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With the UK economy expected to grow by 1.6 per cent this year, according to the OECD, and expansion expected to be maintained into 2018, the future looks bright for business prospects across the country, or so says Dan Milo, at Targus.

However, with the next general election just a month away, and the possibility for more political uncertainty on the horizon, SMEs should be prioritising a sustainable, future-proofed business model to plan for growth.

Whether this means innovating beyond traditional working styles, or introducing new methods of communication, IT will no doubt be at its heart – driving organisations to think and perform differently. However, in order to build the best business possible, SMEs need to consider not only where their current skillsets lie, but also where improvements to staff education and information-sharing can be made.

Achieving this means evaluating the level of training and support that is needed company-wide, and bolstering every area of the business through open communication and strong relationships.

Teaching tech

With growth and profitability front of mind, for smaller businesses, it can often be easy to overlook things as simple as staff training. However, for customers to feel in safe hands, and for the organisation to truly thrive, ensuring employees are knowledgeable and up-to-speed is essential.

Getting direct feedback from staff on what they know, and equally what they don’t, means the type and level of training needed can easily be determined. Whether conducted internally or externally, make sure the training is informative, valuable and most importantly, tailored.

When businesses place responsibility on educating staff as to how technology actually solves business problems, engagement levels will increase. In fact, an internal training session - which was recently carried out at Targus - saw a 75 per cent in end-user engagement levels.

Venture outside of traditional

Expecting staff to know exactly what they’re doing without telling, or showing them isn’t the way business works, especially not a successful one. Providing wider context to employees around how your products and services function, and the value they bring to customers, will help them innovate beyond the traditional sales pitch.

Across every business, there will be employees with various strengths and weaknesses, and training is a valuable way of figuring those out. A training programme means you can help those with similar skills to progress in a different way to others, bringing everyone to the same high standard. Giving all staff the same one-size-fits-all training programme will results in various different levels of knowledge, and may expose some weak links.

A change in mind-set and approach will elevate the level of conversations staff are having with customers, resulting in factors such as higher sales, greater engagement and increased satisfaction.

Paint the bigger picture

When thinking about your business and your staff, don’t just consider where you want to be now, and what they need to know today. Plan longer term, focusing on not only how your business is set to evolve over time, but also how technology might. Educate teams on what the future of changing workstyles may look like, and how varying generations such as millennials entering the work place may affect them. We already know key topic areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and augmented reality are set to continue growing so don’t forget these in the thought-process.

Sharing these insights will help staff better understand the direction of the company, and the valuable part they play in reaching the overall goal. Opening up to employees and showing transparency in actions will lead to increased loyalty and higher accountability for actions.

As the business landscape and those involved continue to move forward, IT leaders will be forced to address many new business challenges. However, with the support of industry-focused training, organisations can take their company to new levels of success, building more mutually beneficial relationships with both staff and customers to ensure challenges are met, business problems are solved and stronger bonds are built.

Dan Milo is Head of SME strategy, Targus