Innovation and adaption almost go hand in hand, and never more so than in the last two years. I have always thought of myself as a salmon, swimming against the tide, and in 2021, when everybody was working from home and closing offices, I moved to a new office, away from home, for the first time in the history of my business. This was essentially how I adapted and innovated, I took the risk and I planned for growth!
While I run a small business, it is almost 19 years old and we have weathered a few storms during those times. Having taken a few direct hits due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we noticed in mid-2020 that the technology market (our industry speciality) was starting to experience another growth spurt. By the end of February 2021, the growth was more evident and it coincided with my desire to move into an office away from home.
Behind this growth was the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in a greater need for human connection from consumers and businesses alike, and technology was to play a vital role. Being locked down had left so many people feeling isolated and we recognised that we could help address this through communications strategies, storytelling and the implementation of PR campaigns. Since then, my business has grown 81% and thankfully my Covid risk has paid off so far.
After the year we've had, SMEs need to make sure they are positioned to maximise their profits and build their customer base over the coming holiday season...
Jason Mellow 3 Dec 2021
Adapt and innovate
You don’t adapt and innovate without learning and a significant part of my growth strategy lies in learning new things. By far the best investment I have made in my business was hiring a business coach. The learning is endless and it has time and again proven to be the smartest thing I could do as a small business owner with a growth objective. Even if you don’t think you need it, the right coach will greatly assist you to address areas where you feel you are not confident and help you develop and evolve your business.
I have learnt immeasurable lessons about running a business, from financial to organisational aspects. Probably the most beneficial is to understand your budget and manage your cashflow correctly. When a business scales, your liquidity is everything. I have had some tight months managing a bigger team and I am so glad I had a mentor in my business coach who greatly assisted the process.
As we move into 2022, my strategy hasn’t changed, although my approach has quite significantly. Focus will be 100% on managing the scaling business. I have seen the downside of growing too fast and my efforts will go to stabilising where we are now so that in the second quarter, I can effect more growth in the business. Part of the stabilisation is retaining key employees and agreeing on the strategy for the company and how we will evolve what we do to meet the changing needs of our clients, and part is helping our clients evolve in a challenging economy and rapidly evolving sector. I plan to relaunch the brand with a compelling offering that will set us apart from our competitors, while continuing to make us the unique brand that is GinjaNinja.
Here are my hacks for PR and small business success:
- Hire a business coach; negotiate a reasonable fee that you can afford and evolve the service from there.
- Create processes and systems for everything; start thinking like the small sibling of a big business.
- Manage your debtors every day; this will, in turn, help you manage your cash flow.
- Know that cash flow is, indeed, king - nothing else matters.
- Communicate with your team often about everything that relates to the business.
- Don’t create organisational charts, rather adopt a functional accountability approach.
- Appreciate and look after your key talent, without them growth is not possible.
- Be authentic in all that you do, honesty is not only easier but mostly disarming.
- Have a budget and visit it monthly while doing your management accounts.
- To quote Oprah, never let anyone else sign off expenses, always know what the business is paying for.