How Christmas Could Work Wonders for Your SME Business

For SMEs Christmas can be a challenging but rewarding time of year. In this article we explore why Christmas could perform absolute wonders for your SME business.

Customers like Small Retail Businesses

When thinking about the benefit of Christmas to SMEs the most obvious area of benefit is retail sales. Customers are awash with money to spend in retail shops, pubs and restaurants at this time of year, particular reasons they love small retail businesses are:

  • Many customers like to shop locally at small independent businesses
  • Many customers like original/unique gifts so look for small local businesses or boutique websites rather than giants (e.g. not a “bog standard” M&S toiletries set!)
  • Many consumers like the personalised service local smaller businesses bring, in many cases the customer will have known the proprietor(s) for many years

Benefits to Non-Retail Businesses

The benefits of the Christmas party aren’t all for retail businesses though. Here are a number of other ways in which the business season can be beneficial to non-retail SMEs:

  • There is the chance for staff to have some annual leave, relax with family and recharge their batteries
  • There will be many networking functions around the Christmas season, this is a chance to create new business opportunities at a time of year where people are more cheerful and generally more receptive
  • Sending Christmas cards to clients may sound like a chore but this can be a great networking and sales opportunity. It’s a chance for re-engagement and many deals have been clinched which originated from a customer remembering a company from a Christmas card

holiday season

Sending business cards can be a real opener to new business opportunities

Image Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/49/fc/70/49fc70d2f0f6ba18a2ef77652fa393e0.jpg

 

  • Christmas is often a time where housekeeping jobs can be caught upon, particularly for businesses with plant closures. It’s an ideal time for stocktaking, decorating and premises maintenance, etc.
  • Let’s just blast the myth that Christmas is only beneficial to retailers (which some might think). The fact is that retailers sell what has previously been manufactured, so for a manufacturing business there sales are likely to have come months earlier, so in other words “Christmas came early!”. Retailers have to buy the stock from somewhere!

Making the most of the Christmas party

Surveys suggest that over 50% of employees dread the annual Christmas party.

office party

The office Christmas party has lots of potential benefits to all SMEs

Image Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e7/30/c4/e730c435264f1857a9cfea357ce4e2b4.jpg

There is no reason this should be the case though and a Christmas party if handled correctly could be a real “shot in the arm” for an SME, here are some of the reasons why:

  • The MD should (briefly) share success stories of the past year with staff and thank everybody for their hard work over the past year
  • It’s a chance for staff at all levels to network and get attention, share ideas, thoughts and inspirations for the year ahead
  • It’s a great opportunity to let staff know they are appreciated and valued. Although many people think money is motivating it’s effect is temporary, feeling valued has long-term benefits throughout the year for a business

So hopefully you’ll agree that Christmas can be a time of wonder for the SME, especially when some of the above ideas are included as part of the celebrations!

Image Credits: Najya B and Party Pieces

 

Read More
Using technology to differentiate traditional businesses

Today the Internet and technology have a huge influence on the world of business. It’s fair to say that without it, many of the small businesses that have been set up over the last decade; simply wouldn’t exist. However, it’s not just new businesses that benefit from using technology. Many traditional businesses are now choosing to utilise it, in order to differentiate themselves and stand out to customers.

Here we’ll take a look at a few traditional businesses and how they are using technology.

credit card and keyboard

Thanks to online banking websites and mobile apps, customers can now manage their money at home.

Image source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5569/14399012925_6609beab0a.jpg

Banks

Traditionally if you wanted to take money out of your bank account, move it to another account or set up a regular payment, you would need to visit your local branch. Today, however, banks are embracing technology by creating online banking sites and even mobile apps that allow consumers to manage their money on the go or from the comfort of their own homes.

Whilst banks are facing stiff competition from non-traditional lenders, there is a huge opportunity for them to utilise technology to retain their customers. It’s all about creating tech-savvy products that are easy and convenient for customers to use. Basically, banking technology needs to make life a little easier for the average person.

Retail stores

Many people automatically assume that the Internet and technology have ruined the high street by stealing customers’ away from its retail stores. However, it could be argued that it’s actually helped some traditional brick and mortar stores to differentiate themselves. For example, some stores are now using technology such as iBeacons to send push notifications to in-store shoppers. These push notifications inform customers of any offers in-store, as well as where to find their favourite products. Here, technology allows retail stores to personalise their in-store shopping experience and make it stand out to customers.

Restaurants

Whereas in the past, people would visit restaurants based on recommendations from their friends or reviews in the local newspaper, today the majority of diners research restaurants online. But a simple website is not enough for these traditional businesses to differentiate themselves. In order to really captivate customers and offer a unique dining experience, restaurants need to be using apps that allow customers to order food, make payments and leave feedback.

Providing WiFi in a restaurant also increases the chances of customers tweeting about their dining experience or sharing a photo on social media, which can greatly help to market traditional restaurants in today’s competitive market.

busy desk

Today many accountants actually utilise online software to manage clients accounting needs, rather than paper based books.

Image source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5293/5537894072_c4e46bfce1.jpg

Accountants

Accountancy businesses would traditionally require clients to visit their premises in order to deal with finance and tax matters, however more and more are now using technology as a way to differentiate themselves and make their services more appealing to clients.

For example, many accountancy firms now utilise online software so that clients can submit their financial information online, without having to make a trip out. Thanks to specialist software and online resources, accountants can now manage their clients accounting needs remotely; ensuring they meet regulatory requirements, whilst also keeping costs to a minimum. This of course helps to increase their competitiveness, as they are able to pass cost savings onto their clients and gain their loyalty.

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of the ways traditional businesses are using technology to differentiate themselves. From using push notifications to enhance in-store experience to developing mobile apps, there are so many different ways that traditional businesses can benefit.

It’s important to have the mind-set that technology can help rather than hinder traditional businesses. It’s all too easy to assume it’s the enemy, when really, if used correctly, it has the opportunity to completely transform traditional businesses and bring them into the modern age.

Image credits: kenteegardin and danielfoster437

Read More