The current business environment, as canny SME founders would know, is increasingly uncertain and volatile. Complex, twenty-four/seven, a digital hive of data, numbers, and information, it’s a case of whatever the client wants (and they may be internal or external), whether it is a product or a concept, it can be delivered at the snap of a virtual finger. Innovation and invention across all industries and sectors is continuous, creative and phenomenally fast.
There are fantastic opportunities for those SMEs who have recognised the inherent value in collaborative thinking at a commercial level – what is being called the ‘We space’ – to get the jump on the bottom line. Working together to share ideas, concepts, skills, intellectual property, even collaborating cross-corporations is an invaluable chance for expansion and revenue increase.
Thinking fast, being proactive, challenge and disrupting the norm, and above all connecting with, contributing to and influencing others, will all lead to bigger business capabilities.
The question is how?
- Question your status quo: what is the structure of your team? Are you taking on too many ‘big’ roles yourself? Split your own role so that others are able to show their strengths. This will mean faster expansion as you have a ‘divide and conquer’ ability.
- Think fast: do you know who your competitors are? Do you know who their teams are? Their 2ICs? Their network affiliations? Are you sitting in the right place within your market share?
- Be innovative: What was your last great idea? When was the last time you shared an idea with your team? When was the last time you ASKED for an idea from your team?
- Develop new perspectives: have you actually ever asked your team WHY they are with you? What their passions are? What they want to achieve? If the people working with or for you aren’t interested in what you do, then as an SME, you are never going to expand successfully. Ask yourself this though; is it because they truly aren’t interested… or because you haven’t given them a reason to be interested?
- Disrupt the norm: to look at expansion, go to other SMEs with complementary products or concepts. Is there a possibility of an exchange of value? Could you enter into a collaborative arrangement, where you work together and ‘swap’ skills to produce a new product, or app, or idea? It doesn’t have to be a kill zone. A brand with honesty and authenticity will attract like-minded brands – and like-minded customers.
- Connect, contribute, and influence: SMEs are the backbone of industry. Yes, they are often overlooked when it comes to funding and policies. But the consumer knows what they want, and it’s authenticity and transparency, which is what a good SME offers. So make the most of this. Take your voice and add it to the conversation. Build your key team members into a part of your brand and your company – and make them a part of that voice. Become a part of your industry. Use your influence.
- Ideas are currency: ensure there is a mutual exchange of value, build your company’s intelligence bank – after all we are smarter together.
The backbone of the ‘We’ space for leaders and businesses is that it is commercial collaboration. For SMEs in particular, it’s important to think about the ‘We’ space as commercial evolution as opposed to revolution. SMEs are incredibly fortunate in many ways in that inherently they hold a unique value proposition. The possibilities can be endless in terms of potential. Using the ‘We’ space of commercial collaboration adds the stability to grow safely – and with the engagement and involvement of the whole business.