"In today's competitive marketplace having great products or services isn't enough, your SME business needs best practice processes to succeed."
SMART-Connect helps you find the strengths and weaknesses in your SME business processes and identify the key gaps that are holding your business back so you can achieve your business goals.
There is no charge to use the Toolkit.
We know you’re great at what you do… but it’s tough running an SME business, you don’t have time to be a best practice expert on every aspect of business practice: marketing, branding, sales, HR, technology, risk management, systems development, performance management, strategic planning, IP protection, cybersecurity….. the list goes on.
That’s the unfair advantage that big businesses have…big consultancy budgets and in-house expertise across all aspects of running a successful business all working together collaboratively to achieve business objectives. Not to mention the tax havens and lobbyists.
Here’s what we’re doing to tip back the scales, sorry, no lobbyists or tax havens…..
We’ll give you the business insights and expertise big businesses use to stay on top
Our specialist advisors will work collaboratively with you across every aspect of your business
We’re committed to working with you long term to thoroughly understand your business.
We’re a group of independent professionals working collaboratively to give you the insights and expertise to achieve your business goals.
Every business advisor is a best practice expert in their field
….. business planning, risk management, HR, leadership, technology, customer service, sales, branding, marketing and many more.
Our independent quality control and feedback system guarantees that you are dealing with quality professionals who have been thoroughly vetted and who are held to account to maintain the highest standards of professional excellence and customer service.
We’re all SME business owners like you. Collectively we’ve walked a million miles in your shoes, and we have the blisters to prove it.
Our free business best practice benchmarking toolkit will show you your SME’s strengths and weaknesses and the key gaps in your business strategy. (WARNING: you may find the results confronting).
We’ll connect you with a group of carefully selected business advisors who will help you to identify the best next steps for your business.
You get ongoing access to “pay as you need it” advice, based on your budget and goals to put you in the driver’s seat of your business improvement agenda.
Use the free Business Best Practice Benchmarking Toolkit to find the strengths and weaknesses in your business practices, identify the key gaps that are holding your business back and develop your own business improvement plan
Great offering and great resource just with the report. Looking forward to connecting with your experts.Yvette Willison
The NUMBER ONE reason so many good SME businesses struggle
The number one reason many businesses don’t make enough money, struggle, lose market share, can’t get a good price when they’re ready to sell, and sometimes even go out of business isn’t because they have bad products or services…it’s because of all the other “stuff” it takes to build a successful, profitable business.
You’re great at what you do… so how on earth can you expect to also be great at marketing, branding, sales, customer feedback, HR management, technology, risk management, systems development, customer communications, performance management, strategic planning, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, IP protection, cybersecurity….. the list goes on.
You may be good at some of them; perhaps even great at one or two… but unless you are some sort of business superhero there is no way you can be great at all of them. That means there are almost certainly some significant gaps in how you are doing business; and gaps in your ability to prioritise where to focus your business improvement efforts and budget.
That’s the unfair advantage that big businesses have…big consultancy budgets and in-house expertise across all aspects of running a successful business all working together collaboratively to achieve business objectives. And that lack of collaborative best practice expertise may be seriously impacting your ability to get the best possible results from your business.
So what are the solutions?
- You can get a business coach or ask your accountant…. but they often lack the depth of expertise you need across the full range of business options and challenges.
- You can take the self help route but that takes time you don’t have and may not achieve the results you are looking for in the end.
- You can do some sort of “Business Improvement Program” – if you don’t mind spending a fortune following someone else’s agenda and spending time on all the things you don’t need just to get at the few things that are really useful.
- You can work with a big consultancy firm with a broad range of experts… if you have the budget, and if you are happy to deal with junior staff members who only read your file for the first time this morning.
- You can appoint a board of directors, if you don’t mind the cost and the risk of losing some of the control in your business.
- You can call on a range of experts, but the risk is that each of them has their own agenda and even with the best of intentions they will sell you their solution to a problem without testing any assumptions about the problem or how the solution fits into the bigger picture of your business.
At SMART-Connect we think the best person to drive your business improvement agenda is YOU.
