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Smart HR for the SME

Small to medium sized enterprises may have fewer employees than larger conglomerates and international organisations, but running an SME doesn’t mean there’s less work to be done.

Often, with SMEs, one vital component of running a successful business is either left to the owner/CEO, or receptionist/bookkeeper: Human Resources. 

More Than Hiring

Human Resource Management is more than just the practice of finding great talent but owners and managers of SMEs may not actually have the time to dedicate their energy and resources to the things involved in effective HRM. When you’re focused on moving the company forward, HRM may suffer and the result can be detrimental to your organisation.

Common HR Challenges for SMEs

According to research, the most commonly cited HR challenges for SMEs are:

  • Job roles and organisation structures
  • Performance management or appraisals
  • Culture
  • Motivation, engagement, or retention
  • Flexible work availability
  • Training and development
  • Managing change/redundancies
  • Communication
  • Administration, policies, or processes

Regional nuances offer uniques challenges, and as SME’s contribute substantially to workforce and GDP, it is clearly important for owners andor managers to learn ways to overcome these challenges

Steps to Overcome HR Challenges

When you’re stretched too thin within your role as a manager or owner, it can seem overwhelming to develop a human resource management strategy but there are some simple steps you can take that will lighten the load and make the process more streamlined and effective. 

Develop Clear Job Descriptions

Not only can job descriptions help your employees understand what is expected of them, but it can also help you to clearly identify the skills and  talents required to perform each job properly. This means there will be no guesswork when it comes to hiring the right people for the right job. In addition, an employee handbook can help employees understand what to do and not do, and what policies and procedures should be followed.

Strengthen Your Employer Brand

Consider that research has shown that the overwhelming majority of workers – 86 percent – would not continue to work for (or would not apply to) a company with a bad reputation and 65 percent said they would leave their company if it were being negatively portrayed to the public.

Your company culture is a vital part of a strong employer brand. A clear understanding of your organisation’s vision, mission, and ethics are all aspects that contribute to your company’s culture.

What is it like to work for your company? This is what many of today’s employees want to know before they apply to work for you. Be sure your employer brand helps you to stand out as a company that people want to work for.

Implement Training and Development

Not only does Training and Development (T&D) improve your employer brand, it is vital to the productivity of your employees. For SMEs, a great T&D doesn’t have to be expensive; there are many online courses available that are free or low-cost that can elevate employees’ skills and talents and since many SMEs are evolving, training employees to utilize additional skills will help your company grow.

Appreciate to Motivate and Engage

Employee motivation is highly correlated with job involvement and employees are more incentivised when their employers include them in goal-setting because they have an investment in the work that needs to be done. 

Interestingly, research has shown that, while pay and benefits are important factors in motivating employees, they’re not the top of the list. In fact, compensation is not even in the top three.

Today’s employees are more concerned about having a great work environment that provides them with recognition and encouragement and this is one benefit for SME’s because it’s not a costly investment to recognize people for a job well-done.

At GTM, we are prepared to help your SME tackle the many challenges associated with staying on top of the best practices, policies, and procedures to help elevate your SME to new heights. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation now.

The Power of Purpose for SMEs

The purpose of this company is to make the world a better place in the best way I know how! This company will create jobs and improve living standards, especially in developing countries.
We have all heard of Vision and Mission statements, and if they are used as a reference rather than a marketing tool both can be a real asset to a company, because it not just about putting some fluffy words on paper, but defining the intentions of the company.  We want to be….., and we will do….;  
When thoughtful and true to the companies original reason for starting they can support decision-making criteria and importantly act as a reminder, in difficult times, of the essence of the company.
If you take a keen interest in other companies, to understand their DNA, you will see that obvious statement patterns emerge – vision statements generally say “we want to be the best XXX company”, and mission statements usually contain “we will be the best XXX company by offering the best YYY service”….all good and well, and this may be similar to your own statements with a tweak here and there.
Having been involved with the setup of a number of companies now, each time there was long and hard deliberation on this subject, and I have sat with established organisations and supported introspection as to what they truly wanted to be, why and how to create current and valid statements.  Yet only recently did I understand the significance of a purpose statement.
You may have heard of some, here are a few examples 

IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.

Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy 

Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)

