At a recent Mentors.ie seminar and networking event held in the Westbury Hotel in Dublin, Tommy Murray gave a presentation on his insights into working with SMEs. Tommy covered a broad range of issues and key attributes that successful SMEs demonstrate.

A Mentor’s View

Focusing on the main issues that Tommy sees in SMEs he listed out his top 4:

  1. Funding
  2. Marketing
  3. Personnel
  4. Shareholder alignment

Some of the comments from Mentor Tommy Murray had to offer included.

Funding

On the funding side Tommy discussed how the funding landscape has changed considerably with the contraction of traditional  banks and the stricter and different lending criteria that is now in place. This more traditional form of finance is now being complimented with alternative finance and different sources of funds. Tommy discussed how in other parts of the world non-bank funders are to the fore and play a big part alongside commercial banks. As the bank side is down to 3 main players from 7 or 8 the non-bank providers have seen an opportunity and SMEs need to embrace this new form of funding. SMES need to prepare and presnet themselves to these alternative forms of finance.

Marketing

On the Marketing front Tommy sees that there is a shift needed from SMEs who see a Marketing budget as a cost, to seeing it as an investment.   A mindset shift is needed and where this happens and over a sustained period a drastic movement to the top line numbers can occur. This observation was further reinforced from members in the audience and examples given of where an investment in marketing over the past few years has had dramatic effects on the business.

Personnel

Tommy focused on top tier managers and leaders in the organisation and listed out what he saw were the main traits that great people in organisations demonstrate. These included:

    • Ability to create a vision and to visualise
    • Ability to think strategically
    • Ability to communicate at many levels
    • Ability to make decisions
    • Earn respect & be respectful
    • Understand the importance of collaborative Leadership.
    • Have a positive attitude
    • Always assume positive intent
    • Delegate and seek to achieve results through people
    • Ability to motivate and create a motivational environment
    • Demonstrate enthusiasm and create an enthusiastic environment
    • Problem analysis and problem solving skills
    • Project management skills
    • Listen hard, give and receive feedback
    • Create a performance culture
    • Don’t play “politics”
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      Tommy Murray

Shareholder alignment

And finally Tommy talked about the critical area of Shareholder alignment and the necessity for all businesses large and small to have a robust shareholder agreement.

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