A staggering 54,992 Aussie businesses closed their doors in the previous financial year, a 12.7 per cent increase in failure rate compared to the year before. And the future doesn’t look good either, with RFi Group finding that one in three business owners expect to close down in the next twelve months. So, how can your business survive and thrive in these tough ecomomic conditions?
Sadly, there is no silver bullet to help businesses navigate tough conditions, however, it is fair to say that business owners need every competitive edge to sustain business growth. By retaining a tight focus on key priorities and growth areas for the coming year, entrepreneurs will be able to grow their business and stand out from the competition.
Make the right tech investment
Every job, company and industry will increasingly feel the impact of technology. Last year, the Fast 500 companies in the software and hardware tech sectors in Asia Pacific showed a startling 98 per cent average growth rate – proof that technology is rapidly transforming the way we do business today.
With this growing hype around new technology, the prospect of choice and variety can be both overwhelming and exciting for a business. However, before signing on the dotted line, it is crucial that you as a business leader focus on your goals and take stock of what you already have.
First, assess what is and isn’t working and alignit with your business priorities. Sometimes, a simple upgrade may be in order. Many cloud-based customer relationship management platforms are pre-built with automatic updates that scale according to your business growth, allowing you to add new functions or modules as and when you need them. This tends to be simpler and more cost-effective than introducing completely new systems and services to your employees and overall operation.
For others, a complete overhaul may be needed. That applies particularly to businesses that have outgrown their original on-premise apps, and might be looking at a more unified set of tools that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Whatever the situation, it’s important to invest in systems that can support sustainable long-term growth. Be mindful also of changing trends within your industry and with consumer behaviours. For example, if you are investing in wireless technology or Internet of Things devices, it may make sense for you to outlay a little extra and ensure the investment is compatible with 5G standards, the soon to be de-facto standard.
Become an industry expert
Find a new angle for your business by increasing visibility for yourself – and your brand –by getting involved in a variety of industry activities like trade shows, conferences, and panel workshops. Not only do these enable you to network with influencers, but they offer a forum to share ideas, gain expertise and help to position you as an industry or thought leader.
Why not take the extra step and host your own event or meetup? Start small and think about how you can use these opportunities to strengthen your relationships, explore collaborative marketing opportunities and grow your customer base. The benefits of partnering with others is invaluable – be it with peers from your industry, leaders in other industries, research institutions or universities – as collaboration can be valuable in exposing you to new ideas and initiatives.
Partnering with others can also stimulate creative problem solving, leading to more innovation. As startups and growing businesses account for over 97 per cent of all businesses across APAC economies, there are plenty of grants, awards, and accelerator programs available to help with access to research and development (R&D) and greater market intelligence.
Put people first
According to a Gallup report, 71 per cent of employees in ANZ are not engaged, with a ‘lack of respect’ and ‘little opportunity for collaboration’ cited as some of the top reasons’ employees are not enjoying work,. Further, one in five Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year.
The good news, however, is that ANZ businesses are increasingly starting to engage and drive change in the mental health space and employee development, as many leaders now understand the importance of employee wellbeing.
Creating a mentally healthy workplace makes good business sense. If you implement a robust health strategy comprising flexi-hours, work-from-home policies, continual learning and development or rest and recreation, you should reap benefits from higher staff engagement and productivity. The long-term gains are proving to be rewarding with respect to attracting and retaining talent, with a positive impact on the financial bottom line.
As the business landscape continues to evolve and competition becomes fiercer, business owners must look for every edge they can use to grow. With technology at the heart of most operations, business owners need to ensure their software is working for them, providing real-time insights and streamlining management capabilities. Networking and positioning yourself as an industry expert can open up a myriad of opportunities for new business and partnerships, while investing in people is a sure-fire way to support business growth and make work an enjoyable space for all.