SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) have potential for long-term growth and according to Uganda Investment Authority, it holds 90% of the private sector. SMEs are seen as a vehicle through which rural poor people can beat poverty and create employment to the youths.
Uganda Investment Authority categories SMEs into three; a ‘Micro Enterprise’ is an enterprise employing up to four people, with an annual sales/revenue turnover or total assets not exceeding Uganda shillings 10 million. On the other hand Small Enterprises employ between 5 and 49 and have total assets between UGX: 10 million but not exceeding 100 million. The Medium Enterprise therefore, employs between 50 and 100 people with total assets more than 100 million but not exceeding 360 million.
Here are some strategies SMEs can use to compete with bigger firms on the market.
Christopher Asiimwe, a financial adviser notes that people need to know your business through advertising. He however notes that the state your business is in determines the form of advertising you will use. Don’t put in so much money to advertise when you are just starting or in case the business is in a financial crisis.
“Advertising is large, you can use word of mouth, use social media like Facebook, twitter or WhatsApp, radio,TV or newspapers, open a website or blog where you can keep posting your products among others,” he says.
It would be useless advertising to people who won’t buy, a company should market to the right consumer and put it out using the right content and means. For example if it’s children’s products, use cartoons or children and not old men.
Asiimwe adds that if you remain professional, doing all your businesses ethically like paying taxes, workers and treating your clients well, your business will thrive. Having good customer care is the greatest tool, a person will go to a small company that treats her with respect and forgo a big one that doesn’t.
In Uganda today, innovations are what every business needs to grow and compete on the national market. Joseph Mugenyi, an IT expert notes that looking at some of the innovations in business for example the e-commerce and how they are helping entrepreneurs to ease their business operations, shows that entrepreneurs should play a big role in getting possible means to grow and enhance their business.
“Business without innovation too can never survive. Entrepreneurs should have their heads spinning on the next unique move to add for better productivity. Competition is stiff in the business world today and anyone lagging in their comfort zone could remain dormant hence falling,” he says.
Peterson Bogere, a procurement officer notes that trust, discipline and a good name are the basic principles towards staying relevant at all times hence keeping up with the big companies.
“A truthful company will always survive at least on a small budget but will never fail, once people trust you, they will always love and support you at all costs despite the big companies. One should aim at building reputation before anything else, respect your customers and be loyal to them,” he says.
Be open to feedback
Bogere adds that being open to feedback from people can uphold your business and keep you going in a competitive market. He says giving an ear to your customers will give you an opportunity to change, add or maintain your services hence being better.
Mugenyi explains that technology can add value to the organizational activities hence add values. Technology makes all sorts of work easy and fast, embracing it could increase on output and save time. This will mean making a lot of money in the shortest time possible. It’s therefore important that all SMEs embrace technology to increase efficiency, grow and enhance productivity.
We are in changing world where by things that were relevant 10 years back, are less important now, Asiimwe notes that for every SME to remain relevant in the growing economy, they have to do ample research in the things they do and find ways to improve their business and services.
In most cases people are attracted by how the product looks, giving your product a great packaging would turn out a great marketing strategy hence invite customers. You can use attractive colours and great images to help you attract customers.
Know your competitors
Asiimwe adds that before any action, you need to study your competitors and package your product different from theirs. This should be in terms of content, packaging or display for it to have an independent identity. Don’t copy what’s on market because people will always go for what came first.