How to expand an SME without damaging profits

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By Alex Norman, Lewis & Tucker

One of the biggest challenges faced by SMEs is how to expand your business while simultaneously delivering profitable and sustainable growth in unpredictable economic times. To be cost-effective, SMEs have had to think outside the box. employee-centric workspaces in large part by startups and SMEs have been so effective that the methods are now put into practice by big businesses.

Three areas to focus on to increase the profitability of your SME are:

  1. Creative solutions to office space

Make sure your business grows at a cost-effective and sustainable rate by looking for alternative options for your office. As an SME, there is a balance to strike between the number of employees in the company and the office space. In a growing company the expansion of the business will be inevitable, which should be regarded as an investment.

The benefits to geographically expanding your business include:

✔ Simultaneously expanding the clientele through improving accessibility

✔ Attracting a diversity of talent to the company

✔ Creating a better infrastructure to support sustainable growth

While there are risks in expanding the company’s office space, sensible options for a company not looking to be tied into a long-term contract include flexible/ shared office space or a satellite office from just one desk in size. Growing companies benefit from using flexible office spaces to scale-up. There are versatile and shorter lease terms now available to meet the changing demands of the company.

Shared office space is no longer just for ‘ahead-of-the-curve’ startups – Barclays, IBM and Microsoft have all used co-working spaces to gain the benefits of a collaborative environment.

Sharing an office space with other companies with differing skill sets and expertise are much publicised to be beneficial with networking opportunities and chances to learn, collaborate and swap advice.

Attracting talent is one of the common issues that companies face when looking to drive growth and encourage innovative thinking. By expanding in to other geographical areas a company can widen the talent pool which, with the correct hiring process, can be the key to growing as a company.

A report from PwC asked 246 CEOs from around the world about the need for innovation in their company. 30% of CEOs cited lack of talent stopping their company from being more innovative. Bringing fresh minds into a company can inspire and motivate current employees as well as driving fresh ideas and collaboration with new markets.

  1. Collaborative tools

Growing SMEs can save on the cost of desks by offering a flexible working system. Traditionally popular with startups working from the kitchen table or from a coffee shop, now large corporations are following suit, knowing that they will save money and increase productivity.

Barclays offers a flexible working system which benefits staff as they can fit their job around family life and other commitments. This benefits Barclays as they have happy, motivated, more productive staff whilst the company saves money by rotating desks.

  1. Employee focussed schemes

The motivation and engagement of your staff is crucial not only for increased productivity and performance but also for innovation and creativity – both key factors for sustainable business growth.

You need to:

  • Understand what engages and motivates your employees
  • Make positive feedback integral to encourage staff motivation, engagement and performance
  • Identify existing training and development needs to unlock employee potential

One well-used method for increasing employee happiness is to offer employee perks that are wholly focused on what they want or need. Consider perks such as gym membership, duvet days and free fruit. The perks do not have to be costly, but they do have to be of high value to your staff. Also consider what will make your office setup a happier environment. It is clear that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to office setup. If you find out what your employees want, you will increase their motivation and productivity.

Every successful business needs to have a clear growth strategy, which will need to adapt to the dynamics of the market that you serve and the talent that you want to attract. Subsequently, the increased popularity, availability and proven virtues of flexible office solutions are leading to a integral structural shift in the way companies grow.