Ode to SMEs

By Sean
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 46 seconds.

2020 has been an object lesson in not taking what we have for granted, on so many levels. One that applies to business too.

I’m not talking about big business (although they have their challenges), I’m talking the small and medium businesses (SMEs) – the backbone of our economy – who have done some pretty inspiring and brave things to survive and thrive this year.

Changing up 

The ingenuity and creative thinking I’ve witnessed has been quite remarkable. From rethinking how to reach and serve customers, to repurposing product lines, to ensuring survival by shifting entire business models. Yes, because they were forced to, but also because it meant they could continue serving customers in the best way.

I respect these ambitious folks who face a (big) problem head-on with a steely determination to make it work. But isn’t that SMEs all over? In my experience, these sharp business leaders and employees always try to do the right thing, go that extra mile, try that bit harder.

We try harder

It reminds me of the old Avis slogan “We try harder”. Being number 2 in the market meant doing more to win over customers. This enduring line (retired in 2012 after 50 years) went on to become part of the fabric of the business, reflecting its values and decisions.

It’s how I see SMEs, trying harder to deliver for their customers – doing it without the luxury of being an outright market leader. And even if they are, it’s often within a niche area where they have to work hard to build traction – good old grit, determination and working smart wins the day.

Believe in better

By trying harder, SMEs innovate, disrupt and provide exceptional value, often on limited funds. And, in my experience, nine times out of 10, they do this because they believe in ‘better’ – better service, better customer outcomes, better opportunities for themselves, and a better future. Money plays its part, but as a byproduct of achieving some form of better.

So I salute SMEs for trying harder, sometimes against the odds. I hope 2021 rewards them for their well-earned efforts.

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