Do you know what makes some SMEs thrive while others struggle or fail? It’s not just luck or talent. It’s also about how they plan, manage and adapt to their challenges. In this blog post, we’ll reveal 8 factors that can make or break your SME and how you can use data insights to overcome them. 

Poor strategic management 

A good business plan is like a roadmap for your SME. It shows you where you want to go and how to get there. It helps you define your vision, mission, goals, objectives, strategies and actions. It also helps you analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Without a good business plan, you’ll be lost in the wilderness of uncertainty and confusion. You won’t have a clear focus, direction or clarity for your SME. 

Neglecting market analysis 

Competition is fierce in today’s globalised world. Not only are you competing with local entities, but also international rivals who may have more resources, experience and market share than you. If you ignore your competitors, you’ll be left behind in the dust. You’ll lose customers, market share and profits. You need to keep an eye on your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, strategies and offerings. You also need to stand out from the crowd by providing unique value propositions to your customers. 

Insufficient technology 

Technology is a game-changer for any SME. It can help you improve your productivity, efficiency, quality, communication and customer service. It can also help you access new markets, reduce costs and increase revenues. Without technology, you’ll be stuck in the past and miss out on the opportunities that the digital age offers. You need to invest in appropriate IT solutions that suit your needs and budget. 

Lack of financial planning 

Money makes the world go round, especially for SMEs. Financial management is crucial for any SME. It involves planning, organising, controlling and monitoring your financial resources. It also involves making sound financial decisions based on accurate data and analysis. Without financial planning, you’ll face cash flow problems, insolvency, debt and bankruptcy. You need to plan your finances carefully and monitor your cash flow regularly. You also need to seek professional advice and assistance when needed. 

Excessive centralisation 

Many SMEs are run by a single person who makes all the decisions and controls all the operations. This can create a bottleneck in your business process and limit your growth potential. It can also create a dependency on one person who may not have all the skills and knowledge required for running a successful SME. You need to delegate tasks and responsibilities to other qualified and competent people who can share the workload and bring new ideas and perspectives to your SME. 

Desire for instant gratification 

Running an SME requires patience, perseverance and long-term vision. Running an SME is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time and effort to establish yourself in the market and generate sustainable revenues. If you expect to see quick results and high profits from your SME, you’ll be disappointed and frustrated. You need to set realistic goals and expectations for your SME performance. You also need to reinvest your profits back into your SME to improve your products, services, processes and systems. 

Insufficient succession planning 

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing potential future leaders and managers of your SME. It ensures that there is continuity in your SME operations and strategy in case of any unforeseen events such as retirement, resignation or death of key personnel. Without succession planning, you’ll create uncertainty, instability and risk for your SME. You need to plan ahead and identify potential successors for your key roles. You also need to train and mentor your successors to prepare them for taking over your SME. 

Lack of clarity 

Goals and objectives are essential for any SME. They provide direction, motivation and measurement for your SME performance. They also help align the efforts and resources of your SME towards a common vision. Without clear goals and objectives, you’ll be confused, inefficient and wasteful of time and money. You won’t know what you want to achieve or how to measure it. You need to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals and objectives for your SME. You also need to communicate them clearly to your stakeholders and monitor their progress regularly. 

These are some of the factors that can make or break your SME. However, failure is not inevitable or irreversible. SMEs can learn from their mistakes and overcome their challenges with proper planning, management and support. One of the ways that SMEs can prevent or recover from failure is by using forecasting software. 

Introducing Data Insights for Forecasting 

You’ve just learned about some of the factors that can cause SMEs to fail, such as lack of planning, insufficient funds, ineffective marketing, and poor cash flow management. But don’t worry, businesses today have intelligent solutions at their fingertips nowadays. Using data insights can help SMEs predict future outcomes based on historical data and current trends. It can help SMEs with various aspects of their business such as: 

Sales forecasting 

Data Insights can help SMEs estimate their future sales volume, revenue and profit based on past sales performance, market demand, customer behaviour and other factors. This can help SMEs plan their production, inventory, pricing and marketing strategies accordingly. It can also help you identify potential sales opportunities and risks and take appropriate actions to maximise or minimise them. 

Budget forecasting 

Data insights can also help you estimate your future income and expenses based on your historical data and current plans. This can help you create realistic and achievable budgets that align with your goals and objectives. It can also help you track your actual performance against your budgeted performance and identify any variances or deviations that need to be addressed. 

Cash flow forecasting 

You can project your future cash inflows and outflows based on your expected sales, costs, payments and receipts. This can help you manage your cash flow effectively and avoid cash shortages or surpluses that can affect your business operations. It can also help you plan for contingencies and emergencies that may require additional cash resources. 

Revenue forecasting 

Finally, using business data for forecasting can help you predict your future revenue streams based on your past revenue performance, market trends, customer behaviour and other factors. This can help you optimise your pricing, product mix, distribution channels and customer segments to maximise your revenue potential. It can also help you evaluate the profitability of different products, services, customers or markets. 

Overcoming hurdles with Pulse 

There is a data insights solution that can help you overcome these challenges and grow your business successfully, and it comes in the form of Pulse. Pulse is a free data-insights tool that uses AI and machine learning to help you forecast your cash flow analysis and plan ahead. With Pulse, you can connect your banking and accounting software to get a real-time view of your cash position. This opens up a world of possibilities, such as the ability to… 

  • Access a bespoke AI dashboard where you can spot trends, flag issues and create management accounts 
  • Connect to all the leading platforms in seconds, so you can access your data and insights with ease 
  • Discover areas where you can add value to your services, driving engagement and boosting client retention 
  • Save time and money by automating menial tasks, so you can focus more on the stuff that matters, like growing your business. 

Pulse is easy to use and secure. You don’t need any technical skills or accounting knowledge to get started. Just sign up with your email address and link your business accounts in minutes. 

Don’t let poor cash flow management ruin your business dreams, start using Pulse today and take control of your finances.