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The key to innovation for SMEs

Drawing idea is money concept

For many SMEs, the question around innovation isn’t if or when, but how. Andrew Pearce Partner at McLean Delmo Bentleys, provides tips for SMEs looking to innovate within their business. 

Most SMEs are keen to ensure their business not only stays relevant but it thrives in an ever-changing, digitally- driven environment. In fact, almost a quarter of SMEs surveyed in the recent Bentley’s The Voice of Australian Business Survey, said they will look to innovate through the introduction of new products and services next year.

The appetite is present, yet a number of business owners that I meet just don’t know where to start when it comes to the practical application of innovation. While every business is different, for SMEs looking to innovate there are some guiding principles that can be applied to most, if not all, situations:

  1. Seek inspiration from outside your traditional industry: while having deep sector or industry expertise is bound to help you build a successful business, when it comes to innovation, you should step out of your comfort zone. Look to other industries to gain a different perspective and new ideas, then consider how you can apply them to your business. At Bentleys, we have partnered up with the York Butter Factory (YBF) in Melbourne to allow our clients (and our own business) to do just that. Having access to the YBF world-class ecosystem of entrepreneurs and start-ups across a number of industries, allows us to problem solve collaboratively and to then confidently apply these solutions to our clients businesses to help them adapt and grow.
  1. Look at innovation from different perspectives: there are many forms that innovation can take within your business. It may fall under accounting / tax / finance; data-science; or entrepreneurial innovation. We realise that every business has different needs, so our role is to advise SMEs on the best way for businesses to improve using the tools at their disposal. For instance, a number of SMEs don’t realise the goldmine of data they are sitting on which can deliver insights into business improvements. However you chose to innovate, you should decide to do so based on how much value it will add and/or whether it will harness untapped potential in your business.
  1. Use technology to bolster your business so you can focus on growth in other areas: Savvy SMEs are realising technology has the potential to streamline the day-to-day role of business owners and give them back the flexibility to grow the business rather than be bogged down in the necessary administration. Our recent survey, The Voice, showed that more than a quarter (28%) of SMEs are looking to invest in new technologies to grow their businesses, compared to just 14% who were considering a move to the cloud less than 12 months ago.

Finally, surround yourself with partners and like-minded people who can provide structured advice and support. They will encourage you to be bold and consider future possibilities.

About the author: 

Andrew Pearce is a Partner at McLean Delmo Bentleys, chartered accountants and business advisory service.