That’s why we give you THREE things:
1. Best Practice Benchmarking
Free access to the best practice business benchmarking tool so you can determine exactly where the gaps are in your business, what you are good at, what you need to work on and maybe some things you didn’t even realise were important in helping your business grow. The information big business have at their finger tips; the information you need to create your own best practice business improvement agenda, to set priorities, test your assumptions and determine if, when and what you will work on based on your business goals and objectives, and your budget.
2. “As you need it” expert business advice
You get pay as you need it access to a carefully selected and continually tested group of business advisors. Individually each one is a best practice expert in their field: experts in business planning, risk management, HR, leadership, technology, customer service, sales, branding, marketing (and a whole range of marketing specialties), financial management, business operations, cultural change, systems integration, the list goes on. There are no ongoing commitments, just quality advice as and when you need it, from business owners just like you who are great at what they do.
3. The security of our TWO WAY quality control process:
- All SMART-Connect Advisors participate in a strict independent quality control process both before they are invited to join the alliance and as an ongoing condition of membership.
- Our advisors all work together collaboratively, looking at their specific area of expertise in the context of your whole business improvement plan, working as a team with the direct input of their fellow advisors – what that means for you is they hold each other accountable, guarding against mistaken assumptions and minimising the risk of providing you a solution for the wrong problem, or working on the wrong priority, or implementing solution X when it won’t work with solution Y.
FAQ About the Business Best Practice Benchmarking Toolkit
What's in the toolkit?
The best practice benchmarking tool kit consists of an online benchmarking self assessment tool, a comprehensive benchmarking guidebook and a business improvement planning dashboard customised to your business based on your responses to the self assessment.
How long does it take?
It takes between 5 and 20 minutes to complete the full best practice benchmarking assessment tool depending on how many of the benchmark explanations and checklists you need to review. The average time taken is 10.5 minutes.
Once you have completed the Assessment tool you will receive access to the full Benchmarking Guidebook and your business improvement planning dashboard report so you can develop your own business improvement plan at your own pace.
Can I start and stop at any time?
You can start and stop at any time - your personal self-assessment will remain available until completed as long as you open the link on the same computer (just don't clear your cookies). Once you have completed the self assessment part of the tool kit you will be sent the link so you can download the guidebook and business improvement planning dashboard report and refer to them at any time.
What does it cost?
The Business Best Practice Self Assessment Tool, the benchmarking guidebook and the business improvement dashboard report are all completely free to use for SME business owners.
Will my responses be secure?
Your responses are completely confidential and will not be used for any purpose other than for the collation of statistical data and for the preparation of your customised Business Best Practice Benchmarking Guidebook and business improvement dashboard report.
What does the Benchmarking Toolkit cover?
The SMART-Connect Best Practice Benchmarking Tool covers all of the key factors or benchmarks which predict a successful, profitable business.
All together we have identified 50 benchmarks or best practice indicators based on 11 central business pillars.
- Business Planning
- Customer Relationships and Sales
- Financial Management
- Human Resources
- Company Culture
The Self Assessment Tool contains three sections:
- Rate your business against each of the best practice benchmarks which are relevant to your business. You will find a (?) symbol next to each benchmark in case you need more information about what the benchmark means or how to assess your business.
- Provide basic demographic information to help us develop valuable predictors of success across industry sectors, turnover, and maturity of business.
- Self-assess your business in relation to speed of growth and profitability. These questions will help us develop the highest quality data possible in relation to the predictors of fast growth and high profitability.
Will I receive a copy of my responses?
You have the option to enter your contact details in order to receive your Business Best Practice Dashboard report and customised Best Practice Benchmarking Guidebook so you can develop your own business improvement plan and track your progress towards best practice over time.
What is best practice benchmarking?
Best practice means finding and implementing the best business processes to achieve your business goals.
One of the best ways to do this is through benchmarking, which enables you to compare your business with other successful businesses to highlight opportunities for improvement.
