SMEs are the life blood of the economy, contributing over 50% of the global GDP. We had the privilege to work with some of Singapore’s SMEs and listening to and appreciating some of their huge challenges. When we investigated and researched into solutions we were pleasantly surprised how many of its challenges can be resolved or at least mitigated by the services provided for by today’s online services
Human Resources / Manpower
Many SMEs growth are throttled by its inability to have quality human resources. Cost of hiring is very high in many countries, and Singapore is no exception. Hiring inevitably comes with unproductive administrative overheads that SMEs need to manage and can do without. This has resulted in some SMEs trying to execute all functions from sales and marketing to accounting / administrative activities from a pool of staff. This result in shallow skills and the SME may miss or have to forgo some business opportunities thus subjecting the Organisation into a constrained business growth trajectory.
- Freelancer (upwork), flexible resource (MomoCentral), SMEs can now source for human resources from anywhere in the world, and in an even more flexible way. Businesses can now go online to engage desired expertise as and when they need to and for the duration they just need. It also gives the business the flexibility to quickly scale up and down whenever the need arises. No administrative overhead required, and with a lower resource cost.
Some SMEs can be experiencing cash flow issues. This could be caused by accepting long credit terms (up to 60, 90 or even 120 days), and unforeseen late payments. This problem is compounded by the Banks which have been the traditional lenders, implementing stricter criteria in approving loans.
This causes a significant cash flow strain to the SMEs. With its working capital tied in the accounts receivables, these SMEs have to restrict their growth to preserve their cash flow. If not properly managed cash flow hiccups can in the worst case scenario, result in inability to “keep the lights on”.
- InvoiceInterchange, peer-to-peer invoice trading, allow SMEs to turn their unpaid invoices (accounts receivable) into immediate cash by selling these invoices off to investors
- MoolahSense, CapitalMatch, FundingSocieties, peer-to-peer business lending, alternative to the traditional lenders
Access to legal consultation is always very expensive and could put a dent into the SMEs cash flow and profitability. However, it is a business necessity, ranging from drawing up business contracts with potential customers / suppliers and to employees employment contracts.
- Dragon Law, an affordable online legal solution, providing legal services from consultation to legal documents to help SMEs
Many young SMEs do not have a full control over their finances, this can lead to SMEs inability to effectively manage its operations as well as a weakness in cash flow forecasting. This could severely impact the business operation and viability
- Wave, free online accounting, invoicing and payroll tool to help businesses. It also integrates with bank account to provide a more streamline and automated process ()
SMEs generally do not have a significant marketing team within their resource profile due to resource constraint. However, being able to formulate and implement marketing strategies can bolster their growth.
- Hubspot provides both a marketing online tool and a digital/content marketing training to help businesses boost their sales.
You will realise by now that In Today’s world, there are various online solutions providers available to support some if not all of SMEs challenges. If you find any segment of your operation is not operating that efficiently or if you want to seek a better way of conducting your business, chances are someone had experienced the exact same pain and has already developed the solution. Google search is then your best friend to find the solution.
Nalinee Chinowuthichai is the co-founder of InvoiceInterchange, a Singapore invoice trading platform, where SMEs can flexibly manage their cash flow by selling invoices to a network of investors who compete to provide cash advances.