Getting The Basics Right

Business owners looking to get schooled in the ways of entrepreneurship can start off with SME Academy's classes.

sme-academy

As the business landscape becomes more complex, SMEs looking to thrive need to understand the fundamental aspects of running a business - from improving productivity and effectively managing cash flow to harnessing technology to drive growth.

The SME Academy has launched a series of classes that help business owners master these key skillsets. The first batch of classes - which cover four foundation topics and one on digital marketing - were conducted from 5th July 2017 to 11 July 2017.

The classes were well received by the attendees, who appreciated the practical nature of the learning.

Said Wee Pin Lee, the owner of Dental Cafe: "My staff and I benefited a lot from the programme. I attended the Productivity and HR classes, while my staff attended the marketing lesson. We have already put what we have learnt in the classes to good use."

Here is an overview of the curriculum and how individual attendees benefitted from the classes.

Cut out the waste

In the segment on improving productivity, participants were taught to understand the concept of value and waste. In particular, they were given techniques to identify and eliminate processes that did not add value to a business, as well as implement systems that would boost productivity.

One way to do this is to map an organisation's processes and classify each step as either real value (one that meets customer demands), no value add (actions that could be stopped without affecting the customer) and business value add (actions that need to be done based on how the organisation's system works but do not add value).

People power

Participants were also given an overview of a framework that enables SMEs to develop their talent. This involves managing key human resource areas in a systematic manner. These five areas are: Recruitment and Selection; Compensation and Benefits; Learning and Development; Performance Management and; Talent Management.

Balancing the books

The importance of effectively managing finances was another key area of focus. Ensuring sufficient cash flow is especially important in ensuring the survival on an SME.

For smaller businesses, some good practices shared include giving credit terms to customers that do not exceed what suppliers give; doing regular cash forecasts especially when there are seasonal peaks; and carefully monitoring the liquidity ratio to know how much cash is available at any point in time.

In the area of tax and accounting, participants were taught the important financial reporting standards that SMEs need to be aware of. They were also given insights into what to look out for in a balance sheet and profit and loss statement.

SMEs have been turning to low-cost automated solutions to help them manage their accounting and finance functions. For instance, Cafebond.com, a start-up that supplies premium coffee beans online, started using an accounting solution called Xero a few months ago.

The accounting system allowed the firm to automate many finance functions, from issuing invoices to sending reminders for payments. This freed up the founders to focus on the more important task of growing their burgeoning business.

Marketing in the digital age

Beyond the foundation curriculum, attendees were also able to attend classes in the Marketing and Digital Curriculum. This gave a rundown on developing an overall marketing strategy, incorporating the increasingly important digital element.

Solution providers such as The Meatmen, for instance, are helping local F&B operators reach a wider audience on Facebook by producing high-quality video recipes of local dishes. Reflecting the success of this digital marketing channel, they have so far cranked out 270 videos for their clients and garnered close to 500,000 Facebook followers.

SME ACADEMY CLASSES

SME Academy classes will be run on a quarterly basis in collaboration with Spring SME Centre. Please note the following:

  • There are limited seats per class
  • More foundational courses to be added in subsequent runs
  • You can pre-book classes here

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