Harnessing Your Size And Agility As An SME

Despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs can continue being successful if they channel their agility and flexibility, says Scaleup North East partner Tony Brooks.

When leading an SME through the immense uncertainty we are facing today, there is the fear you will tip and fall first, leaving only the bigger companies to remain strong, sturdy and able to stay afloat.

Over the last year, however, Scaleup North East partner Tony Brooks has helped SMEs in the region to alleviate and overcome the pandemic's disruptive impact.

As an integral part of these business' journeys, Tony firmly believes the current circumstances provide a unique opportunity for brands to make their lasting mark and take advantage of their smaller and subsequently more agile infrastructures.

"Now, more than ever, you have an opportunity to make those moves, turn those corners and ride those waves because you are agile and flexible," he says.

"Your infrastructures will enable you to manoeuvre much quicker than larger companies, so do not underestimate your power."

In times of strife for many of us, we go through an emotional rollercoaster of either wanting to give up or we are suddenly energised by a burst of inspiration.

However, it is what we do with this energy that ultimately determines our fate.

When starting his business in 2002, Tony and a friend were both tired of working for others in the world of corporate global products, and recognised and pursued a new market opportunity.

They both believed in their individual abilities and as a duo had sufficient drive, determination and self- confidence to give it a go.

In the first year, the company turned over £150,000 and 12 years on, in 2015, they sold their business with a turnover of £5.5 million, with 55 employees having endured the 2008 financial crisis.

Back in 2008, Tony and his senior leadership team were fortunate enough to be comprised of four very different personalities, skillsets and outlooks, all of which complemented one another.

With multiple perspectives, the firm was able to remind one another of their why, their how, their what and their when. Such reflection in times of difficulty is imperative to finding the passion and ability to continue your brand's mission.

For Tony and his partners, the shared aspiration to no longer work for others helped motivate the team to build something they knew the market wanted and that they knew they could execute well.

Tony says: "As a leader, looking after those who have continued to look after you is key to achieving your business goals and dreams. Keeping your people reassured and motivated is essential.

"It can be easy for your people to lose confidence, doubt their future and feel a lack of value when the wheels come off your business; it is your job to remind them of their value.

"Being committed to those relationships, and to the experts you have internally and externally, is vital.

"Look to your teams, your supply chains, your existing customers and map out a list of clients you aspire to have on your books.

"Be determined to connect with them and present them with the opportunities they are currently missing by not working with your business."