Taking an Operations Management approach to build your company and avoid substandard performance.
It is amazing watching the athletes perform in the 2014 winter Olympics. These amazing athletes from all over the world do things that most people could never do. You may think, in the back of your mind, that these people must put in a great deal of training in order to develop their craft.
Despite their amazing capabilities, even those that fail to medal have skills far beyond the average athlete; they are the best in the world. Through natural ability, training, great nutrition and health, they’ve earned an opportunity and the right to compete.
If an athlete just focuses on skating or skiing, but doesn’t develop the mental ability to press through, they probably won’t be as successful as one who puts more emphasis on overcoming the mental challenges.
One who eats right is probably going to be more successful than one who periodically cheats on their diet.
One who is committed to increasing strength, agility and speed will probably be more successful than one who is simply a great athlete.
You see, there isn’t a one dimensional way of making it to the top. It is a combination of training activities, diet, mental and physical strength and skill that elevates and athlete to the elite status.
Your business is no different. You cannot build a successful business by just focusing on one part of it. A successful marketing campaign could lead to having more business than you can handle. Developing the perfect team without the business will bankrupt a company. Focusing just on finances can cripple growth. Even developing the greatest products in the world without a strong infrastructure could do more harm then good.
As a leader, your responsibility is to develop a plan that will enable you to leverage your company’s resources to grow you company in a balanced manner, whether that growth plan is slow and measured, or aggressive, your business would need to have the appropriately developed infrastructure – development of the finance, business development, products and human resources, in order to support the growth.
Consider a show like “Restaurant Impossible,” on the Food Channel, where Chef Robert Irvine turns a failing restaurant around. When the chef goes to the restaurant, he never addresses just the food; he works on the food (product), the staff (human resources), the menu and décor (business development) and the price strategy (finances). It is because improving only one or two parts of the business would not be enough to turn the business around.
There was a firm not too long ago that got an SBA loan in order to grow the business. They presented the bank with a plan of how they would use the money to grow the company, primarily through marketing efforts. While he had the best of intentions, instead of taking a holistic approach to growing the company, he used the money for working capital – everyday expenses, and managed to hold on for the rest of the year. He had a great product, a good team and the finances, but lacked the business development plan and execution that may have helped his business excel in the marketplace.
Through evaluation of the business, he had planned to look at one aspect of the business, without getting a good understanding of how one part of the business would affect the other parts. He worked from the angle of being a struggling business and focused on the problems that were right in front of him: making payroll, paying rent and utilities and fighting fires: working capital – the money used for everyday operations. Investing in working capital can sometimes be like throwing money into a hole. It is often a temporary measure that without changes in other parts of the business, simply prolongs the demise of the business.
In order to overcome these types of challenges, he should have worked from the perspective of an Operations Manager, asking why he wasn’t getting the business that he needed to have in order to continue growing the business. He would have evaluated the finances, product lifecycle, human resources and business development. Was it visibility? Was it product positioning? Was it the way that the marketplace perceived his company? Was it the customer experience?
With an understanding of what the root cause of the issue is, he would have considered how to address the issues. Perhaps he would have found that he needed to raise more capital in order to address the issues on a more permanent level. Perhaps hiring a business development professional would have been a good investment. Perhaps the solution was something else altogether – but the one dimensional band aid proved not to be a good solution.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
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