It’s exciting to realise that the face of business — especially small business — is rapidly changing to reflect the evolving social, economic and global context that we live in. Rather than be afraid of the change, SME’s can embrace the opportunities that come with evolution.
Small businesses are no longer just the corner stores and restaurants. Small businesses have evolved to become professional services (accountants, lawyers, financial advisors), educators, real estate agents, medical providers, and specialists in high growth areas like tourism, building and construction and urban development.
There are many reasons for this increase in diverse small business modes, but one major reason is the boom of entrepreneurs and rapid speed to market growth. There are many more people who are taking the risk to venture out to market with their own ideas, experience and expertise.
In the last six years alone, the amount of businesses with one to four employees has grown 18 per cent. As a result of this growth in small businesses, in the past year there has been an average of around 1000 new micro businesses starting per month!
Many of these micro businesses are challenging the ‘tower of power’ mentality, as they are not city centered businesses, which has created a new trend in the market of ‘Suburban Entrepreneurialism’. This Suburban Entrepreneurialism has boomed in places like Chullora, Leppington, Auburn & North Strathfield in NSW.
With all this growth in the SME work space, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to stay on top of the rapidly growing and changing market:
- 2020 is not the Future of Work
Believe it or not, but the year 2020 is less than 1000 days away!
According to Author, Bernard Salt, the Australia of the 2020s will be older, more Asian, more Indian, more connected (via airports and internet) and more mobile (physically) than ever before. Instead of looking towards 2020, we need to be setting goals for 2030-2035 in order to drive our businesses into a higher performing and successful path.
We’re living through a great demographic shift where 50 percent of the world’s population are now under 30.
By 2025, 75 per cent of the workforce will be millennials. Instead of fearing the unknown of the ‘temperamental millennial’, we need to be providing them strong leadership and mentoring in order to integrate them successfully into the workforce. For the first time in the history of the world, we have five generations in the workforce! We need to be using this pool of diverse people to our advantage!
- The Grey Nomads – PT Nomad / PT Consultant
Eighty years ago, life expectancy in Australia was about 63 years. Since you didn’t qualify for the age pension until 65, “you’d probably be dead two years before you got a pension in 1936,” says Salt.
These days, the average life expectancy sits at 82, offering up a minimum of 17 years in retirement. As a result, your potential working life is extended.
“You’re unlikely to sit at home and babysit the grandkids – but rather continue to work beyond 65 because you haven’t saved enough to live in retirement in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed.”
Baby boomers are commonly focused on travel experience, and work is a means to fund that. So far from exiting the job market, baby boomers are transitioning to retirement and seeking flexible work options that allow them to work and play. This has led to an explosion of highly experienced professionals offering their expertise on a consulting basis.
Digital disruption has liberated people to take greater control of where they live and how they work, allowing the baby boomers to operate from Boonie Doon back to the Boardroom
Agility equates to flexibility, and flexible work is a growing trend for not only big business, but SME’s wanting to grow in the current context. However, many SME’s we work with mistakenly think flexible work policies and practices are for big business alone.
Flexibility is not the exclusive domain of big business. Sure, there are some high-profile initiatives like Telstra’s ‘all roles flex’, on-site child care centers and generous paid parental leave. However, small businesses are able to be in the flex space too, maybe not at the same capacity as a big business, but in order to attract and retain great talent, there has to be room to consider alternative and flexible options for employees.
What’s great about flexibility and agility is that they are as adaptive and unconventional as the concepts themselves. There is no one size fits all. Flexible work used to equate to PT roles for working mothers (and in some slow to transform industries it sadly still does).
Flexibility now is about all types of people – all ages, genders and all walks of life. What you see here is an unprecedented opportunity for SME’s to capitalise on the big business experience of professionals at a SME price. The hard working, stressed out former executives of top tier firms are trading off their six-figure salaries for modest consulting earnings, but are getting their life back.
- It’s a Buyer’s market — except in hard to fill roles!
Many SME’s believe (or past experience has been) that engaging people is an expensive risky process and if you get it wrong it’s hard to get out of it and even more expensive.
Certainly, there are regulations you need to be aware of when hiring contractors, consultants and employees, but most of the time when I’ve seen it not work, it has been due to a lack of planning and understanding about the capability needs of the business. In fact the process is usually a reactive lurch to market when the tired and stressed out business owners simply can’t wait anymore and make a rash decision to hire the first person that looks half decent.
The SME space will continue to change and grow rapidly as technology advances. The only way to capitalise and to succeed in this growing market is to adapt. This includes changing the way we previously operated and to begin thinking outside the conventional business mode, embracing the changes our employees are looking to and embracing the ever-growing options that are becoming available to us through technology in order to drive business performance and success.
If you want your business to be a success in this growth spurt of technology and market, and need a helping hand, feel free to contact us— firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salt, Bernard. Australia a nation of small business. 13 April 2017. The Australian
Salt, Bernard. Bernard Salt looks at ‘the next five years’. 31 January 2017. Sky News