SMB’s; Three Keys to Competing with Enterprises

4/26/2016 in HR Service Delivery

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), defined as companies with 50-999 employees in an ADP survey ,  are a thriving important part of the US economy.  These midsized businesses provide about 26.5%  of all US jobs and added more jobs in January 2016 than any other business size.  SMB’s such as Etsy, Hubspot and 4imprint frequent the best places to work list and successfully compete against large enterprises.

A well-executed go to market strategy and a laser focus on the customer are obviously requirements for any company.  However, successful midsized businesses seem to consistently do well in three areas that larger organizations are taking notice of and trying to emulate.

Hire the Right People

Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Hiring, developing and retaining talent is important in every organization.  In a midsized business every position counts and it’s not only critical to select the right people, but also create an environment where employees can grow and succeed.  It’s important to hire good communicators who have a collaborative approach to work and then empower them to make good business decisions.  An environment where there is teamwork and knowledge sharing between departments encourages creative thinking, increases employee engagement and allows for more efficient problem solving. Transparency and openness in communication are important qualities found in successful midsized business, that are frequently tough to achieve in larger organizations. When a medium sized business has the right people and work atmosphere they can compete with enterprises in attracting top talent.    


New technologies and business models will continue to cause digital disruption .  SMB’s must be nimble enough to adjust to these disruptive changes. Business agility can only be achieved if you have the right people and the right technology.  The cloud has enabled medium-sized businesses to be more agile and compete with larger organizations.  Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) gives midsized business owners quick access to the same latest virtual server technology, high performance storage and development tools used by enterprises.  Software as a service (SaaS) has really leveled the playing field between small, medium and large companies.  Enterprise-grade applications are now available and affordable for all businesses. Both IaaS and SaaS allow companies to quickly deploy technology to respond to, or take advantage of new business models.   

Process Automation

A workplace survey by Samanage found that workers spend an average of 520 hours a year on repetitive tasks that could easily be automated. That’s more than one full day’s work each week! Mundane, inefficient processes distract people from more important tasks and since midsized businesses must get the most out of each employee it’s important to automate processes wherever possible.  Paper-based processes and inefficient document handling is an example of an area that if not automated will continue to negatively impact an organization.  Findings from a study conducted by Adobe indicate 83% of business professionals believe their ability to be productive is hampered by outdated ways of working with documents.  Allowing paperwork and inefficient document processes to reduce productivity is bad enough, but it might also be driving your talent away.  The same Adobe study shows 69% of US professionals would change jobs even if the only benefit was less paperwork, 34% felt these inefficient processes hinder their career advancement.

There are certainly other areas that are important to SMB’s, but having the right people, being able to quickly adapt to customer demands and not wasting time on inefficient processes are the foundation of any successful business.

What do you think?

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