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Big Business vs Small Business

Thursday, July 05, 2018


Big Business vs Small Business. It is the modern day David vs Goliath story. Big business seem to have the overwhelming advantages – a seemingly endless supply of funds for innovation and R&D, the buying power that comes from having national or international franchises, and of course, a faceless organisation that can reduce individual accountability during the endless pursuit of extra profits. A local burger hut will never have the buying power of McDonalds, a small time software developer is unlikely to have access to $100million a year to invest in research and development like MYOB. So what are some of the things that Big Business do well that Small Business can emulate. In my opinion, two things Big Business do, that are overlooked by a lot of small and medium enterprises, are planning and the implementation of systems.

Failing to plan is planning to fail – Benjamin Franklin

When you build a house, do you just lay a slab of concrete, pick up some bricks and start building walls? No, you have a house plan done. Sure, there may be some variations along the way, but the plan is what the builder uses to make sure the house is built correctly and how you want it. So you wouldn’t build your house without a plan, why would you try to build a business without a plan? Wait a minute, you might say, the bank got me to complete a business plan before they gave me my finance. Slapping together a business plan to satisfy the requirements of a finance deal is one thing, creating a plan for your business that both drives you and steers your actions in the correct direction is another. The important thing to remember when preparing the plan for your business; nothing is set in stone. Market changes, technological advances and legislation changes may present other opportunities in the future, your plan doesn’t prohibit you from pursuing these opportunities, it should prepare you to take advantage of them.

As an accountant, I love systems. Sadly, that love is not shared by a lot of small business owners. As of writing this, it is the end of March, some business owners are still scrambling to get their data files up to date for the year ended 30 June the year before. By the time that information is all reconciled and financial statements prepared, those reports are already 11 months old. That data is useless for making business decisions. Now this is far from being the norm, but it is far too common. Let’s look at the other extreme. Some multinational companies, with depots/departments all around the world are able to close their financial month end within 6 days. That is a company with 10’s of thousands of employees, with multiple departments being able to have complete, up to date information within a week. Many years ago, I worked as a manager in a now publicly listed, national pizza chain (no it wasn’t in the quality assurance department). By Tuesday morning every week, everyone in corporate management knew the operating results of every store in Australia for the previous week – how? Great systems. Accurate, up to date information is vital to making informed decisions every day in our businesses.

So I encourage every business owner to think about their plans for their business – and take it one step further and write it down; plan for success. Implement systems to achieve the goals from your plan. Make informed business decisions by having accurate and up to date information.

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