“Stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach.” -Tony Robbins
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, combined with the Information Age, are forcing rapid changes in the way organisations, irrespective of size, do business with their target audience and their suppliers. A perfect example of this is the rapid rise of the online retailer at the expense of the brick-and-mortar store retail business.
Therefore, the question that is most likely in the forefront of every business owner’s mind is how to adapt to the “new way” of doing business without running out of money and being forced to shut down.
Before we look at answers to this question, let’s consider definitions to several key phrases to ensure a true understanding of the topic at hand:
What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
According to www.weforum.org, the Fourth Industrial Revolution” represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another.” It is considered a new episode in human development, “enabled by extraordinary technology advances comparable with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions.”
Succinctly stated, the physical, technological, and biological worlds that were separate and independent of each other are now being merged to develop new technologies and ways of thinking.
An SME: A succinct definition
An SME or Small Medium Enterprise is differentiated from a large corporate organisation because of its unique features. These differences include the number of employees, management structure, legal structure, and business tax implications.
Historically, the size of a business determined its ability to compete in today’s crowded marketplace. Ergo, the bigger the organisation, the higher the marketing spend, and the greater the target audience reach.
In today’s digitally connected world, organisational size and structure do not matter. The online space has provided and continues to offer, all businesses equal marketing reach, irrespective of the potential value of the marketing spend.
Finally, the most significant difference between doing business in today’s digitally connected world is that the final say of which brands of a particular product consumers purchase is down to the customer experience.
Consumers are now asking “what can the brand do for me” as opposed to the past where brands informed its target audience why they should be purchasing a particular brand. This change in attitude is a very subtle but vital shift, and it should not be ignored.
Ways to grow your business organisation
By way of answering the question posited above, here are five ways to expand your business from a small start-up to a mature, fully functional, profitable organisation:
Maintain a level of agility in the adoption of the business model
It is vital to stick to the core ethos and raison d’etre for the organisation’s existence. However, as the quotation quoted at the outset of this discourse states, it is equally important to remain flexible as to how the business fundamentals are implemented.
In practical terms, it is often wise to work with a business and personal coach to ensure that your business stays on track in terms of its model and aim, while adopting an agile approach to achieving its core purpose.
Conduct a SWOT analysis
This point goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Primarily, a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) assists business owners in determining where the organisational strengths and weaknesses are, and it helps brand owners plot the way forward.
Ergo, weaknesses and threats to business success must be analysed and turned into strengths and opportunities. And, if management is not aware of the negatives, it is impossible to turn them into positives.
Use Big Data, Business Intelligence, and predictive analytics
One of the advantages of doing business in the Post-Digital Age, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is the availability of data about every imaginable topic.
And, at the same time, while it is not a good idea to get side-tracked by meaningless data, large amounts of business-specific data when converted into meaningful information can and will provide business owners with the ability to review past successes, and failures, to forecast future sales trends.
The content in this article can be considered nothing more than just the “first few thoughts” on the vast topic of ensuring organisational growth and success. However, it must be noted that these “few words” are a vital part of every SME’s journey to success, and they should not be disregarded or side-stepped. Because, unfortunately, if these pointers are ignored, there is a good chance that the business will shrink and ultimately fail.