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Issue 7, Dec 2012

Don’t go anywhere, come talk to us first

You have heard it often enough. “Be creative.” “Innovate your work processes.” “Tap on technology.” “Send your staff for training.” Of course you would like to do all these and more, especially as they will promote company growth and sustainability. But right now, you have other more pressing issues on your plate. Like many SMEs, these are the oft-heard buzz words – “Competition is tough.” “Margins are thin.” “I’ve just lost my best staff.” “I can’t fill the vacancies.”  

If I could borrow the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it looks like SMEs are not ready to move up the pyramid as their most basic needs – survival – remains unfulfilled. It is almost a vicious cycle. While struggling to cope with the day-to-day operations, SME bosses do not have the time nor energy to think further. Unfortunately, without thinking beyond today, businesses cannot grow. When they do have new initiatives, they hesitate to implement them as they are uncertain of their success, and every failure is a drain on resources they can ill afford. 

This is where the SME Consulting Programme, the flagship programme of the UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, comes in. Endorsed by SPRING Singapore, SMEs can access subsidised business consulting services to identify and address issues which could limit their growth, typically in the areas of market research/brand audit, market feasibility studies,brand strategies, process management and human resources issues Carried out by senior-year student-consultants under the supervision of carefully-selected industry veterans, over 220 SMEs have reaped benefits from the professional and objective research projects since the programme’s inception seven years ago.

Like our SMEs, we also constantly strive to better ourselves. Our last newsletter was sent out by the UOB-SMU Entrepreneurship Alliance, and we are pleased to announce that this newsletter is being sent out by the UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, the first institute in Asia dedicated to serving the needs of SMEs. With the institute’s additional resources, we can offer more SMEs the benefit of our subsidisedSME Consulting Programme, as well as research and industry insights culled from business intelligence surveys. In 2013, we will be launching an online research portal packed with useful resources and interactive platforms for SMEs. Do look out for it.

Continuing the thread of continuous self-improvement, we are showcasing three projects in this newsletter. Although they are all established brands, these SMEs know the importance of keeping up with their customers’ changing needs. As younger generations become tomorrow’s cash-rich or credit-card-toting customers, there is a need to understand how best to engage them and transform them into loyal customers – without alienating their existing clientele. Find out how the SME Consulting Programme has helped these three SMEs in their quest.

As the title to this cover note suggests, if you need a leg-up or need objective input on whether your business is headed in the right direction, come talk to us first.

Here's to a wonderful 2013 to everyone!

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Last updated on 30 May 2013 .

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