The world is full of great expert advice on what MSMEs need to do to grow. Much of it is either too complicated, too sophisticated, or too expensive for MSMEs to implement.
As an Entrepreneur that has operated 7 businesses in developing, emerging, and developed markets, and a Management Consultant, Certified Business Trainer, Executive Coach, Change Management, and Project Management Professional that has supported hundreds of business leaders to grow theirs, this is what our Principal, Modesta Mahiga, has found to be the most practical support SMEs can implement immediately.
1. Executive Coaching
The single greatest determinant of MSME success is leadership effectiveness. This is because an organization cannot grow beyond the capacity of its leader. John C. Maxwell calls this The Law of the Lid in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
In our 360 Leadership Newsletter, we speak about The Four stages of Leadership; (1) Self, (2) People, (3) Organizational, and (4) Industry. Many SME founders are often still grappling with the competencies required for self-leadership, and get thrown a curve bowl when entrepreneurship simultaneously introduces People, Organizational, and sometimes even Industry leadership challenges.
The most impactful investment in an MSME's growth, is investing in Executive Coaching for its top leadership.
The International Coaching Federation, the Gold Standard in Coaching, defines Executive Coaching as "ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership."
"When a leader gets better, everyone gets better."
2. Market Research
Interview MSME founders and they will tell you that they either started their businesses out of necessity for survival, compassion to meet the socio-economic needs they see around them, or opportunities they see others participating in that they would like to tap into as well.
Little, if any, of the initial decisions to start a business were informed by supporting data of viability. As such they don't have clarity on the niche they want to serve, nor their Ideal Customer Profile so that they can segment, target, and position to serve them uniquely, effectively, and efficiently. May emerging market MSMEs continue this way until one day, they can't.
Our book, The African Entrepreneur's StartUp Checklist shares, among other, thought-provoking insights, the kinds of market research SMEs can conduct that save a lot of time, money, and unnecessary growing pains.
3. Online Presence
"If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business."
-Bill Gates, Founder, Microsoft.
Sadly, a lot of MSMEs have no or a very poor online presence, even though the individuals operating them usually do.
"Ignoring online marketing is like opening a business and not telling anyone."
-KB Marketing Agency
Whether to promote an existing product or service, or to create a new one, MSMEs must build and monetize their businesses online, regardless of the tangibility or intangibility nature of their product or service.
"It's hard to find things that won't sell online."
-Jeff Bezos, Founder Amazon.com
Going digital is often a low-cost, effective, and efficient means for MSMEs to:
1. Increase organic and advertising reach.
2. Build customer connection and engagement.
3. Gather market insights.
4. Distinguish value proposition against competition.
5. Analyze product performance.
6. Promote business and products brands.
7. Learn industry developments and trends.
8. Grow network.
9. Sell products/services.
10. Facilitate transactions and payments.
With businesses being strapped for cash, being able to leverage e-commerce and digital marketing can be the difference between survival and death for MSMEs. This is precisely why we created this online course to help individuals, whether employed or entrepreneurs, build and monetize their products and services online.