How addressing one part of your company’s operations may not be effective
I think that one of the scariest things that can happen in business is suddenly being slammed with new customers and not being able to fulfill their needs, costing the company much more money than as planned in order to struggle just to keep up. While you, as a business leader, struggle to keep the business afloat, you can’t help but wonder what is going on that you cannot see…are you still profitable? Is it damage to your brand? Are there quality issues that you cannot meet? Are you engaging customers in such a way that they will come back???
Is your company’s infrastructure stupid??
When you are in the midst of the storm, you will find out, rather quickly, that you can’t fix stupid! Therefore, it is essential for business leaders who intend to grow their businesses to think differently about their company and how it will continue to survive!
The idea of measuring the return on investment or ROI is one of those activities that should be etched into your brain. You invest in marketing, people, machinery, advertising, etc., you should be thinking in terms of “what will my ROI be?”
The other part of that equation is…especially when talking about advertising, marketing or other business development activities, is with regard to handling the increase as a result of a success campaign.
This happened to a gentleman a few years ago who launched into what turned out to be a highly successful business development campaign. He was bringing in and closing more deals than ever before, and was extremely pleased to do so. However, his business infrastructure was not prepared to handle the growth; his staff became overwhelmed, began infighting and at one point, simply left the business, leaving him and his company struggling to survive.
The company lost many of its customers, and developed the reputation of being a firm that people should stay away from. So while his investment in his campaign was successful, it nearly cost him his business.
What we have to do, as business leaders, is look at the business holistically…not just from the business development side of the house or one-dimensionally (what happens if you increase staff or outsourcing and don’t have the business to support it??). Think of your business like a watch; you only tell time on the surface; it is everything inside that makes the watch actually work. Like the watch, business development activities tend to have the shiny, glassy functionality, but if the inner workings of the business don’t work;if your company’s infrastructure is stupid in a sense, then regardless of the activities, your company will be no better off.
As a matter of fact, it will probably be worse off.
The alternative is to look at the business from the perspective of answering the question about how the business will need to change in order to support the growth, and how will the business manage that change. What that might look like is:
- What are some scenarios of increase: 3%? 8%? 20% more?
- What is the current capacity of your resources?
- Are they operating as efficiently as possible? Are they making the best use of time, using a proven process in order to produce predictable results repeatedly? If not…you will want to rectify this.
- Based on this, what additional requirements will the company have at each scenario of growth?
With understanding of these questions, you can predict at what point you will need to increase your staff/resources…so the questions become:
- How will I go about getting the staff/resources?
- How should I go about paying them?
- Should I lease or buy?
- What happens if the growth is temporary? How will I scale back down?
- How will I ensure we are delivering at the same quality?
- How long will it take to get someone up to speed? Training program or OJT?
- What controls will I need to have in place?
…and so on.
What it boils down to is having an understanding of what you will do to ensure the continuity of your company. Essentially, in order to build an extraordinary company, you have to plan for growth. You have to “educate your infrastructure” so that it can handle the growth when the situation presents itself. Otherwise, when things get busy, you will find out very quickly that you can’t fix stupid!
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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