The recently published results on SME activity compiled by The Manufacturer and Oracle makes for optimistic (dare I say positive) reading.

Of those manufacturers questioned, two-thirds of SME's view their growth plans as "ambitious", with 30% seeing continued growth and, importantly, only 5% as static.

It was the second part of the report that hit a cord with me and some of the conversations I have been having recently within the building product market.  Only 8% of respondents to the survey see their company's only focusing on their current product ranges , markets and geographic areas.

From conversations I have had this is key.  Even the larger companies in the sector are looking to spread their nets into new markets.  A prime example of this being a recent conversation I had with a Group HR Director of a very large building envelop manufacturer (naming no names).  She highlighted that an acquired business that had historically targeted the civils market had been going through pain, mainly due to government inertia.  Seeing the opportunity to drive sales in the more buoyant house builder market they have set upon increase sales staff numbers in this area and have driven marketing to get their name exposed to the Big Ten.

I have also been working with a manufacturer who has seen the opportunity to attack Central Europe.  Noting that many of their competitors supplied below-par variants, whose servicing was poor, they have worked with local chambers and manufacturing boards to gain the intelligence needed to penetrate these virgin territories.

Even SME's will have an abundance of intelligence at their fingertips, from their sales teams, marketing and customers.  So, the question is, have you as leaders gathered enough of it to drive diversification and prevent becoming over reliant on your core markets?