Periods of growth are exciting for all businesses, but they can also create a host of challenges. Often, SMEs struggle with funding – one recent study found that one in three small businesses want to grow their operations, but don’t know how to finance this expansion. The added administrative burden of taking on additional staff or opening new offices can also be a deterrent.
Frequently, growth also demands investment in new technology. SMEs can face serious problems with productivity, employee engagement and even customer service if they don’t have adequate technology in place. Data networks and phone systems that suffice for a ten-person team just won’t do for a one hundred-strong office.Minimising risk while investing in the future
Although these investments offer exciting opportunities, they all involve a financial outlay – and that creates risk. Risk can be off-putting at the best of times, but given that political and economic uncertainty is thought to be holding back business growth in some sectors, it seems many are currently very wary of inviting additional risk into their plans.
Certain investments into business growth, like opening a new office, simply have to be committed to in full – there’s no way around it if your current premises don’t offer the space you need. Fortunately, if you’re investing in new technology to aid growth, there’s much more scope for research, flexibility and scalability. All of which help companies to grow in a low-risk way.
Taking time for research
It’s impossible to tell exactly how a new platform, solution or device will work in your business. And since many SMEs don’t have a dedicated CIO or a dedicated IT department, this task often falls to somebody who is juggling other priorities in their position. So, the first step to growing with minimal risk is to ensure you carry out thorough research and due diligence into the platforms and partners you work with.
Fortunately, there is a huge amount of resources available to support your investment decision, whether you’re considering the right data services or the most suitable phone system. Consider case studies of existing customers, and shop around to find a vendor who can offer you an appropriate Service Level Agreement (SLA). Thorough research can’t eliminate risk altogether, but it should go some way to avoiding problems down the line.
Anticipating what’s coming
Nobody can predict the future. But considering how rapidly technology has changed in the last decade, it’s safe to assume this will only continue in coming years. In light of this, SMEs should consider seeking out cloud solutions instead of on-premise applications. This approach can help smaller businesses avoid the pitfall of being stuck with technology that could rapidly become outdated, empowering you to adapt to whatever the future brings. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), like cloud computing, is therefore an excellent option for SMEs looking to grow with minimal risk.
In fact, growing SMEs are ideal ‘cloud leapers’, who can move seamlessly from having no in-house servers or PBX systems, to enjoying a fully managed service. Better still, instead of purchasing expensive on-premise solutions, cloud computing can be offered on an opex model, in which you only pay for what you use.
Prioritise flexible solutions
Businesses looking to grow without significant risk should also prioritise flexible technology solutions, as these are far more agile than fixed alternatives. A hosted phone system could be one to consider here, as this can provide businesses with an easy-to-use telephony solution that can accommodate growth, whilst keeping costs down.
Or, for businesses with a PBX, SIP trunks are another key example of a scalable service investment that comes with little risk. SIP trunks offer growing businesses complete flexibility, with the ability to add and remove call lines as needed. This means you can increase lines during growth periods, but with no risk of needlessly paying for capacity at a later date. Should you choose to move office, number flexibility means you can keep existing numbers, even if you’re moving out of the area.
A flexible future for SMEs
Growth will always require some degree of investment, so there’s no avoiding risk altogether. This is something SMEs should always be mindful of, because unlike their larger competitors, smaller organisations are likely to be harder hit by the repercussions of a bad decision. But with the right research and an emphasis on flexible solutions, SMEs can go some way to ensuring their technology always supports their goals, instead of hindering them. Helping on the path to businesses growth, with minimal financial risk.