Retail professional and experienced Finance and Transformation Director; Adrian Abbott explains what SME’s can learn from FTSE 100 Companies.

When I was asked the above question by fdu’s David Bloom my answer was immediate – who am I to know? Having only worked for bigger business, I reframed the question – what do big businesses do well? Or – do well some of the time!

4 things big businesses do well

1. Develop and manage customer centric action plans. This is all about gaining knowledge and translating it into real action plans that make a change for customers. At Tesco when things were going well – we combined customer, market and supplier data to identify the things that mattered most to customers. We then worked diligently to translate these into real customer plans – plans that would change customers experience within twelve months.

2. Guide the business through the short and long term by using a steering wheel to lead the journey Setting a balanced set of measures and targets is key to the success of any business. I have learnt from Kaplan that a holistic set of measures, not just financial – that include a focus on customer, operations, people AND finance is critical. Equally important is to have the right number of measures – not too many and not too few that are reviewed over sensible time-frames.

3. Insist on every person in the business having a development plan for lifelong learning. Business, like life, is all about people and relationships. Big businesses can afford to hire for will and train for skill. All businesses need to create the conditions for their people to develop. Think of it as a mind-gym. If your business is going to grow then doesn’t it need people that can grow with it?

4. Focus on a combination of Leadership and Management Leadership without management is like having a vision with no plan. Equally management without leadership may mean marching well, but in the wrong direction.So both are needed – and from everyone – not just someone. Good management enabled us to ensure the objectives of our customer plan were delivered. Strong leadership from Terry Leahy took the business to a place it wouldn’t have gone without him.

So, a long answer to a short question!If you would like to talk more about any of these or other points please get in touch with me at