Building your reputation as an SME is a difficult hill to climb. As you are essentially coming from nothing, you need to work a lot harder than more established brands to get your product or service well known within your target audience. As new customers will have no frame of reference for your reputation or your ability to deliver, there are a number of different things you can do to raise your profile effectively.
Most SMEs start out with a single person or a small group of people. In this start-up phase, it can be valuable to think of yourself as the brand incarnate. The image you project of yourself will be closely related to how people perceive your business. For this reason, it’s valuable to get your own name well known in your industry in tandem with your business so your business looks better by association.
There’s a number of different opportunities here that are worth pursuing. Getting your name bandied about on platforms like LinkedIn is certainly a good place to start. Here you can engage with people on a one to one basis, and demonstrate your own expertise in the context of selling your business to a wider audience. Build on this further by personalizing blog posts on your company website and show your acumen by turning your company’s website into a resource for industry-specific news and knowledge.
As many owners of SMEs and one-man enterprises will attest, getting past the stage of it just being you running the business can be a difficult thing to overcome. The statistics prove this point as well; the majority of start-up businesses rarely go beyond having one employee. If you’re prepared to take on a role of manager and delegate tasks to one or more people, be sure to undertake your research into what it takes to bring people into your business and become an effective leader.
Another barrier to growth comes from finding the funds that can help you procure more resource. Once companies make it through the initial set-up phase, they might start courting investors to help them reach the next level of growth. One way that people choose to invest their money is through OEICs or Open-Ended Investment Companies. This is an attractive scheme for investors due to its flexibility and the potential returns that come from investing this way.
Learning to Innovate
As your company grows, you need to adapt to the changing conditions that come with your brand becoming more widely known. It’s important to remember that the things that brought you success in spreading your name at one point in time might not bring the same levels of success in the months and years ahead. In keeping an eye on the wider marketplace, as well as your competitors, you can develop a messaging strategy that retains effectiveness as your company continues to grow.
The early stages of getting your business off the ground is when you will be at your most vulnerable. Giving people an awareness of your operations from the beginning will help you to grow beyond the SME stage. We commonly see businesses struggling with the next stage of growth, and it comes with a fear of the unknown on the part of the entrepreneur who is steadying the ship. The thought of expansion and new opportunities presents both opportunity and risk, so a little apprehension is only natural.
Those who take risks in business are the ones most likely to achieve long-term success, and having the knowledge to recognise when a risk is worth taking is what sets success apart from failure.