I am now past 50 years old, and many of my friends and associates who have become successful in their careers or business, are now groaning and complaining that it is becoming harder to sustain business growth. Here are some of my observations:


Competition is keener

The main complaints appear to be: “There is more competition, making deals harder to come by”. On the recruitment front, many find it hard to attract the right talent. Lastly, it is tiring trying to catch up with the latest in technology.


Source: SkillsFuture


In order to address these challenges, the Singapore government, together with key stakeholders, like employers developed the SkillsFuture framework. Despite having leadership and mentor programmes under this framework, many SME bosses still have not upgraded their minds.


Organisational literacy

I am often amazed at how some of the most successful business owners here, could have achieved so much financial success without a clue or any appreciation for organisational literacy.

Put simply, as a business grows, there is a corresponding demand of time and attention from the business owners. Unless the business owner is able to free themselves from the daily “fire fights”, their businesses will suffer from lack of strategic plan. This lack of a strategy is one of the causes of the main complaint we hear.

While there maybe many definitions as to what organisational literacy is; in my experience there are three that all small business owners ought to learn and master:

1. Authority and Empowerment

 In order to ensure that there will not be a decision bottleneck, create systems and reporting lines where different decisions can be made by subordinates. Empower subordinates to be stakeholders and be part of the project decision making team.

2. Risk Control

In the Hokkien dialect “Pow Sua, Pow Hai” literally means “Cover the mountains and cover the seas”. Many SME bosses make their general managers captains and lords over all “the mountains and the seas”. General managers are the most pitiful lot, for they are the ones who must shoulder all risks.

I have seen many general managers, wear the hats of sales, finance, operations, human resource and even legal. As a result, these super humans are expected to perform all these tasks on a single pay check.

3. Communications

Perhaps the most important of all skills for any leader. The ability to write and communicate ideas and orders clearly, is sorely missing among our business owners. The digital world is a written world and unless concepts and ideas can be communicated in this form, many businesses will not be able to transcend beyond communities based on physical relationships.

What to Do?

Let our business team at GoSME and legal team at VanillaLaw™ help you overcome these challenges. Contact a Biz Friend now.

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