Five Essential Tips For The Savvy Entrepreneur.

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Listen, Adopt and Apply

This article was originally published on our partner Rikvin’s website.

In its bid to drive and encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship, the Singapore government has created several programmes for small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) to leverage off on, such as the Business Advisors Programme (“BAP”) led by SPRING, which matches experienced business advisors to SMEs to provide guidance and an established network in the relevant industry. In addition, various private incubators and venture capitalist firms also provide advice and support to SMEs in Singapore.
While a sole founder or core management team can mean that decisions are clear-cut, being open-minded and listening to the views of knowledgeable business advisors can greatly benefit the business, as well as assist its management in refining and streamlining the business’ strategies and operations.

In addition, experienced business advisors may shed light on different aspects of the industry that one may not be aware of. This can help you prepare your business to face anticipated obstacles, use more cost-efficient methods, strategise how to effectively disburse your capital, or how to target a selected niche market that no other competitor in the industry has addressed.

Especially for a start-up or SME whose management team lacks the network and industry experience, being able to learn from and leverage off an experienced advisor’s network can be extremely beneficial, particularly if it could help the business cut production costs, drive sales and establish market presence.

It also pays to listen to different business advisors who have different realms of expertise. Certain business advisors will provide non-industry specific advice, such as general advice on company incorporation, compliance requirements, etc. While this may not directly contribute towards how the business operations are run, adopting their advice can potentially save the company from administrative nightmares that can result from ignorance of statutory obligations.

Understand your marketDemand feeds supply, which in turn feeds into profit and sustainability for your business. Understanding how to effectively target your market is essential in getting the right people to notice your product and spread the word.
Unlike huge multi-national corporations (“MNCs”), which have substantial marketing budgets to push their products, SMEs often have limited funding for marketing. Hence, SMEs have to go beyond attractive packaging or one form of advertising to appeal to their key customer base. Even if a company chooses to outsource to a professional advertising or marketing, it should be able to provide a detailed brief and be mindful of how the campaign will be received by the target audience.

One cringe worthy example of a bad marketing campaign was the “My Ultimate Bucket List” campaign by Malaysia Airlines (“MAS”), targeted at consumers in New Zealand and Australia, which was launched shortly after the MH370 and MH17 disasters. Not only was it off-putting and ill-timed, the marketing initiative went viral and people all over the world criticised MAS for its inappropriate campaign, tarnishing its brand and contributing further to its poor sales.

Naturally, understanding how your customers will use your product is also important. Pay attention to its form and function and ensure that it is user-friendly. One extremely useful exercise that many experienced business advisors recommend is organising focus groups, where randomly selected individuals are invited to test run the company’s product and provide their honest feedback. Thereafter, companies can then fine-tune and customise their products more effectively.

Particularly for SMEs, where profitability and long term sustainability are primary concerns, establishing a loyal customer base will be essential in maintaining demand and eventually, enlarging market share. If your company is providing services, ensure that your service staffs are well trained right from the start, to enhance customer experience. Making the extra effort to keep your customers happy can even impact how forgiving they are towards any flaws in your services or products; and with social media providing a platform for reviews and complaints; companies need to be mindful that no customer is less significant than another…(READ MORE)

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