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Pragmatic pathways for SME businesses and business owners

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Until now, the relatively slow speed of marketplace evolution has allowed wasteful habits to continue without consequence.

But given the rapid technology revolution and evolving business environment, companies can no longer rely on playbooks of yesteryear — or even yesterday.

In the world of constant changes, it’s important for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to build a culture which cultivates imagination.

SMEs should consider how they move from innovating at a product and service level — that is, flooding the market with new, marginally improved products — to innovating at an institutional level.

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This change requires firms to rethink even the primary objective of why they exist and drastically change their management mindset.

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, a focus on scale efficiencies is not enough. Transformative change is required.

At Deloitte, we see pragmatic pathways as a framework for SMEs seeking to embark on this difficult but necessary transformation.

  • First, by focusing on edges rather than the core of a company, change agents can better identify opportunities that align with Big Shift forces and therefore are most likely to achieve significant and sustainable returns.
  • Second, by leveraging external resources and low-cost technologies rather than internal support, these edges can circumvent the scrutiny and organisational resistance with which change initiatives are typically met, allowing the edge to move faster.
  • Finally, by accelerating learning rather than focusing solely on short-term outcomes, edges can rapidly demonstrate impact, pulling the organisation to the edge, and becoming conduits of transformation that help today’s companies innovate the institution and tap into tomorrow’s opportunities.

Governments around the world are building up the narrative to help SMEs transform either with programmes that driver adoption of exponential technologies or utilities such as payments, identity that offer services to help SMEs scale up with digital world.

Many such programmes around the world face adoption/usage challenges. Without the desire and clarity in priorities of the SME business owners it will be difficult to scale them up.

Our research has shown that it is critical for SME business owners to take four actions and tilt their thinking.

1. Stay on top of exponential technologies and their possibilities

Take responsibility for understanding what technology can do in pursuit of your policy objectives, incorporate into your vision and be willing to reimagine your organisation with technology working in concert with your people.

2. Embody a great place to work with a sense of purpose and inclusion

Leaders set the tone of the organisation that is attractive to high performers. This means nurturing a culture that embraces different way of working, a sense of purpose and a commitment to providing an environment that welcomes all.

3. Invest energy into your own support

Leaders need people around them that they can trust. They should maintain relationships with people who can help identify signals from noise. Leaders need to invest time and energy to build them.

4. Re-think visibility

As pace of business dials up, business functions become more virtual, work force demands flexibility leaders will need to re-think ways in which employees and market can experience their presence.

In summary, success demands that leaders seriously challenge their current playbook and rethink the way they see the world and the company’s role in the broader business environment.

Executives may need to change the lens through which they view their firm in order to start identifying the edge that can gain momentum and ultimately transform their organisation.

Within many businesses, there is tremendous opportunity for innovation and growth right now - on the edge.

Mohit Mehrotra is strategy consulting co-leader at Deloitte Asia Pacific.

This article is part of a series in collaboration with CPA Australia to share knowledge on accounting, business and finance issues.