Helping SMEs to Succeed: Business Focus, Mindset and Capability

In this series of blogs, we have argued that it is important that advice for SMEs is tailored to their exact needs, empathises with the highly emotional nature of the SME journey and focuses on three critical areas – having a clear business focus, a robust business mindset and a can do approach to building business capabilities. Below we review those aspects of the DVL Smith/Excellence Tools Online Programme - A Success Blueprint - Seven Excellence Tools for Small Businesses - that address each of these key areas.

Here, we should stress that one of the keys to the Excellence Tools Programme is that it makes maximum use of one-to-one e-coaching that allows us to tailor our advice to the exact needs of an SME around our core modules.

Business focus – knowing where to play

Our Excellence Tools Programme contains three tools that will help the SME owner get clarity around business focus and help them operate with purpose and intentionality.

The Differentiator Tool: How to start with a compelling irresistible offer
This is about helping SMEs stand out from the crowd and differentiate their offer from the competition. We show how customer feedback can be used to create a product/service that provides transformational value.

Clearly SMEs need to pick a space in the market where they will excel. So, we provide a range of techniques to understand what is happening in the marketplace and what competitors are doing and help businesses decide on the positioning where they are most likely to win.

The Message Tool:How to showcase your brand
The brand is at the heart of what a business is all about. It is important for a small business to showcase its strengths and win with a compelling brand message. Specifically, we show how feedback from customers can be used to give a brand message the wow factor.

In sum, by applying these three Tools, the business owner would be crystal clear on the business goal. They will be focused on what is important and not get distracted by working on less important aspects of the business. There will be a clear differentiated offer, clear positioning and a clear message. These will be the North Star that will give the business the focus it needs.

Business Mindset - knowing how to win

This is about cultivating a growth mindset – one that is constantly positive, confident and able to seize opportunities rather than negative and hesitant in a way that limits beliefs and opportunities. Here we have the following Excellence Tools:

The Performance Tool: How to cultivate high-performance habits
Success in setting up and growing a small business is about cultivating high performance habits – focusing on the right things in the right way at the right time. In this Tool, we recommend that small business owners use customers to guide decisions on where they should focus their efforts and energies to drive their business forward.

The Renewal Tool: How to keep pace with change
This tool is all about constantly adapting to the changes that are taking place in the marketplace. It is about helping businesses constantly change and improve by following the principle of success leaves clues – applying best practice

Together these Tools encourage a positive mindset that facilitates responsiveness to change – it is about knowing how to future-proof the business and adapt to the dynamic nature of the market in which the business operates.

Business Capabilities – knowing how to get there

With regard to having business capability, we have stressed that this is only in part about existing knowledge and skills. It is more about having the confidence and belief that the required skills can eventually be mastered and taken to the next level. It is about being confident in one’s ability to sort out problems. It is about being able to take a business challenge, marshal resources, get advice, be persistent and work out a way of doing this in the optimum fashion. Here we have the following Tools:

The Optimiser Tool: How to make the right product, pricing and promotion decisions
We look at how simple consumer research techniques can be applied to make sure that a business’s processes are lean, they are not undercharging, and that they always test out promotional ideas before they are introduced.

The Experience Tool: How to deliver outstanding customer experience
We demonstrate how to create a great customer experience. Specifically, we show how small businesses can identify and monitor their performance at each customer touchpoint. We also explain how they can learn from what others in the marketplace are doing.

If you would like more information about our Excellence Tools Programme - A Success Blueprint - Seven Excellence Tools for Small Businesses - visit our Programme page. Visit for more about DVL Smith.

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