Tips from the inside: Advice to SMEs on how to be successful

SMETom Seymour, Sales Director at Durham County Cricket Club, shares his tips from the inside to anyone about to set off on their journey as a director of a small or medium-sized enterprise.

If you’re a director at a fledging SME or just about to set off on the journey, here are my tips from the inside to help you get the best start possible.

The most important thing any SME needs to do is find their niche. No matter what market you’re entering, there are going to be two or three big, established brands who you simply won’t have the resources to compete head-to-head with in every department. However, if you focus all of your efforts on a specific niche, you’ll be able to offer a product or service which will hold up against your competitors. Find success in a niche, and you’ll be able to grow your business from there. A great example of this is the tech giant Apple, who started off producing computers before going on to dominate the smartphone, laptop, and tablet markets.

Once your business is up and running, the most important thing you can do on a day to day basis is track every aspect of your business. After a few months, you’ll get a picture of how much revenue each activity is bringing in, as well as how much company time is going into it. According to Pareto’s principle, 80% of all results come from 20% of the efforts. You’ll only find the fruitful 20% by tracking your revenue streams and seeing what’s providing the most value. When a picture starts to emerge, you should push all your resources into the small handful of activities which produce the majority of your value. This will allow you to excel in these areas and maximise your revenue. You can then go on to tackle the weaker aspects of your industry from a position of strength. Going back to the example of Apple, they made a name for themselves by focusing all of their resources on producing the best computers they could before expanding into other markets. In your own business, 80% of your revenue may come from 20% of your clients, products, or services. Focusing all of your attention on these will lead to the most profit.

Finally, from day one you need to make sure you’re dedicating adequate attention to your marketing. While you may have no experience with social media, SEO, or blogging yourself, it’s important to hire employees or contractors to handle this side of the business for you. It simply doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, you won’t make any money if the right people aren’t finding out about it. Put in the work at the start and define your target market, find out where you’ll be able to reach them, and figure out how to get them engaged with your brand. Your efforts will pay themselves back a hundred fold later down the line.

Keep these tips in mind when you start up your own SME and you’ll go a long way to succeeding in whatever market you enter.

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