Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) make a vital contribution to the British economy. According to the FedEx Great British Export Report 2015, their exporting activity has significantly reduced the UK’s trade deficit in just the past year. With this in mind, it is of paramount importance SMEs make the most of financial reserves to help drive growth at home and abroad. Financial investment, whether large or small, can take even the most successful business to the next level, when spent appropriately.

We have identified six key business activities which, should they receive targeted investment, could help your enterprise to grow:

  1. Exploration of international markets: The UK makes up just 0.88% of the global population, so there is literally a world of further opportunity out there. Your business’ activity could receive a substantial boost with the international marketing of your products and exports to a global customer base. When considering expansion, factor in the costs of the initial research – trips to prospective markets to research competitors and your target customers and establishing trading networks, for instance. It’s a worthwhile investment which could take your business to the next stage.
  1. Public relations (PR): The inclusion of your brand in an editorial article can be 100 times more valuable and almost 90% more effective than advertising alone. With this method of brand awareness, the reader/ consumer is far more likely to take note than if they were to spot your name on a flyer or promotional feature. A strong PR campaign can help to raise your brand’s awareness while increasing your business’ credibility, through verification by trusted third parties.
  1. Hiring the right “intrapreneurial” employees: If you were to hire more “intrapreneurial” employees – individuals who possess an entrepreneurial mind-set but work within a business – you could boost company productivity and growth. These individuals are invaluable for the future of your brand, whether providing new ideas or solutions, taking risks to solve a problem, or experimenting in order to drive the business forward. They could be the secret to your business’ success by driving growth at a quicker rate.
  1. Create a consumer-friendly website: It’s been reported 15% of UK shoppers use a mobile device to conduct their shopping, with e-commerce sales increasing year on year and 81% of consumers researching products online before making a purchase. Therefore, it is key that you invest in a business website that is up to scratch. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly in order to improve your customer’s experience, increase sales and propel your business forward. In addition, invest in increasing the visibility of your website on search engines. This could be achieved by commissioning strong editorial content or hiring a search engine optimisation A significant online presence increases your credibility and helps to enhance your business’ profile, adding to its potential future profitability and growth. It was also found that nearly 80% of consumers would be more inclined to buy from a brand as a result of its presence on social media, so it is worth spending a little time establishing relevant accounts, to potentially attract more customers.
  1. Upskill your workforce: As your business expands, it’s important to make sure your employees have the skills and knowledge to support your business’ growth. Investing in additional training can help a business flourish by enabling it to expand into new areas, streamlining procedures, or reinforcing team camaraderie. Training is also a good means to retain staff as well as keep your employees motivated, lifting morale. It’s not just your employees you should consider upskilling, but also yourself. As a business owner, you may find you have to work across a host of areas so going on a course or training programme can help you gain a thorough understanding of everything you may have to be involved with.
  1. Develop a unique culture: As businesses increasingly move online, consumers can feel that the retail experience is lacking the human touch. Therefore, it is worth contemplating how to invest in stakeholder relationships. This is not merely contact with your customers and employees, but also distributors, suppliers and all those invested in some shape or form your business. Taking your colleagues out on a trip, acknowledging birthdays or organising customer events, for example, can underscore that you appreciate those who underpin your company’s success.
In order to propel growth, it is vital to conduct a thorough evaluation of the different areas within your business. By putting in place even the smallest changes in key areas, you can affect your business’ long-term profitability and success and remain competitive in an ever-expanding marketplace. Thorough assessment and planning can mean that any additional funds received, regardless of size, could go a long way in giving your enterprise a boost to the next level.

By David Poole, Managing Director Sales, UK South at FedEx Express