TOP 10 BUSINESS TIPS FOR SMEs IN MALAYSIA
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
When you start a SME business it is vital that you research the market to ensure that there is a need and/or demand for your product in Malaysia or aboard. Researching your market regularly is paramount for success in anything and in business this couldn’t be more true.
SME Business owners should also concentrate their energy on identifying their competitors and understanding their business model and pricing structure to ensure that they can shape the business to slot into the marketplace.
After launching, it is rare for a business to re-look at their business plan and evaluate the market, however, the benefit of doing exactly that can be extremely powerful for a business.
Competitors can change over time and it’s also worth remembering that so too can your customers’ needs. The Malaysian market and customers will develop and change over time and so should your business. It is only by keeping abreast of our chosen market, we can move our businesses forward.
Share your ideas and plans
Most of us are frightened of sharing too much business related information. If we have a good idea we tend to keep it ‘close to our chest’ in fear, I guess, of the “extremely common” ‘business idea thieves’!
We are clearly not giving ourselves enough credit, even if somebody did choose to take our ideas, they are not us so would never have the creativity to move it forward. Like everything in life, we should consider the risk versus reward balance.
The reward we could receive from sharing our ideas generally far outweigh the risk. The risk is tiny compared to the reward be immense.
Feedback is vital in business. From our branding through to our website, from our website through to our product or services, from our product through to our service and from our service through to our operations. Gaining feedback early can save us hours of time and money in correcting an issue later. We can learn from the mistakes of others and ensure that our business succeeds when so many others fail.
Forecast and Budget
It sounds obvious, but a written financial plan year on year will help you set goals and measure progress of SME Business. Ensure that you break down your annual budget into quarters and monitor your progress at least once every 3 months to detect any problems. This gives you the opportunity to make changes and amendments as required.
Ensure that the operations of your business are smooth. The difference between being efficient and fairly efficient can be the difference between being highly profitable and going out of business. Ensure that your processes are not over complicated, the KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) rule is never more important than now.
The simpler the process, the more repeatable it becomes and therefore the more can be achieved in a day. Ensure that all staff can be measured on performance to maximise their time and efficiency. Consider automating as much of your operations as possible – human time is much more expensive in the longer term than technology.
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Don’t be afraid to ask
You won’t receive a medal for doing everything yourself, successful entrepreneurs are never afraid to rely on outside assistance. If you don’t know, then ask somebody that does, don’t waste your time attempting to muddle through.
Ask an expert, you may need a consultant to help you with growth plans, this is normal. Speak to other entrepreneurs that have been in your position before and learn from their learnings.
Change your own role, hires ahead of what you need by looking for part-time or consultancy based roles and ensure that you delegate the day-to-day operations to others so that you can concentrate on being the leader and have time to think strategically and plan.
Be passionate and build the Buzz
Be creative, create a big event, an email campaign, a special promotion or anything that it out of the ordinary that could start people talking. Passion is infectious and it has to start with you.
Promote your business
It’s very simple; a customer can only buy from you if they know you exist. Promoting your business is simply a way to educate the market about your product or service. Even industry leaders appreciate the importance of keeping at the forefront a customer’s mind.
Many small businesses believe that if they have enough work, then they don’t need to advertise however, the most successful businesses never become complacent. They continue to advertise their products and their brand to ensure that they continue to remain industry leaders.
We must consider the ‘what if ’ scenerio as well as going back to our 3P’s! You may be fully booked this month, but how will you ensure that you remain that way?
It is also worth remembering to maximise your existing and past customer base; referrals always begin with providing a prompt, reliable and quality service.
Take written testimonials from your customers and use these in promotional material, don’t be shy about celebrating your successes. Advise your customer base of any new offers and don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals. Sometimes it’s true that if you don’t ask, you won’t get!
We start to network from a very early age, even at school, we are building networks of friends. Most business owners admit that they are first ever customer was a friend, family member or old contact. We are more likely to recommend a person that we know and trust.
So it’s simple mathematics, the more people we know, the more customers we will gain.
Never underestimate the power of contacts. There are many ways of meeting business contacts now; whether it be an online business network or face to face networking event, these tools are in place to make our lives easier and save us time and money.
It is, however, vital that we handle these tools cleverly and carefully as handled incorrectly, we will be unable to maximise the benefits.
Think long term and not short term. If you go in with a hard sell, you will not be building a relationship and trust and therefore minimising your impact. Meet people, build relationships and consider how you could help them rather than how you can sell to them.
Treat them correctly and they will come back to you when they need your product or service. Do something for them and they will want to return the favour. How many people do you think each business person knows? How many of those do you think may need your product/service in the future?
Always consider the ‘what if ’s’! Ensure that you plan and prepare for any given situation so that you can remain focused on the future without being faced with a minor problem. It is true that disaster can strike – although rarely but if it does, it will be your preparation that will save your business.
Safely store and backup (off site or in a fire safe locked box) important documents such as any legal agreements, insurance documents and a copy of the businesses key contacts and processes so that in a crisis your employees can answer the question. Now what? Ensure that you have a reserve line of credit for any unplanned emergency expenses that you may incur.
Roll with the punches
Comparing business to boxing may seem an odd choice, however, it is inevitable that in a boxing match, you will at some point receive punches and therefore you learn to absorb the force of a blow. You may get knocked down, but you only lose if you don’t get back up.
Business is no different, it is inevitable that you will experience some difficulties at some time. You will experience change and you may well be at some point be ‘knocked off your feet’. First, you accept what has been dealt, learn to move with the market, adapt and change and if you’re knocked down remember that you just need to find your feet.