Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seven tips for SMEs

WITH such high expectations for recovery, prospects look good for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Nevertheless, success is never guaranteed.
“Businesses need to learn from the lows of 2008 and 2009 and make changes to their future strategies and operations. They also need to do it before the recovery happens, rather than wait,” says Regus Group global chief executive officer Mark Dixon.
Regus Group is the provider of pioneering workplace solutions, with products and services ranging from fully equipped offices to professional meeting rooms, business lounges and the largest network of video conferencing studios.
The company operates a global network of more than 1,000 business centres in 450 cities and 78 countries.
Dixon believes that SMEs’ have strong prospects ahead if they take steps now to become smarter, greener and more successful. He offers seven tips to get SMEs going.
Tip 1: Think small
Businesses of all sizes could learn from the example of small businesses. According to the Regus Business Tracker Study, companies with fewer than 50 employees are more bullish about 2010 than their larger counterparts, suggesting the economic recovery will be led by them.
There are evidences that smaller companies are more adept at marketing and customer retention, while large firms struggle with internal concerns like cost management and staffing.
Tip 2: Take a trip
Companies should not let international boundaries stand in their way when it comes to focusing externally.
China, India and other emerging economies have huge potential for future growth.
With communication technologies becoming ever more advanced and ever cheaper, doing business abroad can fuel future growth prospects.
Research into new markets is key, as is finding the right international partners. Otherwise, costs can begin to spiral out of control.
Tip 3: Work smarter
Businesses all over the world are looking at the cost of headcount but many neglect to look at other fixed costs.
“For the majority of businesses, property is the second biggest fixed overhead.
Even so, 95% of businesses fail to identify it as an area where they could make major savings.
“Instead of locking themselves into costly, fixed-term property arrangements, they should look at more flexible arrangements, such as short- or medium-term leases, or virtual working,” he says.
He says flexible working can reduce a company’s property costs by up to 60% whilst creating a more motivated workforce.
Tip 4: Go green
Leverage on more energy efficient technologies.
Cost-saving, green technologies like energy monitors, and zonal air-conditioning and lighting can significantly cut utility bills.
He says organisations like the Malaysian Department of Environment can give advice on energy-efficient technologies and grants.
In addition virtual and flexible working can reduce a company’s travel costs, as well as cutting employees’ carbon footprints, according to him.
Tip 5: Look around
“Recovery or no recovery, some sectors have been thriving even during the recession. Telecoms, for example, is strong globally, with many developing countries installing new mobile technology.” he says, adding that sustainable technology is also doing well.
He says businesses of all sizes should look for ways to benefit from the opportunities in thriving sectors, and never get so trapped by day-to-day management that they fail to spot new openings.
Tip 6: Outsource
Companies should focus on revenue- generating activities and outsource the rest.
“Property, administration and support services can all be handled by other people, allowing businesses to concentrate on the activities they do best,” he says.
Tip 7: Network
This is vital for meeting new customers and contacts, and gathering information and advice.
“It’s one of the easiest ways to generate new business,” he says.
Source: The Star

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