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[Opinion] Four steps to SME success in 2022

Every new year brings with it an array of business challenges and opportunities. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences for business owners across South Africa.

“It is safe to say that the biggest factor contributing to the survival of SMEs during the pandemic has been a business’ ability to adapt quickly to the challenges it faces. Flexibility and a willingness to learn and change will determine a company’s longevity,” says Tom Stuart, Chief Marketing Officer at SME services provider Lulalend.

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SMEs can adapt to the new normal by remaining flexible and strategic in their approach to the year ahead.

Become and remain adaptable

The COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay, along with its impact on SMEs. To survive, businesses will need to continue adjusting their approach to remain relevant to their customers.

While another hard lockdown seems unlikely, and the government continues to ease certain restrictions, the virus continues to mutate into new variants and remains highly infectious.

“SMEs are likely to find that customers want to continue doing business with their preferred service providers differently and more flexibly. They also want to feel safe while doing this. Thus, it’s vital to ensure that your business remains aware and adherent to any guidelines to help your customers feel safe and attuned to what they need,” adds Stuart.

Digitise your business

As more consumers turn to mobile and online resources to procure goods and services, it’s vital that SMEs adopt an online platform where customers can easily do business with them.

Digital transformation will be critical to adapting to the current business landscape in South Africa.

Digitisation can also enable SMEs to conduct day-to-day business more seamlessly. Choosing business partners who are fully digitised can enable SMEs to manage business finances more efficiently and deliver services to their clients more effectively.

Ramp up your marketing strategy

Content marketing is a long-term play that has a valuable role in raising awareness of your products and value. Changes in consumer behaviour and the need for accurate information are an opportunity for SMEs to add a layer of value to their clients through marketing.

A marketing strategy should aim to create an effective brand presence through engaging content and measuring the success of that story by collecting and analysing feedback and data from your audience.

Use storytelling to educate your target market on what your brand stands for and how your products can solve their problems

Set up a financial plan for the year ahead

Developing an understanding of how factors such as tax, business loans and cash flow impact your financial health is imperative to running a sustainable business.

By working closely with a financial services partner that understands the financial pressures of running an SME, business owners can take control of their finances and improve their chances of growth.

Sound financial planning and management is vital to business survival.

“SMEs can become well-positioned for success when they begin to master their finances. Suppliers who have experience and a deep understanding of the financial pressures of running an SME are ideal partners for business owners,” concludes Stuart.

Featured image supplied by Lulalend

Read more: WEF report shows barriers to SME technology adoption in emerging markets

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