“As we head towards 2024, (SMEs) continue to face a business landscape evolving at warp-speed,” says founder and CEO of ProfitShare Partners, Andrew Maren.  

“The challenges of 2023 have left an indelible mark on SMEs, forcing them to adapt and innovate, he notes.”

To thrive in this dynamic environment, ProfitShare Partners suggests “The 5 Cs of 2024”. These key principles and actions can guide them through a new year with renewed vigour and focus. 

ONE: Customer service:

In 2024, customer service must take centre stage. Says Maren: “It’s no longer just about solving existing problems. It’s about anticipating needs and exceeding expectations. Make every interaction count. Swift response times, active listening to each client and personalised solutions should be the norm, not the exception. Remember, happy customers become loyal advocates.” 

TWO: Customer experience (CX):

Your customer’s experience is the sum of every touchpoint they have with your brand. From the first click on your website to delivery of client satisfaction, each interaction matters. “Invest in user-friendly interfaces, seamless transactions and consistent branding,” Maren urges. “More than ever before, in 2024 SMEs that prioritise a positive customer experience will stand out and build lasting relationships.” 

THREE: Communication is key:

Effective communication has never been more critical. In 2023, many SMEs discovered the importance of clear, empathetic and transparent communication during challenging times. “Carry these lessons into 2024,” says Maren. “Maintain open lines of communication with your team, your customers and business partners. Be proactive in addressing concerns, and always keep stakeholders informed.”  

Here, he notes that miscommunication – or none at all – can quickly become a talking point on social media, and one that can damage brand reputation. “The hard work you’ve put in to building a good reputation can be wiped out all too quickly through ineffective communication,” 

FOUR: Cultivate a culture of face-to-face contact:

“In a world of digital interactions, don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face contact, where possible,” Maren suggests. Whether it’s through in-person meetings, video calls or personal e-mails that a client can respond to, making an effort to connect on a human level is noted and remembered.  

“The personal touch fosters trust and builds deeper relationships, essential at a time where turbulent financial markets, an ongoing cost of living crisis and rising inflation is of concern to all businesses, especially SMEs.” 

FIVE: Commitment to ethics 

This year highlighted the importance of ethical behaviour, notably in studies such as the 2023 Business Ethics Survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of AICPA & CIMA, which named transparency and accountability the strongest indictors of ethical behaviour by participating businesses. 

“In 2024, SMEs that make an unwavering commitment to ethical business practices and are transparent in their dealings, treat employees fairly and contribute positively to their communities and environment will be noticed,” Maren asserts. “Upholding strong ethical standards will not only earn you respect, but also guide your path to long-term sustainability.” 

The challenges faced by SMEs over the past few years have been significant – but they also provided valuable lessons. “As we move into 2024, we should acknowledge the resilience that has brought SMEs this far through uncertain times, and build on that in a ‘ready for anything’ way,” notes Maren. 

“Over the past 6 years, ProfitShare Partners has added over R1.5bn of turnovers to small businesses that previously could not access funding. Where SMEs have had a contract or purchase order to fulfil, we’ve provided 100% of the capital needed, without financials, security or a track record,” he says. 

“As we’ve done since our inception in 2017, we are looking forward to growth and opportunity for our own company and for our clients in 2024. Through tenacity, transparency and action, we’re still able to say, ‘we’ve got your back, SMEs’.”