirability, viability, and responsibility, you'll then have to develop the service end-to-end, including how it is sold, the process for producing and delivering the product, retail price design, margin modeling, etc. Additionally, great products are never introduced to markets and abandoned. Instead, they are nurtured, iterated, and often enough, reimagined. Product development can be as simple as improving an existing process, building new features, launching new product versions, or developing entirely new products from the ground up.Product Development for SMBs
Developing pricing is one of the most critical proficiencies you'll need to get right as an organization. It's easy to eat into project margins - This is particularly true for service-based businesses; there is no project management controlling the project and managing stakeholders; review and approval phases seem never-ending; projects don't close with clean breaks; customers keep demanding more (scope creep). Project management can address much of this, but it has little use if the prices are not correct in the first place. Consider that proving the service is only a fraction of the cumulative time it takes for an organization to complete all of its work. Often, there is much more time spent outside of day-to-day tasks, onboard customers, gathering and curating assets from external stakeholders, communicating regularly with the client, etc. Ensure clients pay for all phases and process groups that deliver completed work or products.We Can Help
Organizations should consider their one-time products and service sales that generate cash flow in addition to recurring services that could stabilize the business. Should you restructure existing SKUs into subscription-based models? Should you build catalogs of add-on products to existing products to further extend their value? What white-label SaaS products might be right up your team's lane to service and support? The products you develop should be road mapped into your organization's sales goals and P&L as a deliberate and prudent business objective.We Can Help
Your brand is how the market identifies you. It's not just your logo. It's about understanding your purpose, who you are, what you do, how you do it, and who you serve along the way. Consider how your business engages your community and the culture it creates for its employees. And since we can't escape talking about logos, understandably, be inspired by successful brands that resonate with you. Often overlooked in logo design, be sure to introduce a versatile logo that distributes well to all canvases despite where it finds itself (on letterhead, business cards, uniforms, websites, billboards, bumper stickers, etc.).We Can Help
An exceptional online presence can fuel the success of small and medium-sized businesses. Ensuring that your audience can find you is a great way to establish brand awareness for SMBs. This also means ensuring major search engines can find you and favor your content. With a polished website, you can begin demonstrating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) with search engines and start outranking your competitors. And with well over 50% of all online traffic now coming from mobile devices, prioritizing mobile design is way more than having a responsive or mobile-friendly website; it means having finely-tuned and uniquely tailored mobile experiences for every device. And while we would never discourage your cousin or niece/nephew from getting a side web project, know that your website is not the place to cut a corner. Ensure that your brand is represented professionally and credibly. You're going to be working extremely hard on your business - don't let your website ruin your credibility and work against you.
Organizations should consistently recruit even the talent they've already hired. Develop transparent and thoughtful career track programs that invest in their skills development and support their growth. Ensure you have a standardized and comfortable onboarding for every role and skill level. Uncover strengths and gaps in knowledge or skill and tailor training accordingly. Empower your team to learn and grow together. Continue to attract and invest in your talent by furthering education through courses, certification programs, and fostering mentorships. Consider developing incubators and internal startups that allow your most talented rockstars to flex their genius - Hence, reduce your talent feeling they have to leave your organization to grow or pursue ambitions where those ambitions might otherwise align with the organization. And when they have outgrown the organization, commission a grand ceremony of their graduation that demonstrates your gratitude for all they have done and do all that you can to help them succeed in their new ventures. Be the organization that is intentional about building careers.We Can Help