Is Today's SME an Endangered Species?

Today’s SME is, in many ways a different animal to that of seven or eight years ago. Even in its natural habitat, today’s SME tends to be more cautious than the pre-recession and pre-2008 specimen. The recession really knocked the stuffing out of some businesses and some didn’t make it through the cold winters. At times, the dwindling availability of fresh meat (new business) has meant that his animal had to learn to live off meagre rations. Of course, with its habitat about to experience another change with the uncertainties of Brexit on the horizon, challenges anew face our beleaguered SME business owner.

But does it have to be that way?

We’re not in the polar Arctic with shrinking ice caps that threaten our very existence. Or are we? Despite the ravages of recession and the worry about our slow departure from the EU, our business world is very different to lions and tigers on the sun parched planes of Africa or seal hunting polar bears hunting in the eroding arctic. There is still plenty of meat for today’s SME but, like many species, they need to adapt, fight for it and find clever ways to stalk and catch their prey.

In days gone by, business was plentiful. There were plenty of fish in the proverbial sea. Big clients were willing to spend. Their greater caution, in recent years up until we emerged from the stupor of recession, bred a risk averse attitude amongst the smaller companies that served them. For several years, it was a case of head down and hope that the food will come. Many didn’t survive through inactivity. Those that did survive weren’t the ones that buried their heads in the sand or starved themselves through relative inertia. To thrive, they needed to take a few risks. And, with new uncertainties upon us, SME’s need to take learning from recent times and go again. They need to prepare themselves for possible leaner times once again.

Of course, it’s by no means certain that we’ll face a new famine in terms of business. But preparation and adaptation are crucial traits that small businesses need to progress rather than fall back. In truth, it’s pretty straightforward. Owners and managers need to identify their prey and work out the best way to entice it. They also need to work out how to ward off other predators after the same prey who also may be trying to gobble them up in the process. It’s survival of the fittest.

So, what do you need to do? To some extent, it means clearer focus on risk and reward. No business can survive without a pipeline of new business. But what will it take to keep the pot bubbling and lead flowing? Let’s look at a simple scenario. For example, if a typical new client win / value of sale for your business is £10,000 what investment will your business allocate up front to deliver that outcome? It’s about ROI. Of course, there’s no point going after prey that is inedible. No point trying to eat an elephant if you’re a mouse in your sector. Go after business that is accessible based on your credibility, location, resources and experience.

Consider the natural habitat of your prey. Where do they graze? In other words, where do they go for information, education, communication and even for entertainment? If you know this, make sure you’re visible there and engage with them in their natural environment. Whether that means through inbound marketing like social media and content development or outbound marketing like direct mail or telemarketing, work out where is your best chance of success. What delivers the best probability of capturing your prey and achieving your goal? And at what cost?

We’re not saying that this is easy or without risks. You could choose the wrong route, never reach your prey and exhaust your resources. That’s where your research comes in. You have to understand your prey, what they’re looking for and where they congregate.

What’s the alternative? Starve to death due to lack of action, gradually submitting to a slow and painful death through lack of nourishment? That’s not much of life anyhow. You can choose your fate. We all have to get out there and compete. Business managers need to get out into the wild and fight for their prey. If you stack up against your competitors, you’ll win a share of the prize, maybe the lion’s share. That’s what new business development is all about. If you want to survive in this era of greater relative scarcity and significant uncertainty, you have to start now and you have to get your business in good shape to compete. You have to market your business. You may have to take risks while you can. Great prizes are rarely won without risk. If you don’t, what’s the betting that an aggressive foe will get ahead of you in the race and snare the prey before you have the chance to act.

GSA helps businesses become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns and also, with our experience, guide SME’s through the maze of marketing choices. We help them make the best choice and spend their budget wisely. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.

2 responses on “Is Today’s SME an Endangered Species?

  1. Interesting article and all makes perfect sense. From my humble experience, I see that there are more predators ( SME’s ) around these days so the food is being stretched. A downed Elephant now has to feed many more than just a large corporate apex predator than before. The recession forced may people out of jobs and into freelance and setting up their own company. The internet is the great leveler and there is now a tremendous amount of startups and micro sme’s that are flourishing. Yes, only the fittest out of those will survive but I believe that the business marketplace is looking strong for the future.

    The recession certainly cleared away a lot of the dead wood and allowed new dynamic companies, digitally friendly to pave the way in the coming years. In your sector, you will notice a huge amount of freelance telemarketers competing on the top of google for their local areas.

    I don’t think that SME’s are more cautious these days, I just think there are a large amount of young micro SME’s taking the digital rains who have no fear or reputation or standing so I think the summary stands. Evolve, get involved or waste away as if you don’t, there is a kid in front of his PC now who is 13 and a coding and business wizard. He is hungry.

    • Jonathan Silverman says:

      Thanks John. Interesting points. I definitely agree that there are plenty of ‘Young Bucks’ out there that are web and digital savvy and the big challenge for many SME’s is having the skills and the appetite to compete. Business is getting faster and no-one can ignore the massive changes in how we communicate and do business. Thanks again for your input! We’d also love a guest article on how to buy data if you’d like to contribute!

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