I’m always an advocate of planning. From the first little spark of an idea, through the approach to funding, setting up and throughout the lifetime of your business, you should plan, plan, plan.
When it comes to growing a business, it’s common for some entrepreneurs to get a little over excited. Passion and dreams can run riot, especially now they’ve seen that their idea works, the business exists at last and it’s doing well.
Perhaps oddly, growing a business is a risky time. I’m absolutely not against it in any way – one of the most common services Streamlion Consulting offers is help with growing and scaling businesses. But I do believe there’s a right and a wrong way.
My next series of blogs is going to share 3 essential steps which, if taken, can guarantee successful business growth.
The first step is to Aim Big.
And we’re back to planning. The clue to the right way to approach this is in the word “aim”. You’ll notice this is different to “fire” or “fire at will”, both of which conjure up images of a scattergun approach, a distinct lack of planning. And therein lies a common mistake. With a thriving business and proof that you’ve found your niche, it’s easy to get over-confident and start growing in every direction, simply saying ‘yes’ to every request and pleasing your customers right, left and centre.
Taking a moment, taking aim in fact, means knowing what you’re good at and offering this proven skill, perhaps in new markets, rather than reinventing yourself which often means a move away from your core skillset.
Offering a wider range of different products or services too early can destabilise the business. Think of your main offering as the core of your business. A strong and well-defined core creates a stable, steady business. Your brand will become known for this core product or service and your reviews will reflect your proficiency in this arena.
Complement your core
As well as destablising your core, suddenly offering a wide range of different products or services will also end up costing more to scale as your business continues to grow. Quality or reliability might suffer and suddenly your brand is damaged.
By aiming big – and taking a moment to plan – you can stabilise your core offering and then plan complementary growth channels which work with this core but perhaps allow you to explore different markets or areas of expertise.
Taking some time to plan a logical growth journey at this stage will pay dividends in the end as your business remains efficient and effective while also getting bigger.
Next month, I’ll be looking at the next step you can take to secure successful growth – thinking big in order to create sustainable growth.
As the reality of the financial burden of COVID dawns, there will no doubt be yet another round of cost-cutting in the business world. It has become a well-worn path – recruit and increase manpower when times are good; restructure and reduce overheads when trouble hits.
However, there is a school of thought that COVID has merely been the magnifying glass which exposed a culture of overstaffing which has been building for years. According to an article run by The Telegraph during lockdown, both the public and private sector have become addicted to overmanning, with armies of people employed in spuriously-named positions who seem to have very little on their to-do list.
However, the recovery following COVID will likely need to dig deeper than simply getting rid of excess manpower. Cuts will need to be deep and a focus will need to be given to prioritising core activities within organisations.
The outsourcing opportunity
Luckily, the other side of the crisis coin means many businesses have pivoted to offer remote services, thus potentially offering resourcing flexibility without the commitment and cost that comes with employees.
Outsourcing is nothing new. It first became a cost-saving strategy in the late 1980s and, more recently, a plethora of online platforms have emerged; Fiverr, PeoplePerHour and Outsourcely to name a few; which claim to make engaging with freelancers even quicker and simpler.
With furlough having the potential to turn into a giant time-and-motion study for the future, the future of outsourcing looks good but, as with anything you don’t deliver in house, quality can be a key concern.
Many businesses prefer to work with known and trusted consultants who will take the same care of their business as they would themselves; something that isn’t guaranteed by the digital ‘freelance farms’ mentioned earlier. In some cases, it’s impossible to know exactly who will carry out the work you send, not to mention what quality will be returned. Such bidding sites are based on a ‘cheap and cheerful’ model and, as many businesspeople know, you get what you pay for.
So, what’s the alternative?
Enter the Ecosystem
Another concept that has grown in popularity during the abnormal times of 2020, is that of a business ecosystem. Again, it’s nothing new, but the attraction of being a part of one has perhaps become more evident as smaller firms look to support one another in order to survive and, eventually, thrive. Because firms within an ecosystem work together on a regular basis, there is a trusted relationship and quality can be assured because everyone’s reputation is on the line if it is not delivered.
Streamlion has long adopted the approach of building an ecosystem within which we operate. Our natural ability to network and build relationships with clients and suppliers alike means we have a powerful list of partner and associate affiliations which enable us to offer our clients a wider range of services, whilst still ensuring the quality and satisfying experience they would get by working directly with us.
Happily, this approach enables us to continue supporting smaller businesses after arranging their funding and giving them the chance to thrive during any economic climate. Of course, it’s always sad when people are made redundant but, following a decade of growth and easy money, businesses are carrying additional costs which are not sustainable. Moving back to an outsourcing model could actually be better for the economy in the medium term, especially with our new-found flexibility and ability to run operations with less infrastructure and overhead costs than ever before.
Smaller, remote teams or individuals can be nimble when responding to the needs of their clients, thus turning work around faster and ensuring quality that comes from using an expert in their field.
At Streamlion, we pride ourselves in collaborating for success. Check out a recent case study from our website for more information on how this works.