By Anna Cornwallis

Adapt or die. Changes SMEs need to make.

Successful businesses have achieved their growth and on-going success through continual adaptation and change. SMEs have to be more ‘change ready’ than most, but many aren’t. Business owners often fear change as it may take them into unfamiliar territory or require skills they know they don’t have. But as one CEO shared with us recently, ‘Passive inertia and a love of the familiar can be the death knell for a small business.’ Don’t fall into this trap; make the changes your business needs to survive and thrive.

Your customers’ requirements will change

Ultimately, all businesses survive by successfully meeting customer needs. Understanding that those needs continually change is key to you understanding that your business needs to change too. The good news is that SMEs are far better placed than large companies to pivot in order to take advantage of a changing requirement or new opportunity.

Never stop talking to your customers, regularly review the market place, continually evolve your offering to keep pace with what’s needed, and get ahead of the competition.

Your strategy should change too

Your business should have a clear strategy that everyone understands and works to, but that doesn’t mean you have to carve it in stone. A long-term vision is great, but how you get there may need to evolve over time to reflect internal or external factors. A certain amount of fluidity in your strategy is not just a nice-to-have but a business essential. True entrepreneurs thrive on this change but can get carried away – chopping and changing at will. Any change of strategy requires careful planning with a clear structure, objectives and internal and external communications in place.

Are your people the right people?

How businesses change and adapt teams for growth is what we talk to our clients about most often. It is an absolute imperative that you have the right people doing the right roles for your business to succeed. This might be about transitioning founders to new roles (in or out of the business) or about bringing in new talent to broaden and deepen knowledge and skills that can take you to the next level. Bringing new people into an an established team often feels uncomfortable, particularly if that team has been together from day one, but not doing it is probably the biggest risk you can take.

Does your structure match your strategy?

Letting go of ‘the way we’ve always done it’ and embracing a new structure and new processes is often the biggest catalyst for growth. Not recognising the need to change the way the business is organised and managed will hold you back more than you would imagine. As always in business, it’s often not the decisions you make that create problems, but the ones you avoid.

So remember… 

  • Keep listening to your customers
  • Regularly review the marketplace
  • Be prepared to evolve your strategy
  • Adapt your team to meet your changing requirements
  • Change your structure and processes to facilitate growth


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