Robert Camp (1989) defines benchmarking as “the search for those best practices that will lead to the superior performance” of a business or organization. This is not the same as the more commonly used financial benchmarks which you can get from your accountant or the Tax Office. The emphasis of best practice benchmarking is on understanding the practices and processes of successful organisations to find out how they do what they do, rather than reviewing ‘bottom line’ data and trying to match or beat it.
Evaluating how your operations compare with the most effective and profitable businesses, and then using the most effective and relevant components - the "best practice" in your own business, can make a huge difference, saving you massive amounts of time and other resources “reinventing the wheel”
A best practice benchmarking strategy can help your business to:
- become more competitive
- increase sales and develop new markets
- reduce costs and become more efficient
- improve the skills of your staff
- use technology more effectively
- reduce waste and improve quality
- respond more quickly to innovations in your industry or niche
That’s why those organisations that are serious about improving performance regard benchmarking as on-going business process that is fully integrated with continuous improvement in their organizations.
However despite all of the benefits, for most SME business owners implementing a best practice benchmarking process remains out of reach for five key reasons:
- Finding the time and other resources to implement a best practice strategy
- Not knowing where to find and how to recognise best practice
- Not knowing what you don’t know and how to assess your own business processes against best practice.
- Not knowing whether a particular practice is the right solution for your business
- Not knowing the best way to implement a business improvement process based on the best practice you identify.
The SMART-Connect Best Practice Benchmarking and Business Improvement Process has been developed to address these challenges.
What is the Best Practice Benchmarking Guidebook?
The SMART-Connect Best Practice Benchmarking Guidebook provides a detailed breakdown of each benchmark including a comprehensive checklist of actions you need to take or items you need to cover in your business in order to meet each benchmark. ..
The Guidebook is customised to YOUR business based on your responses
You will receive your customised copy of the Guidebook following completion of the Business Best Practice Benchmarking Tool.
How does the SMART-Connect Best Practice Business Improvement Process work?
Step 1: Benchmark your business
Use the Business Best Practice Benchmarking Assessment Tool to see how your business stacks up against the best practice benchmarks of running a successful and profitable SME Business covering Branding, Marketing, Customer Relationships and Sales, Operations, Financial Management, Technology, Human Resources, Strategic Planning, Risk Management, Business Systems and Company Culture. It's free and completely confidential.
Step 2: Develop a business improvement Plan
Once you've completed the initial benchmarking process, if you ask us to, a small group of independent advisors will review your results to identify those critical risk factors and opportunities for improvement that will provide the greatest strategic advantage and potential greatest ROI and create a set of recommendations for a business improvement plan.
Up to this stage, it's completely free, there are no catches and no obligation. Guaranteed!
Step 3: Find the Right Advisors
What you do next is entirely up to you.
- You can do nothing
- You can work on the recommendations yourself
- You can take the recommendations to your own advisors to implement
- You can elect to work with select SMART-Connect Advisors as you need them based on your business improvement plan. It's your business and your business improvement plan... you are in the driver's seat at all times.
Step 4: Review, revise and repeat.
We recommend that you repeat the Best Practice benchmarking process on a regular basis so that you and your advisors can ensure that you continue to focus on the business improvement strategies which will provide the best possible outcomes for your business.
What industries and business sizes do SMART-Connect Advisors work with?
Broadly speaking we work with SME businesses turning over between $20K a month and $70 million a year.
But it's a bit of a standing joke at SMART-Connect Advisor meetings - "Get more niched, and more niched and more niched again!"
And that's what we've done....we've created a
So what industries and business sizes do we work with?
- Businesses turning over between $20 thousand a month and $3 million a year
- Businesses turning over between $3 and $12 million a year
- Businesses turning over between $12 and $70 million a year.
We have best practice business advisors who
consultantsand entrepreneurs who are stuck in the consultancy trap and want to grow a scalable, saleable business.
- Businesses who want to grow but lack the systems and strategies to break through the next growth barrier.
- Businesses which are stagnating and need to find a new competitive edge in the marketplace.
