Smart ways for SMEs to keep up the momentum

As we move into the second half of what has been a challenging year, business owners are looking for new and innovative ways of keeping things moving. If you’re getting less custom than usual, you might be struggling to maintain your motivation, but you should look upon this as an opportunity, writes Michael Smith.

Why not use it to make changes that you never seem to have time for otherwise? It’s an opportunity to embrace the new and make all the necessary adjustments before you go back to working at full speed.

Go automatic

Automating your software systems is an exciting step that can revolutionise the way you do business. It drastically reduces the amount of time required for manual data entry, and by decreasing the human factor, it cuts the error rate in most companies.

It also makes it much easier to integrate your systems, even when you’re using software from different companies. You can also build more effective security software to protect your money and sensitive data.

Finding the right automation system for a business takes time and introducing it can be quite an effort, because you’ll have to get everyone who will be interacting with it up to speed. Still, once it’s in place, it will enable you to run much more efficiently.

Get employees more involved

Did you know that businesses are more successful when they pay attention to what their employees have to say about working practices? There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly, because they’re directly engaged in all the daily processes that keep the business going, employees have valuable insights which may not be available to senior management. Secondly, feeling that management cares about their opinions increases employee loyalty and their willingness to work hard.

This is the perfect time to introduce new practices in your workplace – everything from an anonymous suggestions box to weekly meetings where employees are encouraged to share their views. It’s also an excellent time to change your habits and to get better at listening and asking questions.

Get smart about money

When business is slow and markets are volatile, you need to be more careful about how you handle your finances. Simple things like hedging your international deals using forex make it a lot easier to plan and maintain stability.

Now is a good time to read reviews and to find the right forex broker. If you’re lucky enough to have some cash reserves that you don’t need to keep ready for emergencies, this is also an opportune time to think about how you can invest them.

In some areas of the market, uncertainty is now so high that the smart thing may be to withdraw your investments, even if you have to do so at a loss. Still, at the same time, volatility always creates opportunities for growing your money substantially if you’re smart about where you place it.

Boost your skills

Are there areas where you could do better if your skills were sharper? When you first start a business, you usually find yourself having to do a bit of everything. It can take a while for the precise parameters of your role to be clarified. Then, all too often, you’re too busy to undertake training and just have to get by as best you can.

At present, when lots of educational and training resources are being made available for free or at discount prices, and when the increased availability of online options means you don’t have to worry about finding time to travel, you can improve your skills with relative ease. Making sure you fully understand all the areas you’re responsible for will allow you to refine and improve the way your business runs.

Stay flexible

In uncertain times you need to keep a measure of flexibility within your business regardless of what else you’re doing. It’s a good idea to assess how this works and work out where you can build in contingencies, e.g. by freeing up capital to plug a financial gap or establishing ways of renting storage when it’s needed so that you don’t have to pay overheads on extensive premises.

You may want to consider outsourcing rather than doing everything in-house or making the necessary adjustments to let employees work some of the time remotely. Having all these things figured out ahead of time means that in the event of a crisis you can act quickly and maintain your edge.

There’s no time like the present for revitalising your business, and taking these steps can keep you moving forward even in quieter times.