How strategy consulting can take your SME to the next levelEmma
As an SME, your business faces several challenges. There’s the challenge of keeping your cash flow regular and healthy. There’s the challenge of red tape around labour laws, employment equity and BEE requirements. There’s the challenge of being overly reliant on a few single clients for income. But most of all, there’s the challenge of moving the business to the next level, where there are more clients, more employees and a more abundant flow of cash.
Often, small business owners feel like they have hit a brick wall when it comes to growth. How can the business break out of its current rhythm and attract new business on a grander scale? Small business owners are – understandably – caught up in the motions of keeping the business going. They’re making sales pitches, managing quality, balancing the books, managing employees and making sure that goods and services are delivered on time.
With all these responsibilities to juggle, small business owners often cannot find the time to change gears from an operational mindset to a strategic one. And without a strategic mindset, it’s impossible to plot the growth and movement that the business needs to get on to a different plane. It appears that the business owner is caught in a chicken and egg scenario: there’s no time to get strategic, and there never will be time to get strategic unless you do. There is another way to break out of the rut, however. It’s called strategy consulting, and it will help you take your SME to the next level.
Strategy consulting improves performance. One of the reasons strategy consulting works is because it allows an alternate, outside perspective on the prospects of the business. Instead of seeing the business the same way as the business manager does, an external consultant sees fresh opportunities and threats that the business owner may not. If the business environment were an airport, the strategist would be the air traffic controller while the business owner would be the pilot of the aeroplane. No one knows how to fly that aeroplane better than the pilot. But, because of his vantage point and training, the air traffic controller sees things the pilot does not: other aircraft in the air; inclement weather that could affect the aeroplane’s ability to fly or land, and any difficulties being faced by other aeroplanes that could affect the performance of the pilot.
Several research efforts have shown that, when recommendations from the consulting process are implemented, the performance of the company improves. This could mean more output, a widened customer base, or better service levels for customers.
Strategy consulting helps the company to do more with less. Strategy consulting allows you to streamline your processes and develop greater efficiency. For example, a distribution company in Johannesburg followed a time consuming manual stock-taking exercise. Although the method was accurate, it placed a drag on human resource capacity in the company once a month. Nevertheless, the company persisted with the approach, because “that was the way things had always been done”. A strategist visited the company and immediately saw how to change and speed up the process, at the same time cutting down how many people were needed for the task. By implementing the suggestion, the company cut down the time needed for its stock-take by 40%.
Strategy consulting kick starts growth. Having top management – which knows the business — put its head down along with a seasoned strategist — who knows the company’s external environment and is aware of opportunities in the industry — is the quickest way to plot realistic growth for the business. It catalyses strategic thinking that leads to real change and ignites the possibility of moving the business onto the next tier.
If your SME is looking to expand or to become more efficient, The Finance Team has dedicated, experienced strategy consultants who can help you change your business for the better and, ultimately, achieve your goals.
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