• NMG Staff

[Tribune] Faced with the crisis, SMEs will draw their strength from their employees


This article was originally published by Patrice Arzillier.


In order to rely above all on their human capital, business leaders can focus on 3 areas: adjusting their management system, questioning themselves as leaders and staying open to external growth opportunities to attract new talent.


Covid-19 upsets everything. Only one certainty : we have entered an era of perpetual and accelerated change. Periods of long stability are becoming the hallmark of previous centuries. But as unprecedented as it may be, this crisis will - like any crisis - create tremendous opportunities.


This is why business leaders must remain mobilized and quickly embark on the transformation to build the world of tomorrow.


To achieve this, it is vital that they rely on the real strength of their SME: their teams! A company's main asset, which is also a major differentiating factor, has always been and will continue to be its people. With equivalent ambitions and business plans, a SME can succeed when another one fails: the result greatly depends on the talents brought together and their ability to roll out, execute and adjust if necessary the plan to achieve the objectives set.


One may want to acquire multiple assets (innovation, finance, production equipment, business model...); what in the end makes the difference is the people involved in implementing the company's strategy.


It is through people that we think, plan and execute.

It is through human capital that we prepare the future. Everything therefore depends on the ability of the business leader to gather, unite and motivate the right team around him for his project, the one that will help him reinvent the company and that will know how to execute the plan he has developed.


Once that said, in the face of the crisis, what more can be done?


Consolidate its management system

First track: think about your management team, make it evolve to integrate new profiles and skills that are essential to steer the transformation of the company. All the more so as there are many high skilled people available on the market (or who will be in the coming months). We must take advantage of this period to capture the talent that is missing.


For example, the business leader may decide to set up a management committee worthy of the name. The executive committee is the first stage in the rocket of the management system of a SME. It is the one that drives the entire organization and sets the schedule. Its decisions trigger the actions of all departments and employees. The positions he adopts set the course to be followed to reach the set course.


Face the facts, stop looking for someone to blame for the difficulties and move forward.

Second track: adopt the manager's "360-degree" training approach. The question is not who is responsible for this or that difficulty, but who is going to act to overcome it. For this, the manager must stop looking out the window at what others are doing, he must look himself in the mirror and take on his role as a full-time manager and team captain.


For example, he can question the 3-year plan he has developed, adjust it, define the implementation plan and ensure that the people he has surrounded himself with have the right profiles to implement it effectively within the time frame.


Listening to and capturing market opportunities

Third track: the current crisis is going to cause a lot of pain, especially business failures. The wave is expected in 2021, when the URSSAF, taxes and banks will demand payment of the debts due. In some sectors, many SMEs are currently on life support and will not be able to get back on their feet once they have been disconnected.


But if we try to look at the glass half-empty, it may also be, for some of them, the opportunity of a new life in the frame of a takeover, especially for those who felt tensions even before the crisis broke out. It's hard to accept as an entrepreneur, but that's also what running a small business is all about...


The current health and economic crisis can thus be at the origin of births and rebirths. While M&A activity has been slowed since the spring, consolidation movements between companies could accelerate. Because French SMEs have some great deals to offer each other.


Besides gaining market share, consolidations enable companies to enhance and enrich their human capital with know-how and talent so that "1+1 = 3". And it will be more interesting to create these new French entities by looking at opportunities right next door than waiting to be swallowed up by Americans or Chinese.


SMEs that have successfully managed their cash flow and turned to the EMP will be able to finance these steps. Others can without hesitation apply for investment funds: they have cash and are looking for companies with solid growth potential, supported by an assertive development strategy.


They will not hesitate to finance the projects of entrepreneurs who prove a sincere commitment to growth, which they will demonstrate by identifying potential targets in advance, setting up an appropriate team and drawing up a precise and "timed" execution plan.


French SMEs are lucky to have a government that plays the game to cushion the restrictive measures taken. As an entrepreneur, we can take advantage of all the measures put in place to get ourselves up and running and succeed in the future. We will never reproach a business leader for trying to bounce back in the face of this unprecedented health and economic crisis by preparing for the future and by relying on the human factor.

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