Latest statistics from the government show that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of Singapore’s economy. They make up 99% of our enterprises, employ two-thirds of our workforce, and account for about half of Singapore’s GDP.
The SMEs have also been very fortunate to have tremendous support from the government. Numerous grants like the PIC and CDG grants have been made available to help them thrive in today’s economy. So why are some of these businesses not achieving their desired growth despite such strong incentives?
In my observation of the hundreds of business owners I’ve gotten to know the last few years, I have seen a few common issues that have prevented their business from growing to the next level. Some even started going downhill despite the owners being extremely hardworking.
The first issue is that they do not evolve fast enough. As the market and the customer preferences change, they do not adapt new strategies along with it. They like the status quo because “It has always been done that way”. At the other end of the spectrum, there are businesses that always focus on the latest shiny red ball. These business owners are always keen to try out the latest trend and they jump from one strategy to the next without monitoring which ones really yield the result. Guess what happens then? That’s right! They use up their marketing budget pretty quickly and they don’t have a constant pipeline of business coming their way.
Let’s now look at the massively successful businesses. While part of their success may be attributed to certain special factors, I see three key areas that they get right first and foremost. And these form the unshakeable foundation that the businesses can then flourish on. Yes, before all the fancy new stuff comes into the picture, you need to get these foundations strong first. Otherwise, can you imagine what happens to the home when the foundation is weak?
The three foundations are: Money, Team, and Time. No brainer? Absolutely. But let’s go deeper into each one of them.
How has your revenue been the last few years? Has it been going up and up each year? Or has it been pretty much the same, or even worse, declining?
Wait. That was a trick question. The real question is: “How has your PROFIT been the last few years?” Isn’t that the reason we are all in business?
A lot of the time we are so fixated on the revenue we forgot to ensure that we have a healthy profit margin. But at the end of the day isn’t profit the one you’ll be taking home?
One of the real life reasons for lower profit margin is running endless marketing activity without tracking mechanism to measure the result. I have seen a lot of businesses suffer from this. They spent thousands of dollars on advertising and promotional campaigns, but they never asked their prospects and customers how they found out about their businesses. Imagine if you know exactly which of your campaigns work. Will it help you plan your marketing strategies better?
What else can you do to improve your profit margin? Can you think of at least 3 more?
So now you’ve got the money part sorted out. The next thing that you may want to look at is your team. Once you’ve made your money, you can now start to recruit and expand your team.
Now the question is, are your team members fully engaged? Do they believe fully in your vision for the company and are they striving to make it happen every single day? Are they communicating well with one another and constantly meeting or even surpassing their KPIs?
Having coached business owners in Singapore, one of their main challenges seems to be recruiting the right talents and keeping them motivated so that they will consistently deliver what is expected of them. What is the danger of having a team that is not performing to their full potential? That’s right! Waste of resources indeed! What about attrition? How much money do you think you need to spend each time you need to get a replacement for another team member who just left? Not to mention the time you need to take to train and onboard the person.
When was the last time you invested in your team to ensure they are performing at their best and they are happy to go to work every day?
What are some of the strategies you can think of to motivate your team and to make sure they are fully engaged?
Last but definitely not the least on our list is time. One observation I made is that you, Singapore business owners, are a really hardworking bunch. It may be due to the fact that you are an expert in your field, maybe even the best. It may also be because your team members can’t do the work as well as you can. So you end up spending more and more time in the business as it grows.
Do you realise then, even though you may have set out to embark on a business, you just ended up with a job?
Of course, it is also true that you cannot delegate the work to your team members without setting them up for success. I have also seen horrible customer experiences which resulted from delegating important tasks without proper preparation.
So what do you think needs to happen before the proper delegation can happen?
Will it be worth your while to list down your responsibilities and deciding which ones can be delegated to your team? What kind of framework will you use to get this done?
So yes, back to basics. Money, Team and Time. What is covered in this article is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to have a more in-depth discussion on what needs to be done for your business to build these strong foundations and take it to the next level, you can claim a 1-hour complimentary Business Diagnostics (worth $100) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending a message to 97600826 with your contact details.
As a business coach with ActionCoach Global, Felicia is passionate about helping business owners and leaders to work ON the business, not IN the business. She does this through a proven system that has worked for tens of thousands of businesses across more than 70 countries. Felicia excels in areas of Sales & Marketing, team engagement, and building systems into the business.