Are these the most challenging days you’ve known, as a small business? And is that down to ‘digital disruption’?
‘SMEs have rarely worked through a time of more challenge – and more opportunity –’, it starts’, ‘than the current period of digital disruption.’
Characteristics Michael Keegan cites are markets, at times, changing ‘overnight’ and technology underpinning ‘virtually every sector’.
Today, he argues, as a small business owner, you ‘need a new, strategic approach to secure success’.
Does this reflect your experience?
‘The key’, this commentator is convinced, ‘lies in working with like-minded companies and collaborating together.’
Smaller businesses have one big advantage, the piece acknowledges – and something we’ve often noted: their relative agility.
‘Frequently SMEs benefit from not having to deal with legacy systems,’ it says, ‘while one of the biggest irks for larger businesses is having to be digitally innovative while also upgrading older systems in order to meet modern day customer expectations.’
But ‘SMEs cannot afford to make poor business decisions’, it’s emphatic.
Instead, ‘hiring the right staff, making smart business decisions and building a thriving platform is the only way to grow in the long term. In a larger enterprise one mistake isn’t the be all and end all but for an SME the margins are finer’.
As a small business, you can disrupt, it argues. But of course you can equally be disrupted – ‘no business is exempt’ – and need to be fully alert to that danger.
Again, it emphasises, the potential power of ‘collaboration and innovation’.
And suggests one way is for smaller and bigger businesses to work together: pooling their respective strengths.
‘While it’s true that established firms can help SMEs develop ideas and bring them to market, larger enterprises can also benefit from entirely new ideas; that’s the beauty of co-collaboration.’
Plus, of course, never, ever forget the customer, it argues.
‘The greatest SMEs only grow because they understand that the customer is the most important shareholder – the likes of Amazon, Uber and Netflix all thrived, not through their tech-driven services but because they consistently continue to provide the best in service.’
Michael Keegan argues compellingly for two key elements: what he calls ‘co-creation’ and ‘human-centric innovation’.
Here’s a summary:
‘For businesses to succeed and thrive in the modern, technology-driven world two things must happen: enterprises need to work together and innovation must have a tangible impact on society.’
Sound about right?
And that’s the case whatever the scale of your operation. So argues Michael Keegan.
‘Businesses cannot lose sight of the goal which is to create fantastic experiences for the end user. Innovation is great, but entirely wasted if it doesn’t improve society – this is true for SMEs, huge corporations or individual entrepreneurs’.
Don’t you think?
There’s a lot more in his thought-provoking piece – here we’ve just picked out some salient points.