Brexit or no Brexit, the China-US Trade War, Trump’s Tweets – life goes on for SMEs

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01/10/2019

Pick a topic. Maybe it’s Brexit. Trump’s impeachment. The China/US trade war. Pick a topic on any given day of the week and it seems there’s a new reason to hide under the duvet.

You will be pleased to know that we’re not going to talk about politics today. Because whatever the broadsheets or the tabloids or social media might be saying, those of us with businesses to run know that we’ve got to get up, get dressed and get on with going and growing as usual. So how can we enable the growth of businesses, in particular SMEs, in such a seemingly unstable environment?

“A big business starts small” – Richard Branson

It might be the major players in the world’s largest cities that make the headlines, but SMEs are the backbone of an economy. For example, in the UK at the moment, 99.9% of the 5.7 million companies operating are small to medium-sized. They account for at least 99.5% of businesses in every main industry sector in the UK. They are staffed by 16.3 million people – that’s around 60% of all private sector employment in the UK. And together the annual turnover of UK SMEs hit an estimated £2 trillion in 2018. That’s 52% of all private sector revenue. Even in the City of London, 99% of the 23,580 businesses there are SMEs.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill

These are the businesses that whole countries rely upon, but they are also the ones that are most likely to be vulnerable to political and economic fluctuations. It makes times of uncertainty no time to hide under the covers. Instead, it’s a time to be more strategic with plans and pathways for growth and development. So what does that really mean when you don’t know what’s going to happen?

The only thing we can do in the face of uncertainty is take preventative measures, and surround ourselves with the right support. That allows us to make the best mindful and intentional decisions possible, rather than ones that are reactive or short term. In doing so, we aim to set out long term plans for solid growth, rather than short term panic approaches that are either too reactionary or too restrictive.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR” – Bill Gates

Of course, part of that careful planning is keeping an eye on spending; knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it at any time. For this reason we know that many an SME does not necessarily spend time investing in marketing leadership.

In many ways, this is because the function of acquiring and retaining customers, what some call business development is sometimes seen as a cost centre instead of as an investment. Return on marketing/sales investment is critical. However, while nearly every business has a CFO, many do not have a Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Marketing Officer – in other words someone who is driving the business forward through considered and strategic business development investments. Most would benefit from the business focused guidance of someone with those marketing leadership skills to direct overall strategy at key times of the year.

This is where the role of a fractional CMO, CEO Whisperer or Non Executive Director, like the team at gigCMO, adds value. Offering an outside perspective and senior level strategy, we bring expertise to the top table at a fraction of the cost of a full time member of the team.

In the words of Fractional CMO Susanne Pugsley: “Most businesses don’t need a senior strategy person all the time, but once a month, a quarter or even a year is a very good idea. It’s much more affordable and you get more value for your money.”

We can’t prevent uncertainty, but we can approach it intelligently.