EMPLOYING over half the workforce, driving significant growth in the private sector, and representing some 98% of all businesses, SMEs are the lifeblood of the South African economy.
That’s according to Tom Stuart, Chief Marketing Officer of SME services provider Lulalend, who said digital transformation, COVID-19 awareness, shifting supply-chain trends, and operational optimisations, are among the key areas where SMEs can drive improvements, and thrive in 2022.
“These businesses are implementing expanded digital marketing tools, decentralised remote work, e-commerce capabilities, cloud-based data centres, and improved cyber-security measures,” Stuart said.
He added that shifts in global supply-chain trends, the principles of sustainability (both financial, material and socio-economic), and the circular economy (which encompasses notions of zero-waste, decarbonisation, and renewable-energy generation), are now widely accepted within the supply-chain space.
“To ensure resilient, stable supply chains, SMEs must cultivate an ecosystem of trusted supply-chain partners, and the agility to pivot between various suppliers and strategies. They must also fave contingencies for common hurdles and disruptions in place.”
Stuart said focusing on the operational efficiencies that their smaller teams allow, SMEs may be able to achieve quicker turnaround times than their larger counterparts.
“While larger operations can become sluggish under their own weight, SMEs are driven by small, specialised teams that can remain agile, and consistently deliver their top-quality products and services.”
Stuart believes that at the broader business level, differentiation is essential for SMEs.
“Your unique selling proposition (USP) is the heart of your brand identity, informing every aspect of your overall marketing strategy. Harness the power of your USP, and make sure you stand out.”
Keeping abreast of COVID-19 developments is also an essential component of any SME’s strategic considerations for 2022, he said.
“SMEs should closely monitor the local, national and regional COVID-19 situations, be responsive and adapt fluidly to new developments and challenges as they arise. Rigorous adherence to safety protocols will protect your staff and customers and demonstrates your business’s values and professionalism.”