Sustaining a start-up is never easy. As Singapore experiences slower growth, SMEs are fraught with constant challenges of labour, productivity and rising costs on many fronts, all while trying to maintain their bottom line. In this article, we share tips for small and medium enterprises to grow and succeed for the long haul.
Focus on productivity
Keeping competitive is key to surviving in today’s tough business environment. With the rise of technological innovations, it has actually become easier for companies to look for lean and efficient ways to solve their manpower issues.
Sometimes it helps to first take a step back and to identify the improvements needed. Look out for processes in the company that can either be replaced or made more efficient with automated processes. The benefits of doing so are immense. Not only does it save costs, it frees up your employees to take on more value-added or challenging tasks.
Invest in training
When adopting new technologies or processes, it is absolutely crucial to ensure your employees undergo a smooth transition easing into it. Upskilling or reskilling may also be necessary. But don’t try and rush through the process of getting your employees familiarised in this time of change.
Mature workers, especially, will need more time and patience as they might be afraid of being made redundant if they can’t keep up.
For most SMEs, the main barriers to training are making time and freeing up people within a lean team to attend. A quick solution is to consider more agile learning resources and technology-based training programs, such as e-learning or scenario-based learning.
Build a positive culture
Remember, as cliché as it seems, that your employees are your greatest asset. As such, always make time for your employees and let them know they are valued.
You may find, at times, that gaining buy-in for new initiatives can be difficult. But it becomes easier once you’ve built a positive and open environment. To do this, leaders need to motivate workers with respect, words of encouragement and even, incentives.
Keep major company decisions transparent. It’s good to make sure that everyone has a say in them. Encourage them to voice their concerns as well. Once they are able to do this, it shows that there is a level of trust established, and they might be more receptive to new ideas.
Diagnosing gaps in your HR processes are also important in ensuring you continue to attract and retain the right talent, which in turn, motivates them to keep working hard.
Be adaptable and resilient
The workplace of the 21st century keeps changing. And you must too. Being adaptable means that you are prepared to face any business challenges that may come your way.
According to the SME Development Survey 2016, the biggest challenge SMEs had to cope with this year was a lack of access to financing. Keeping the business afloat may seem impossible at times, especially when threats and issues arise out of the blue. However, preparing contingency plans are the best way to handle them.
For instance, to protect against threats to your cash flow like sudden business interruptions, work injuries, or public liability, you should ensure that you get an office insurance plan that covers this.
Besides planning for the foreseeable future, it also helps to think about the long run. This includes business continuity management planning, and learning how to stay resilient in the face of crisis.
In conclusion, the SMEs of today need to redesign, retrain, reinvent and remain resilient in order to be successful.