The energetic growth being reported in many sectors may be the big pay-off but it is also the biggest challenge for privately-held businesses right now. Across the country industries are experiencing vigorous sales increases while struggling with internal system pressures, manpower shortages and over expansion. Since timing is everything in a balanced response, review the basics and consider getting some outside perspective.
The stories we hear, like building infrastructure before a large customer makes an unfavorable supplier change, hiring poorly trained staff, or rushing to fill leadership gaps, have caused many companies to falter just when their owners thought they were realizing their vision.
Keep these important principles in mind during boom times:
♦ Don’t be too dependent on one customer – When half or more of your unit sales are coming from one or two major customers the business is vulnerable to competition and cost cutting demands. Move quickly to expand the base while showing precious customers more love.
♦ Don’t cut corners – in deal making, operational protocols, money management, inventory discipline, safety, and management controls. Now is when everything you put into building your company is on the line. Turn down work before you take something that could have future consequences.
♦ Don’t lower your hiring criteria – Hire as needed but always be on the lookout for talent. Be prepared with a list of anticipated requirements and line-up prospective hires.
♦ Don’t stop marketing – Business may be booming today but tomorrow’s sales will come from those less familiar than your present customers. And, how quickly they forget, especially when your new competitor, the one that noticed how well you are doing, kicks-off her marketing.
♦ Make sure your systems keep pace – An infrastructure created when you started the company probably can’t provide the controls, or at-a-glance information required to manage many thousands of dollars of inventory or receivables. Stong systems for marketing, operations, people and reporting are what business owners need to operate under control and lower anxiety.
A robust business development process brings in customers, but it is the rest of the organization, the people and the systems that retain these customers. To get the help you really need, find a consulting leader with a marketing-led perspective, operational skills and willingness to get involved. Search terms include: growth and turnaround specialist, small business consultant, business growth advisor and distressed business management. Or, contact Lauterback Consulting now, at 973-889-9393.