There are only 24 hours in a day and as the owner of a small-and-medium-sized enterprise (SME), no one is more aware of this than yourself. This is why when it comes to building up your business, every waking hour you spend should be dedicated to the things that truly matter. Here are the five functions in your SME – and it does not matter if each is only staffed by one or even half an employee – that you ought to focus on keeping a close eye on.
- Research & Development Regardless of whether it is a product or service that your SME is selling, you’re offering something that will help solve your customer’s problem. This is the reason you started the business, which is why you should constantly be looking at how to improve and evolve it through research and development. But we aren’t saying you need a fully equipped science lab. Instead, be constantly on the lookout for inspiration, tinker with it, watch what the industry and your competitors are doing, and be alert to future trends that might impact your business.
- Business Development You’re not really helping anyone if you have a business that solves problems but nobody knows about it, which is why business development is such an important function. More specifically, it brings home the dough through building a network. Come up with a strategy, if you don’t have one in the first place, that will help you understand where your potential customers are. It should also include how to attract investors (read our post on how to get investor-ready here) if you decide to grow the business.
- Marketing Often ignored and misunderstood because it tends to be a significant cost centre, the marketing function does deserve its fair share of love. Why? Because it is how you will be reaching out to both potential and existing customers. This department helps build your brand so it becomes well-known and recognised. It ensures the message you’re trying to send out to the market is consistent and in a good place. This is also where that all-important sub-division called digital marketing is parked – managing your social media channels, electronic direct mailers and online distribution channels, just to name a few.
- Sales The customer is king and no department chants that more than this one. Sales is the frontline, the person on the ground, who is constantly in touch with your customer and strengthening the relationship between your business and the end-user. It is important to engage with this function to have an idea of what people are saying about your product or service offering. On the flipside, make sure this team is equipped with all the right tools they need – both literal and metaphorical – so that they will be able to focus on selling. What’s also important is to keep them happy. A disgruntled sales team member can do an infinite amount of harm to your business.
- Finance and the back office These guys are the foundation of your SME, ensuring the gears are well-oiled and the parts are well-maintained. Finance, especially, keeps track of the checks and balances, so that you have positive cash flow and a healthy bottom-line. One way to make it a breeze to manage this part of the business is to work with PikoHANA.