writes Jane Wills, partner, Haines Watts.
UK SMEs are undoubtedly operating in a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. While Brexit remains top of mind, disruption lurks around many corners. Building business resilience seems to me to be vital if SMEs are to meet the challenges of the future and stay relevant in an ever-changing competitive market.
Building resilience is much more than putting in place business continuity measures that enable you to deal with disaster recovery. It’s about focusing on how to position your business so that you protect your brand, your staff and your resources. So how do SMEs build better resilience?
Innovate: innovation is about creating opportunities and a culture that enables your teams to solve problems and challenge current ways of thinking. An innovative environment can attract new talent but also equip your team with the experience to deal with surprises and unexpected outcomes. For UK SMEs the risk associated with innovation is partly mitigated by the Government’s generous R&D tax credit scheme.
Diversify: it doesn’t matter what sector you’re in, reducing dependency on a particular product, supplier or market opens wider revenue opportunities and makes your business stronger at the base.
Use the talent in your business: regardless of how well you deploy technology, manage working capital or reduce dependencies, solutions come from trusting the people in your business. Enable your people to take initiative and responsibility. Give them the right tools and then get out of their way – you alone cannot build resilience.
Challenge prevailing wisdom: just because your business has always done something in a particularly way, doesn’t mean its remains the best way. Look for alternatives that are more flexible. Whether it’s a new employment model mixing full-time or contract staff, or more flexible pricing and payment options – take time to reflect on the way your business operates and whether new ways of doing things can make your business more adaptable.
Building resilience is about recognising that businesses today operate in a climate of continuous change – it’s about evolving your people, practices and thinking so that you preserve the value in your business.