- Business owners who want to create an exit plan
- Businesses preparing for sale
We have best practice business advisors who
- Manufacturing businesses
- Professional Services Businesses
- Real estate businesses
- Medical and health services businesses
- Technology businesses
- Coaches and consultants
- Building and construction
- Not for profit
But there is something much more important than all of that... and it's something we ALL have in
What are the most common problems with finding the right business advisor?
Unfortunately finding the right business advisors and experts can be a time-consuming, expensive, hit and miss affair. It’s an ongoing headache for most business owners:
- Experts who tell you THEY have the ideal solution to your problem, often without taking the time to really understand your business or being willing to refer you on when there may be a better option for your situation.
- Finding yourself dealing with a different staff member or consultant at every meeting and constantly having to re-explain your business and your problem.
- Getting shunted from one supplier to the next, always being asked to spend more money and still not getting the outcome you were looking for.
- Paying exorbitant prices for inadequate or at best average outcomes from suppliers whose main claim to fame is how good they were at blowing their own trumpet, or how much money they had to throw at marketing, not how well they could help you.
- Wondering if you’re getting the best advice or if you’ve got the right suppliers for the job, if they’ll talk to each other, or if you’ll find that solution A can’t work with solution B and you’ll have to rip it all out and start again.
- Worried that the solution you’re being sold may not be the best option for your business but not knowing what you don’t know!
- Finding yourself dealing with large
organisationswith no soul and no care, and staff members who are only there to earn a paycheck and go home.
- Working with small suppliers with the best of intentions who do their best to help and end up being a “Jack of all Trades”, or
over extendingthemselves and no longer providing you with the depth of expertise or the quality of service you really need.
- Discovering your advisors have put themselves first with recommendations based on what’s in it for them, not what’s best for you.
The SMART-Connect Alliance was created so you never have to worry about any of those challenges again.
What makes SMART-Connect advisors different?
The SMART-Connect Alliance is an
Here's what that means for you:
Best Practice: All SMART-Connect advisors and experts are at the leading edge of their industry or profession. We've combined our experience and expertise to create the Best Practice Benchmarks so you can easily and quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses in your business practices and develop and implement your own best practice business improvement program in line with your unique business goals and objectives and your budget and priorities.
Scope: Collectively we bring together a comprehensive knowledge base providing best practice expertise in all aspects of running an SME business… accounting, legal, marketing, sales, staffing, systems, risk management, technology and more. And we're constantly on the lookout for high-quality specialists who can bring leading edge knowledge and unique perspectives to the alliance. That sometimes means things you didn't even know existed that can provide real opportunities for improvement in your business.
Synergy: Whichever SMART-Connect specialists and advisors you work with you can be confident that they will work together as a team across every aspect of your business, saving time, avoiding duplication and miscommunication and reducing risk. That's what makes the SMART-Connect Best Practice Business Improvement Process so powerful. With SMART-Connect 1 plus 1 really does equal 3.
Skin in the game: SMART-Connect advisors and specialists are SME business owners like you. When you work with a SMART-Connect Advisor you can be confident that you are dealing with a principal or someone only one step removed, someone who is genuinely committed to helping you achieve the best possible results for your business, not with a large
Ongoing Support: We’re committed to working with you long term, taking the time to thoroughly know and understand your business and forging strong relationships so we can best support you on your business journey. That's a WIN WIN.
Quality Control: Finally all SMART-Connect Advisors and Specialists meet our strict quality control guidelines. Every SMART-Connect Advisor's reputation depends on it and we wouldn't have it any other way.
So if any of those things are important to you... get in touch, we'd love to meet you.
How does the SMART-Connect Quality Control Process work?
How it works
Prior to acceptance as an Alliance member candidates are required to survey their clients from the past twelve months. Any candidate who fails to meet our high standards in this initial review process is automatically excluded from membership.
Following acceptance, all Alliance members continue to survey their clients on an ongoing basis in line with best practice for their industry. The results of their feedback surveys are posted here on the SMART-Connect website.
SMART-Connect Advisors and Specialists are required to maintain an ongoing high standard of client feedback in order to retain their place in the Alliance.