When you ask a South Australian small to medium business owner how they go about achieving significant growth, their answer invariably includes the word innovation.
It’s what we excel at here in SA – among many other things. When you’re in a relatively small market with limited obvious growth potential, you innovate to succeed.
By their very definition, our Fast Movers are at the top of their game – growing their profits, their staff numbers, their product lines, their customer base and in turn helping to grow our state.
Each year the Fast Movers survey provides us with an opportunity to find out what makes these outstanding South Australian SME’s tick – their strategies, successes and challenges offer insight into what it takes to not just succeed, but thrive.
In this year’s Fast Movers survey, business owners consistently identified core factors that have resulted in their growth: Planning and – here’s that magic word – innovation.
As responses go, these seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often business owners get these fundamentals wrong. During a growth phase, it’s so easy to shift focus to the end game (profit) to the detriment of a structured, sustainable business model.
‘Accidental’ growth, that which takes place without pre-determined, strategic planning, is unstructured, suffers from poor leadership and is ultimately unsustainable. Our Fast Movers understand that failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail.
Nearly all, (95 per cent) of Fast Movers said their growth was planned, and the vast majority of respondents (76 per cent) have a written business plan. If you’re looking to identify a common denominator of success, it’s hard to go past percentages like these.
Taking the time to assess your aspirations, to identify and convert them into organised action plans is essential to realising your businesses growth potential.
A common thread in each of the stories told by those surveyed was that in their journey of growing and developing a small business into booming enterprise, they have learnt exactly what their customers want and adapted to suit.
Just over half attribute their past growth to either winning market share from competitors or introducing new products and services, and see these as key to continued future growth.
Whether expanding or changing the products and services they offer, adapting their marketing strategies or re-structuring internal systems & processes to suit – Fast Movers are willing, and able, to meet market demand.
Importantly, they have also been able to maintain an optimistic mindset and level of self-belief that defies all challenges. When surveyed, the majority of Fast Movers were anticipating continued revenue and profit growth over the coming year.
77% were expecting revenue to increase by at least 20%, which is significant coming from businesses that are already experiencing high rates of growth. While the state of the South Australian economy has been the topic of much discussion over the past month, it would seem there is no shortage of optimism amongst the ranks of our Fast Movers.
Asked to identify their main obstacles to growth, our Fast Movers remained consistent with previous years and identified sourcing, managing and retaining quality staff with the right skills as one of their biggest challenges.
Building an attractive workplace culture, with remuneration and benefits that are competitive is key to attracting the right people. Knowing how to go about this, and having the time and energy to commit to the process, can be difficult in an SME.
This is a continuing hot topic for South Australian business and a challenge for our state that we are yet to identify the right solution for. Educating and keeping our talent, across all industries, is essential to our SME’s ability to grow and innovate.
Despite this, the overarching theme to come from our respondents this year is one of optimism and a drive to continue pushing the boundaries of doing business from and in South Australia – it’s an exciting time for innovation in our State, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.