Small and medium companies form the most significant percentage of overall businesses and play a significant role in developing countries’ economies. However, SMEs are often faced with a wide range of challenges associated with the dynamic markets. New trends continue developing influencing customer needs; therefore, small and medium companies should similarly change to mainstream the trends. Specifically, these companies should embrace design thinking to increase their competitiveness and also meeting their customers’ everchanging needs.
Design thinking involves an approach that once adopted in an organization; it creates an environment whereby both the employees and the customers share ideas. These ideas are then implemented in the production of products and services aimed at meeting customer needs. The adoption of this strategy in an organization exposes the business to a wide range of opportunities and competitive advantages. Precisely, the success and prosperity of businesses often lie in customer satisfaction since they exist to meet customer needs. Therefore, most of the adopted strategies directed to improve business performance are often based on improving customer-related sectors. Moreover, due to the various challenges faced by small and medium companies, the adoption of this problem-solving strategy will help develop innovative problem-solving strategies and ensure the enhancement of competitiveness.
Solution to Challenges
Currently, SMEs are facing the challenge of changing markets facilitated by various aspects. For instance, over time customer needs are continually evolving as more customers seek customized and personalized products and the occurrence of global pandemics such as Covid-19. On the contrary, large enterprises have adequate financial resources that allow them to adopt strategies when faced with these challenges as opposed to small and medium companies’ abilities. In most cases, small and medium companies often face the challenge of the acquisition of financial resources to meet changing needs. As a result, they are usually eliminated from the market due to stiff competition. However, by implementing design thinking, small and medium businesses increase their competitiveness. In this case, this approach allows small and medium companies to develop a ground whereby they incorporate the ideas of both their employees and their customers to establish solutions.
For instance, when faced with the challenge of a changing market due to changing customer needs, small businesses can adopt the development of a good relationship with the customers and the employees, while still remaining customer-centred. One of the significant characteristics of successful businesses is customer satisfaction, which is only achieved through understanding in detail the target customer needs. This strategy develops from the implementation of design thinking which involves the incorporation of ideas from an organization’s customers and employees. The development of this relationship enables the business to understand the various customer needs and at the same time, implement transparency. Based on the understanding of the customer needs, the SMEs develop feasible strategies to create products that meet the customer needs and at the same time provide profits. Therefore, this helps the business develop a solution to the changing customer needs, and remain competitive in the business environment.
Moreover, flexibility is another essential characteristic that businesses should develop, especially the small and medium companies in order to change and mainstream to the event of trends in the market. Specifically, this characteristic helps small and medium businesses mitigate the issue of lack of enough financial resources to implement change when needed. For instance, in the event of Covid-19, various businesses, especially SMEs, were eliminated from the market due to lack of flexibility. Most of the companies that are still surviving the global pandemic have financial resources that help them go through economic shocks, and those flexible enough to shift from physical locations to the use of online stores. Therefore, by incorporating various ideas from different perspectives, including customers and employees, the small and medium businesses adopt diversity. With diversity, businesses become open to new ways of conducting business which facilitates flexibility.
Additionally, when small and medium businesses startup, they are often faced with stiff competition from the already existing businesses in the market. Therefore, this is another significant challenge that most startups face. However, by using design thinking, these startups gain the advantage of understanding the customers’ needs prior to gaining ground in the market. As indicated, a business’ success revolves around meeting customer needs and ensuring their satisfaction. Therefore, in a scenario whereby a startup is facing competition, the company needs to base its value proposition around its customers’ needs. In this event, they embrace the approach of being human-centric, which positively impacts the customers. Moreover, with a strong customer structure, these businesses are able to maintain their competitive advantage, which would be based on their customer service.
Advantages of employing Design Thinking
Moreover, some of the advantages resulting from the adoption of this strategy by small and medium businesses include the creation of strong customer interaction. In this case, businesses are often developed to meet specific needs in the market. Therefore, to ensure that a business is successful, it has to actively meet these needs and change with the changing customer needs. In this case, idea sharing between the company and the customers initiates the feeling of the value of the customers, which facilitates the interactions with the customers. Once customers are valued in a business, they often develop loyalty to the business and air their views and opinions to the company, for it to meet their needs better. With loyal customers in an organization, a reduction in the number of customers is often unlikely; thus, in most cases, this number only increases.
Additionally, this approach enables small and medium-based businesses to understand their customer needs better; therefore, the type of production implemented is often customer-based. The understanding of the customer needs also helps small and medium businesses implement innovative ways of branding and production of products and services that align with the meeting of the customer needs. As indicated before, this gives these businesses a competitive advantage regarding customer service. Compared to large enterprises, small and medium enterprises implement an excellent design of services compete favorably, which ensures their success in the business environment. Moreover, this approach creates a conducive environment for the adoption and implementation of change and evolution in business. Therefore, when adopted in small and medium enterprises, they get access to a catalyst that encourages growth and overall development. Through the interactions between teams, businesses create an environment for increased productivity and innovation.
Furthermore, the adoption of design thinking helps various businesses, especially SMEs, which are often faced with multiple challenges to gain competitive advantages through innovations. Some of the challenges that this problem-solving strategy helps include the changing market due to factors such as product customization and personalization, global pandemics, and challenges that face startups. Moreover, it also has various other advantages that help small businesses remain in a competitive environment. Specifically, it helps SMEs understand their customers, therefore produce services and products that meet these goods. Additionally, it facilitates the adoption of change and evolution, which helps small and medium businesses develop in magnitude and customer composition. Therefore, based on that, this approach of problem-solving should be adopted by all companies, including large enterprises.
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