Half a day. That’s how long attendees spent at the SmartCompany and Officeworks Grow Your Business seminar last week.
Half a day is also the amount of time our expert panel recommended you need to spend working on your business rather than in your business each week.
Attendees heard from an expert panel, including business strategy advisor Mike Sewell of Market Gap Investments, social media expert Dionne Kasian-Lew of The Social Executive, cashflow expert Josh Kennedy of Crowe Horwath and futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson.
The message which came through each presentation was that smart SMEs spend time focusing on their business’ strategy and finances rather than getting caught up in the stress of day to day operations.
Sewell told the audience it’s important to step back from your business and think about strategy for a minimum of half a day a week.
“Assess where you want to be in five years and the steps you need to take to get there,” he says.
A useful method Sewell suggests is to think about what your business story will look like in SmartCompany in 2020.
“What does the headline look like?”
Kennedy says the most successful businesses check their cash flow every day.
He recommends setting aside time to talk new customers through invoices to take away the chance for customers to make an excuse at a later stage.
Kennedy also says you should get rid of clients who are wasting your precious time.
“Don’t be afraid to sack bad clients… you can focus on customers that appreciate your business,” he says.
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In that half a day a week social media expert Dionne Kasian-Lew says you should be developing a strategy for using social media.
“You can’t not be there,” she says.
Kasian-Lew says social media is not just about marketing; SMEs can use it for research and professional development.
According to Kasian-Lew, digitally mature businesses are outperforming their competitors by as much as 26%.
But in the rush to digital, futurist Sorman-Nilsson told the seminar there is still value in the “analogue”.
Sorman-Nilsson says in your half a day you should think about how you can move your business into a digital future while still retaining the “old stuff in business that still connects”.
That’s why Ikea still sends out a yearly catalogue and Sorman-Nilsson says old fashioned Christmas cards can be a great marketing tool for SMEs.
“One is about winning hearts, the other about winning minds,” he says.
SMEs need to do both.
But setting aside half a day a week is the first step to innovating, creating, setting new goals and brainstorming exciting ways to implement them.