Thriving Small Businesses Often Have This Trait, Says NetSuite Leader

What’s one trait that thriving small businesses often have? Ranga Bodla says that from interactions with countless businesses, the successful ones often have one characteristic that stands out.

Ranga heads industry marketing at Oracle NetSuite. The technology giant’s arm makes a host of applications for small- and medium-sized enterprises. As such, the leader has been on the frontlines of discussions with business leaders about their needs. He’s also witnessed how the most successful customers run their organizations.

He recently spoke with Ramon Ray at the Survive and Thrive Growth Summit. In addition to the trait that thriving small businesses frequently display, the two also discuss how the beginnings of Oracle NetSuite and how it can help businesses in this time of crisis. They also discuss tips for small businesses to survive and thrive in this current business climate. Read on to learn Ranga’s insights.

Ranga Bodla, Oracle Netsuite head of industry marketing

Ranga Bodla, Oracle Netsuite head of industry marketing

Built for business, no matter the size

From the get-go, NetSuite has always been an entrepreneurial company, Ranga says. The company focuses on providing the technology needed to run an entire business, all accessed through the browser.

Founder Evan Goldberg was determined to give the small guy the same resources that the big guy had. That’s why the focus is not just on large enterprises, their products work just as well for the small business.

That aim is serving NetSuite well. It has more than 22,000 customers who trust its products to run their business day in and day out. In turn, the strategy is also benefiting budding entrepreneurs at thriving small businesses.

“A lot of companies talk about: ‘oh our target’s the Fortune 500,’” Ranga tells Ramon. “The thing about the Fortune 500 is there's 500 of them. What Evan talks about is going after the ‘Fortune 5,000,000,’ and really, that has been my experience.”

The thing about the Fortune 500 is there's 500 of them

In fact, that’s what he loves about his work. On any given day, he could be helping organizations in the software, health, beauty, apparel, manufacturing, distribution, or non-profit sectors.

Ranga, who’s been at blue-chip names like IBM and SAP, has seen NetSuite’s software power all of those companies. Seeing it help companies big and small is why he has stayed with NetSuite the longest. Even the company’s founder is also still with the company, he says.

Supporting healthy businesses in times of crises

Financials, customer relationship technology, e-commerce; all of these tools are offered in the NetSuite portfolio. Customers also love that they can access these tools on their browser, tablet, or phone.

And that’s especially important at the moment, Ranga says. To be able to maintain the business wherever you are is a critical part of what many of NetSuite’s customers are doing.

There’s another benefit to using an integrated suite of business management software. Ranga says it gives you insights into customers that would otherwise live in fragmented services and different touchpoints.

Nonetheless, Ranga points out that NetSuite is not a cure-all.

“We are all about empowering people to realize their vision. If somebody doesn't have a great mission or product, just putting in NetSuite is not going to help them,” Ranga says.

Understanding your business

Meanwhile, Ranga also tells Ramon that visibility into the business is crucial at the moment. Leaders must understand their businesses. And when they know their business, they can decisively take action.

Take for example loans offered to small businesses at the start of the pandemic. Some businesses wondered whether they could take on those loans, Ranga says. The business leader who understands their business and can quickly make a decision comes out on top.

On the other hand, the business leader who doesn’t have a good view of their business. The business may be growing, but when things happen, they would most likely make a bad decision because they have an inadequate understanding.

“You may make [decisions] based on your gut,” Ranga says. “You may think your gut may be telling you something, but in fact, it’s just telling you you’re hungry.”

Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash

“You may think your gut may be telling you something, but in fact, it’s just telling you you’re hungry.”

Ranga says that if you don't have the “shared foundation” that everyone uses to make decisions, it's hard to make decisions. That’s especially true in this business environment. These decisions apply to any size business, from small businesses to large enterprises.

“Knowing how much you can invest, where to invest, where to dis-invest, these are critical,” he says. “If you don’t have that shared set of metrics, how can you make those decisions?”

Inside scoop on internal communications

“It’s important to know what’s going on,” Ranga says. In other words, your team will be better off if they know what the company is going to do next and why.

You may be making cuts in certain places while also investing in others. Certainly, it’s important for your team members to know how that positions your organization for now and for the future, he explains.

Those decisions will not always be pleasant for your team. Sometimes, you may have to let go of people. However, being upfront about is better, Ranga says.

Consequently, this also displays some vulnerability. This is important since even business leaders are human. You have to acknowledge that your customers and your team are not alone in their struggles now during the pandemic, he says.

Plan but be ready to adapt

Ranga says that especially today, there’s a need to be constantly planning. The pandemic continues to surprise us.

“It's forcing changes into not just how we operate, but how we communicate, how we talk to our customers how, and we talk to our employees,” he says.

“You have to constantly plan, but your best-laid plans can easily go out the window,” he adds.

You have to constantly plan, but your best-laid plans can easily go out the window

He suggests leaders must shrink their planning cycle. Have a plan for the next year, the next half year, the next quarter, and the next month. If things change, quickly adapt.

The frequent trait of thriving small businesses

The frequent common denominator for the thriving small businesses Ranga encounters is that they have an idea of what they’re good at. Most importantly, these companies then let others handle the stuff they don’t need to focus on.

Of course, it’s critical for owners to understand all facets of their business. This is why Ranga says that visibility into the business is important. But the key here is most efforts of the business should be focused on what makes them great.

If you organize phenomenal training for businesses, focus on that. Know how important other facets of the business are, but then bring in teams that can handle that better than you.

Photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

In the case of NetSuite, simply bringing it in will not make everything great, says Ranga. However, for the businesses that have it figured out, bringing in the suite of tools can be transformational.

“When you have a great entrepreneur who knows how to operate and they focus on what makes the business great and not on the boring stuff, those are the companies that are able to build on their success and take advantage on the infrastructure and the foundation we’ve provided them and grow from that,” he says.

Resources for small businesses

For those wondering how they start working with Oracle NetSuite, they actually provide resources for small businesses as a place to start.

The company’s Business Now resource guide can be used by small businesses to learn about finance, best practices, and more. It also provides information specific to certain industries, like retail, software, non-profits, and others.

Oracle NetSuite is also constantly updating these resources. Part of the guides is the questions and insights business leaders have as they navigate the pandemic.

Ranga’s tips for small businesses

So let’s recap what Ranga suggests thriving small businesses do during the COVID-19 crisis. The insights he shared are:

  1. Use tools that let you keep your business running smoothly no matter where you are.
  2. Ensure you have a complete understanding of your business and decisively take action on necessary decisions.
  3. Plan but be ready to adapt. Be open to your team about your situation and plans.
  4. Know what makes your business great and focus on it. Let better-suited teams handle the other stuff.
  5. Take advantage of resources being offered by other companies that can help your small business.

To listen to the full interview with Ranga, visit our podcast.

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