The Challenges Facing SMEs

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Small business managers and owners often take on multiple roles. Depending on the size of the organisation, they can be accountable for budgeting and finance, inventory management, day-to-day business operations and the responsibility for staffing and human resources.

Often owner/managers set up businesses based on interests or expertise in a specific area and because of this, may lack the skills and training necessary to run a complex business.

Business planning

Although managers need to have a full working knowledge of the business’ daily operations, they also need to prioritise, delegate or even automate tasks. It’s not always quicker and more cost effective for managers to undertake tasks themselves.

Allocating daily tasks to employees will free up managers to undertake vigorous business planning. There are several business planning tools available to small businesses and many lending providers offer assistance and guidance in this area.

The first step in business planning is to establish where the business is headed. Are you planning for growth or looking to service a niche market? What areas of the business are working well and what areas can be improved?

Determining where business improvements can be made requires an understanding of the technology available to help automate labour intensive tasks. Do you download inventory software and accounting programs or invest in Software as a Service to improve operational efficiencies?

Identifying and recruiting the right staff

Rising labour costs combined with skills shortages, make it extremely difficult for SME’s to attract and retain the right staff for their business. Compounded by the fact you are often competing against larger corporations who have the financial resources to offer higher wages, training and incentives.

What SME’s can offer staff is a more flexible working environment with freedom to innovate and develop their creativity. Flatter structures of SMEs allow better employee engagement can create a positive culture where staff feel connected and valued. Investing in staff training and having the confidence in staff to get the job done will also help with succession planning.

Inventory management

The greatest challenges of inventory management are getting the balance right and for managers to appreciate just how important inventory management is to the business. Effective inventory management can be achieved through cloud technology and SaaS companies that merge inventory processes into a single integrated system. These can accurately track and record inventory movement in real time.

It is relatively easy to download inventory software but it is equally important to consider that when you download inventory software, you are not always getting the support and training offered by SaaS providers. This technical guidance improves user experience and encourages greater acceptance of the system by employees.


SME’s commonly lack access to financial resources; therefore, it can be challenging for managers to justify investment in technology. What technology will provide however, is the ability to automate mundane tasks. Daily operations can operate efficiently in the manager’s absence, still providing them with remote, real-time access to information.

Managers may choose to download inventory software or any other software tools hoping to save both time and money. With downloaded software, you can end up paying a licence fee plus the additional costs of maintenance and hardware upgrades.

The benefits of cloud computing solutions are numerous. They include the functionality to integrate with other software, scalability that adapts to business growth and ongoing customer support.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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