Diversification essential for SME survival

Diversification essential for SME survival
Tristan Cross demonstrates Fibre Tech Solutions products to Navy staff. Commonwealth of Australia

SMEs working within the defence industry have been recommended to diversify their products and services to ensure long-term survival.

In an article Defence Connect ran with KPMG partner Mike Kalms in October 2016 (click here), he spoke about how being diversified is key for a successful defence industry SME and for winning Defence work.

More recently, Defence Connect sat down with Tristan Cross and Chris Riggs from Fibre Tech Solutions – a newcomer to the defence industry who have gained support from ministers, CASG and several prime contractors after their initial demonstration to Navy at the Fleet Base East Innovation Hub.

Their message about diversification matched Kalms'.

“I think one of the things that comes out of this is that [for] so many SMEs, if you focus on just one thing, it's fabulous when it's going beautifully and it's thriving,” Riggs noted.

“But if it runs out of puff, you're dead in the water.

“It's really important to have a whole bunch of little campfires burning, as opposed to a big bonfire somewhere. Because if something goes wrong with your main fire, how do you survive when you’ve built a business that is relying on just one thing?”

Cross told Defence Connect that even the approach to Defence needs to be diversified and dynamic.

“I think being diverse with their product or their solution,” Cross said. “Being dynamic and being able to supply certain areas in Defence.

“It's a bit hard when you're selling a tyre or a battery, but being a little bit more effective in their marketing, engaging the right people in Defence.

“Not necessarily going straight to Canberra,” Cross said. “There are certain sectors within Defence -  really target these engineers. Target the safety advisers. Target the supply chain managers.”

“And I think it's really important, and one of the things that Tristan hasn't really said here: it doesn't matter whether you want to be an Olympic runner or run a good business, there's a lot of energy that goes into getting to the first base,” Riggs added. It's not just going to just happen by itself.

“You can't wake up one morning and say, ‘I want to be a Defence contractor.’ You've got a lot of work. 10 per cent inspiration, and then a lot of hard work comes after it.”

Fibre Tech Solutions have been invited to take part in LAND400, SEA5000 and other projects since branching out from the resource sector and introducing their products to Defence.  

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