Smithsonian: Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world


The common thread amongst these is the aspiration to help others and make the world a better place.  Now, “those organisations are ‘big’, their intentions are ‘grand’ and you would expect something like this from them, but how does that affect me?” you may say.
Through my own personal journey, it struck me that organisations of all sizes should stand for something.  Seeing the world today, the divisive and the destructive, the inequality and injustice…I am not proud of the environment we have created and I do feel that we can all do more to protect our people, our rights, our global community, and our planet.  I certainly want a better world for my children and future generations.
Look at the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which started back in the ’60s, but is gaining great momentum recently, is the requirement for a business to ‘give back’, or at least not ‘take’ as much, and consider social, environmental and ethical factors.
In 2015, the United Nations published 16 goals for 2030, called Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s) to highlight key issues and collaborate with countries to close some of the inequality gaps with food, water, education, healthcare, energy, decent work & economic growth, being just some.
Link to blog – a beginners guide to UN SDG’s www.
If I take myself as an example…can I bring about zero poverty, or provide health and well being to all?…of course not, but I can try to make a difference.  And that is by using my attributes to the best of their abilities.  So, GTM was born to be an ambitious part of the solution, not the problem.  By job creation. By effecting job creation where it can make the biggest difference. By effecting job creation in hundreds and thousands of small businesses. And in some way help raise living standards and reduce unemployment in emerging and developing countries. (did you know that, although decreasing, 763M people live on less than $2/day, and that a close neighbour of ours, India, has over 44M unemployed today). 
Success will not be measured in billable hours, profit margins or shareholder dividends, but in the number of jobs created – and the number of business’, communities and families helped.
In addition, there is evidence of some noticeable beneficial side-effects of purpose.  Your employees will feel they are valuable and making a difference and productivity tends to increase, you will become more attractive to candidates and recruitment costs reduce, the moral compass of the workforce pints in the right direction.  And let us not forget that you will become more attractive to customers.
So we should all, small or big, owner or employee, think about the purpose of our company and if that purpose sits true with our own idea on what we want to contribute ‘to the world’.  Can we change the world?…Together, we have to.

How embracing AI, can help SMEs


AI is here to stay, you will already be using it! How to use it properly is what’s important.

Whether you believe the hype or not you are using Artificial Intelligence in many ways each day – with the auto spell on your Whatsapp, your Google search, asking Alexa to call an Uber, the chatbot conversation you had with your bank and the latest email you received as you’ve not ordered flowers for two months.

It’s here, it’s here to stay and there are many reasons small business should welcome AI in all its forms to create competitive advantage without breaking the bank.

Some examples of

Ai in Marketing – customer specific content, preference and behaviour based.

Ai in Sales – identify upsell/cross sell opportunities, capture leads.

Ai in HR – automatic candidate shortlists, synchronise leave requests.

Ai In Customer Service – automate customer handing and service management.

Ai in Manufacturing – planning for capacity, managing the manufacturing process.

Ai in Logistics – streamline logistics and supply chain.

Ai in Finance – automate reconciliation, auto credit decisions, cyber security. 

Ai in Operations – maximise resource utilisation, business process management.

As the heavy $Bn investments in AI has come from the Google’s and Amazon’s of this world, it is clear that the trickle down is becoming more accessible to the SME community. Mainly as Amazon and Microsoft, to name but two, allow their Ai technology to be used by all, secondly as a plethora of tech startups, innovators and entrepreneurs are using Ai to be competitive and fight on a level(ish) playing field with the big boys.

So, why haven’t SME’s yet fully embraced the potential of AI.

It is certainly not from a lack of hype about Ai – every day I receive multiple emails, see hundreds of Linkedin posts, read many social media snippets and even subscribe to Dubai’s Leader’s twitter feeds of the vision that Dubai will be the smartest city on the world driven by Ai initiatives.

I am sure the first farmers were cautious on how this new fangled tractor invention would be better than a horse drawn plough, or the accountant that saw easy-to-use finance software and thought his career was over.

And Yes, while the agricultural workforce of US has dwindled from 22% to less than 2%, the overall unemployment has decreased from 23% to 4% today – meaning more people are working and they have shifted roles…..and I also know there are more accountants now than ever.

Link to 

  1. SME and Ai is a perfect fit – busting 6 myths about Ai in SME
  2. Breaking down the Ai suitcase – a bitesize breakdown of Ai’s components

Footnote

There are ongoing questions regarding Ai ethicacy, morality and oversight, and those questions need to be addressed today, before the conditions are hardwired into our daily lives. But until Skynet takes over and we humans battle the machines, let us use them to help us be more than we can be without them, and SME are perfectly placed to receive more value from Ai than many others ….and if any of you are thinking, I am not a bot.

After studying Artificial Intelligence with MIT, I can recommend for all those interested a free online ‘course’ offered by University of Helsinki called Elements of AI which can be found at https://www.elementsofai.com

Breaking down the AI suitcase.


AI can be daunting, it is important to simplify and how you break it down is vital.

A bitesize breakdown of Ai main components

According to Marvin Minksy, Ai is a ‘suitcase’ term, meaning it can incorporate so many things, and by breaking this down it is easier to understand what the general phrase ‘Ai’ is made of.

The next paragraph or two is just a very headline overview of what Ai is – needed so it can be understood.

Narrow versus General Intelligence

Firstly, when people speak of Ai it is what’s known as narrow Ai, meaning an individual task to be completed. A self driving car is an example of multiple narrow Ai systems working together.  As humans, we exhibit general intelligence, where cognitive thought intakes multiple variables and our cognition interprets these variables and provides specific reactions – human nature…and all its idiosyncrasies.

