The world of B2B social media is ever changing and evolving. In an effort to better
engage on Twitter with our Small Medium Enterprise (SME) customers, partners, experts and influencers, we split the handle @SAP4SME into two separate accounts. @SAP4SmallBiz provides the latest technology and trends for fast-growing small businesses of less than 100 employees.
@SAP4Midsize covers hot topics specific to customers, experts, influencers and partners in the midsize market of 100+ employees.In May, @SAP4SmallBiz launched a monthly tweet chat series titled #SAPNextGenBiz. The format is a Q&A session co-hosted with Brian Moran, a small business expert and influencer, along with a special guest. The inaugural #SAPNextGenBiz tweet chat featured Rhonda Abrams, noted author, influencer, and columnist for USA Today. Below is transcript of our insightful conversation with Rhonda.
SAP4SmallBiz: What’s the state of business in 2014 for growing, entrepreneurial companies?
Rhonda Abrams: The state of business for entrepreneurs looks good! 2014 is filled with many opportunities for companies to grow their businesses. Big companies are spending, banks are starting to lend again & collaborative technology is making businesses more efficient. For companies with a strong plan of action, 2014-15 is all about executing the plan.
SAP4SmallBiz: Are there any obstacles in the path to growth and success for these companies?
Rhonda Abrams: Of course! There are always obstacles. Businesses need to watch certain economic indicators for signs of a downturn. If your business operates globally, you have to keep an eye on volatility in those markets as well. Businesses should regularly review their plans and create “what if” scenarios so they know what to do if things change.
SAP4SmallBiz: What are some of the different ways to grow a small business into an entrepreneurial company?
Rhonda Abrams: One way is to enter a new market through a physical location. Another way is to grow virtually through online efforts. You can also hire more salespeople, partner with other companies and introduce new products and services. Before you chart your course, make sure you’ve done your homework. Are new customers in these channels? For as many ways as there are to grow a company, it’s just as easy to hurt your business by making bad decisions.
SAP4SmallBiz: How can social media help businesses achieve their growth goals?
Rhonda Abrams: Social media has been a real blessing for forward-thinking, entrepreneurial companies in sales, research and branding efforts. Companies can engage with their existing customers via social media. They can also connect with potential customers. Millions of customers use social media to talk about products & services. A growing business needs to be in those chats.
SAP4SmallBiz: You also mentioned research and branding as benefits of using social media, can you explain?
Rhonda Abrams: A company can follow media and influencers in their specific industry to keep on top of the latest trends and news. Social media is also used for competitive analysis. You can see what your competitors are doing online. Social media is great for building brand awareness. It lets a company connect with the right people so they can learn more about your business.
SAP4SmallBiz: Let’s switch gears slightly and talk technology. How is tech playing a role in the growth of entrepreneurial companies?
Rhonda Abrams: Collaborative technology allows companies to work in real time no matter where they are—it’s very efficient! Cloud-based solutions let companies’ access information from anywhere and the data is safe in the event of a disaster. ERP software is making back-office and inventory management more efficient and effective. With the right integrated solutions, a growing company can leverage tools to better compete with larger companies.
SAP4SmallBiz: We’ve talked about the market, social media, and tech…what about human capital…how can employees help with growth?
Rhonda Abrams: Employees play a vital role. As a business grows, it will need more leaders within the company. Does the business have leadership tracks or do employees feel there is no room for growth? The CEO must be willing to delegate responsibility to grow his/her business and keep their best employees happy. Corporate culture can make or break a business. Most successful companies have happy, motivated employees
SAP4SmallBiz: What about financing a growing company—what are the options?
Rhonda Abrams: There are the traditional avenues—banks will lend money to businesses that are profitable with strong credit scores. There is equity financing if a business is interested in bringing in outside partners who can help them get to the next level. There is customer financing. Ariba has a product called Dynamic Discounting designed for early invoice payments. The benefit to the customer is a discounted rate. For the entrepreneur, it means less strain on cash flow. It could also mean access to capital to grow his/her business.
SAP4SmallBiz: Any last thoughts for our participants and followers?
Rhonda Abrams: If you want to take advantage of market opportunities in 2014-15, do your homework! Look at social media, technology, financing and employees to see how you can leverage your assets to grow your business. Lastly, regularly check indicators for signs of a downturn.
Hear from Rhonda Abrams and other small and midsize business leaders at the Grow Your Next Generation Business Forum at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando June 3-5, 2014. Register now!