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Published On: Sun, Jun 16th, 2019

Where Are Small Manufacturers Going Wrong?

From thriving local brands to established multi-nationals, there are companies of all shapes and sizes that started off as small manufacturers. Just look at the story of the Cambridge Satchel Company, which started from Julie Deane’s kitchen table with a budget of £600.

However, there are also a great deal of small manufacturers struggling to make that step up and continue their growth. Why? In truth, there are several factors to consider…

Planning

The first hurdle is planning. Manufacturers need to have a plan in place when it comes to growth and expansion. How will you deal with extra demand as and when it arises? In many cases, companies simply don’t know. The result is catastrophic, as they either have to turn down new business because orders are “too big” or stretch themselves to meet demand and compromise on quality.

Research has found that writing a business plan prior to start-up promotes employment growth, leading to businesses becoming bigger and stronger. But it’s never too late to get your plan in place. Consider when you will recruit new staff, which areas you need to bolster, how they will be trained and managed – this will make it a lot easier to adjust when the big orders come in.

Of course, it’s not just staff that needs to be accounted for. Manufacturers will need to order materials in bulk, they may need to make the step up to better machinery to assist production, or even move to new premises.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

Marketing

Another key step, which a lot of small manufacturers are weak on, is marketing. You will no doubt love your product. You’re well aware of what makes it great, puts it above the rest and how it benefits your target audience. Unfortunately, they don’t.

Gone are the days where companies could rely on word-of-mouth. It’s important to have a comprehensive marketing strategy in place to spread the word, including:

  • Online presence – Make sure you have a user-friendly website that shows off your products, whether that’s to end-users or wholesalers and retailers.
  • Social media – Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn allow you to build a following, grow your network and promote your products.
  • Search engines – Make your brand show up on search engines with a mixture of search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising.
  • Trade shows – Attend as many fairs, shows or exhibitions to showcase your products to potential clients and customers.

Organisation

82% of small businesses that fail cite cash flow as one of the main reasons. While that may simply be down to other issues, like a lack of demand, for some it’s down to poor organisation. Too many small manufacturers stick to what they know, rather than adapting to their changing needs.

When you start up, you’ll be able to operate on an ad-hoc basis, making products as the orders come in. As time goes on, companies need to become more advanced. An inventory spreadsheet template is a good place to start, keeping track of what you have in stock, whether it’s raw materials or finished products.

As time goes on, needs change. Businesses should adapt to these changes, investing in the right software to keep track of their increasingly complex production line. That’s especially important as we move further into the digital age and change becomes even more rapid. Is your business ready to change?

Author: Matthew Perry

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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