Ai includes in its basic forms

Machine Learning – the most common form of Ai is the ability of a program to see patterns in a set of variables and alter a process according to desired parameters (we will leave the deep learning and neural networks to the engineers) – google advert pop-ups reacting to your latest search…

Planning and Search – another common everyday use.  A starting point, an end point, add in some variables and create a competition – google maps directing you to your next meeting..choose shortest route or quickest route.

Natural Language Processing and generation; NLP and NLG – the ability for a ‘program’ to interpret written or spoken language input or deliver output – ask Siri to tell you a joke…

Visual Recognition – the ability of a system to identify items from images, which seems easier than it is, as systems only ‘see’ in 2D, and are only now embarking on understanding 3D – Pinterest can search for products from a picture…

Robots – are not truly part of the Ai stable, however are spoken about in the same breath.  A robot is a physical execution of a program that interacts with its environment.  A robot doesn’t have to be Ai driven and Ai doesn’t need a robot, however the two work well together – Amazon Echo and Alexa

Internet of Things (IoT) – similar to robotics, this is not classed as Ai, but is used with Ai applications.  IoT is the use of remote connection to manage items or to collect many sensor status – your ‘connected’ coffee maker turning on when you are 5 minutes away from home or your Fitbit device.

For more information see other relevant posts

Link to 

  1. SME and Ai is a perfect fit – busting 6 myths about Ai in SME
  2. How SME can use Ai to beat competition

Footnote

There are ongoing questions regarding Ai ethicacy, morality and oversight, and those questions need to be addressed today, before the conditions are hardwired into our daily lives. But until Skynet takes over and we humans battle the machines, let us use them to help us be more than we can be without them, and SME are perfectly placed to receive more value from Ai than many others ….and if any of you are thinking, I am not a bot.

After studying Artificial Intelligence with MIT, I can recommend for all those interested a free online ‘course’ offered by University of Helsinki called Elements of AI which can be found at https://www.elementsofai.com

Why SME and AI are a perfect fit.


Why it’s important a business doesn’t ignore technology and understand the savings it offers.

6 myths about AI and SME explained.

SME’s are always seeking ways to create value, improve customer satisfaction, maximise sales opportunities and optimise operations. When faced with limited resources and finance, then embracing the capabilities of Ai throughout an organisation allows the business to focus on the business of business and be the best they can be.

Myth #1 Ai is not proven

This just simply isn’t the case.  Machine Learning and NLP form part of your everyday interaction with technology, and many of your purchases will be driven by intelligent marketing.

Businesses can take mundane tasks and automate them to become considerably more efficient.

Myth #2 Ai is only valuable for large organisations with lots of customers and data

True, companies with vast amounts of data need Ai to gain insights, however even small customer bases offer opportunities that are easily missed by the human ‘eye’, increasing sales opportunities, targeting specific marketing, simplifying system interactions and enhancing customer service.  Those that don’t utilise Ai will quickly fall behind those that do, especially at the SME level where competition is fierce.

Myth #3 Ai is expensive and complex to implement

There are many Ai technologies available that are built for simplicity – from chatbots capturing leads from a website to HR applications that screen candidates against desired attributes lowering hiring costs, to first-line automated support reducing service costs and increasing customer satisfaction.  Perfect applications for making SME more efficient and effective.


AI can save your business time and money – identifying how is the key to its implementation.

Myth #4 Ai needs an army of data scientist to manage it.

Again, simplicity is the key. Many Ai systems require, like most systems, a little setting up to ensure it delivers what a company requires – to define parameters like target customers or specific responses, but many can be almost out-of-the-box and the beauty of machine learning, is that the machine learns, so you don’t need to.

Myth #5 Companies already having systems will have disruption with Ai

Of course every organisation will have systems in use, however as efficiencies and opportunities can be driven though incorporating Ai then a strategy to introduce more intelligence into an organisation should never be overlooked.  Actually SME can be more agile and take advantage of Ai benefits quicker across multiple business functions.

Myth #6Ai will take jobs 

This should be rephrased ‘Ai will take tasks’…and that’s exactly what a startup, small or medium company should take advantage of.  By off-loading mundane tasks staff resources can be focussed on the most effective use of their time supporting the company in the best way possible.

For more information see other relevant posts

Link to 

  1. Breaking down the Ai suitcase – a bitesize breakdown of Ai’s components
  2. How SME can use Ai to beat competition

Footnote

There are ongoing questions regarding Ai ethicacy, morality and oversight, and those questions need to be addressed today, before the conditions are hardwired into our daily lives. But until Skynet takes over and we humans battle the machines, let us use them to help us be more than we can be without them, and SME are perfectly placed to receive more value from Ai than many others ….and if any of you are thinking, I am not a bot.

After studying Artificial Intelligence with MIT, I can recommend for all those interested a free online ‘course’ offered by University of Helsinki called Elements of AI which can be found at https://www.elementsofai.com