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2012: The year of the small business? What is in store for the next financial year for SME’s Posted on October 9, 2018
Personally and professionally we were still cautious, but optmistic of what the next 12 months would bring. In the past 12 months, while there has been some improvement, Australian small businesses are still struggling under global and local economic pressures, with almost a third suffering a profit loss over the past year.
We review some of the experts predictions for the next 12 months in small business.
Predictions for small business growth for the next 12 months into 2012 is wavering between positive and negative. Despite the Australian economy reaching a more stable position and the strong growth of the Australian dollar, the year ahead for Australian small businesses promises no smooth sailing.
Higher interest rates, the strength of the Australian dollar, difficulties in sourcing loans, wage increases and a major skills shortage are to blame for restricting the growth of small firms, states Australian Industry Group and Deloitte Private’s survey, Growth Strategies for Business.
Further results of the survey indicate that the hardest hit sectors this past 12 months lie in manufacturing, services and construction. Eighty percent of companies in these sectors reported there was a shortage of skilled workers that was stunting industry growth.
Companies participating in the survey were asked to indicate their priorities in regards to improving specific areas to gain future growth. Strategic planning, process improvement, talent management and human resources were the main areas businesses feel they need to focus on to ensure growth for 2011. Out of these areas of concern, small business said that strategic planning is the area that needs the most external assistance.
So whats on the radar now? Lets have a look at 3 key ingredients everyone is talking about.
From cloud computing and the NBN to the growing emergence of mobile applications, technology is continuously being developed and improved and reducing costs for small business. Small businesses cannot afford to be left behind. No matter what the size of your business, technology has blurred the boundaries of your traditional workspace location making it a true reality to integrate tech-savvy initiatives into everyday working practices.
We have made noise in recent editions of b-Mail regarding XERO and this only further highlights this prediction.
2. Social media should be part of the marketing mix
For many of us, social media is no longer a presence confined to our computer screens at home. It has become so entwined in our lives that it’s difficult to remember life before.
Yet, according to the recently released MYOB Business Monitor survey, only 18 percent of small to medium-sized businesses are using social media as part of their marketing mix and only 35 percent have an online presence at all.
When you consider that Facebook has nearly 6 million active Australian members (that is almost one third of the entire population) these figures are astoundingly low.
Tim Reed, MYOB CEO, said: “Social media has received a lot of hype in Australia over the last 12 months so it’s quite interesting to see such a low adoption of these online platforms by Australian businesses. Rather than being well established, the results indicate that online marketing is only just emerging in Australia.”
3. Customer service
The last few years have seen the face of customer service evolve. New methods of fulfilling your customers’ needs are arriving every month, if not week. Businesses are fast learning the way to differentiate themselves from their competitors is to raise the bar in the customer service stakes.
(i) Ask customers what they want – Simple and often overlooked. The best people to tell you how you should be treating your customers are your customers.
(ii) Easy, effective communication – Different customers will want to communicate in different ways. Find the way that works best for the individual.
(iii) Be proactive – Go above and beyond what your customer expects. Even a short phone call rather than dreaded email to update will make your customer feel more appreciated.
(iv) Put yourself in your customer’s shoes – Would you be happy with the customer service if you were the customer?
(v) Train your staff – Let your staff know what is expected of them in terms of their customer service.
(vi) 10 before 10 – Pick up the phone and say hello to your primary clients before 10am. This way you ‘re top of mind to them while they are still getting organised. Ask them what their pain points are and see how you can help. This is a great way to prospect for new business opportunities with current clientele.
All signals say remain cautiously optimistic. There is no joy in talking us into another recession or part-recession.
The advice is to tread carefully, plan well, look for new markets, watch cash, use your business advisors and stay on top of sales.
To see what else is on the radar, talk to our Business Development team who stay ahead of the small business curve.