How to Grow Your SME and Still Be Yourself

In Quebec, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are usually confronted with one of these four challenges:

  • Geographic expansion
  • Modernizing their tools and processes
  • Integrating a competitor or an organization that enhances their market positioning
  • Managerial succession

The Ambition for Growth

These four specific challenges all have one thing in common: a desire for growth. Upon closer look, this can be perceived as losing your identity, turning your back on your roots, or even selling your soul to the devil.

So how can you grow without betraying your founding values? How can you flourish without losing control? Many entrepreneurs think that the secret to success resides in an approach that combines three key factors.

1) Delegating, or the Art of Empowering and Mobilizing Your Teams. 

The first – and not the least – challenge is to learn to delegate, to stop doing it all by yourself. That’s quite a tall order for many entrepreneurs, who can’t imagine seeing their “baby” grow up and learn how to get along without them.

The key is to formally establish strong management foundations that are shared and understood by other players in the organization, allowing you to preserve organizational cohesion and align processes and procedures.

This is the indispensable basis for a healthy and efficient delegation of responsibility. It also requires mastering the art of assembling the right people with the right skillsets, based on the company’s needs, as well as setting up governance mechanisms (management committee, science committee, board of directors, etc.) that can spread accountability and empowerment throughout the organization.

2) Focusing on Innovation as a Catalyst for Growth

You can’t have growth without innovation, especially if you’re going to survive in an increasingly competitive business environment. But innovation can’t be forced. Entrepreneurs have to find ways to establish the appropriate climate to naturally foster innovation within each team. For this to happen, managers must agree to question the way they do things, because even if their methods were successful in the past, they may not be appropriate in the future.

In other words, entrepreneurs must learn to put their egos – and their old practices – aside, and embrace humility and risk-taking. Above all, they have to listen to their clients, understand their concerns, and learn how to read their expectations. They must also make sure to give their teams the keys to innovation, by involving them in the thought process that leads to the company’s strategic evolution.

Developing a corporate culture of innovation and risk-taking can be encouraged through concrete actions like setting up an innovation committee, reinvesting revenues in R&D, or having employees participate in the development of annual innovation game plans or business-plan reviews. These types of initiatives can encourage teams to think differently and to reinvent internal processes in order to better serve their clients. In the end, it all leads to innovation.

3) Cementing the Organization Through Management Identity, Style and Philosophy

Another factor that allows SMEs to grow without altering their foundations is to be conscious of always preserving your core identity and values. That’s easier said than done, especially if you’re trying to break into the U.S. market, merging with another organization or passing the baton to a new manager.

Still, you shouldn’t compromise the organizational culture and business model that led to your success in the first place. The organization’s unique and singular character must be protected to maintain its differentiated market positioning among clients. That’s why it’s important to stay the course by constantly looking back to the company’s initial vision and mission – the ones you have shared with employees and clients, and that are reflected in your products and services.

All in all, there’s no doubt that reinventing yourself while ensuring continuity represents quite a challenge for Quebec entrepreneurs. In this context, Brio’s strategic transformation consultants can offer guidance by bringing a fresh, outside perspective to business processes and management principles. They can accompany SME managers on their journey to achieve growth targets based on three key principles: delegationinnovation and management philosophy.



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