How to avoid sacrificing long-term growth when dealing with the inevitable business crises
October 2, 2012
As I have worked with and spoken to the heads of many small and midsize client companies, it has become very evident that there is just no way you can get everything done that you know you should be doing in a small-company environment. This leads to an acceptance that some things are just not going to get done, no matter how important they are. What frequently ends up being sacrificed are the activities focused on longer-term growth. As examples, over the past week I have had the following experiences with potential new clients:
- A project that had been considered critical to plan and have approved this year—in order to hit the ground running with it next year—is being delayed until at least December because of planning meetings for next year and other pressing priorities.
- A potential client who is not only the president but also the person responsible for marketing a midsize company said that not much is happening in the marketing area because he does not have the time to focus on it, even though better branding and awareness-building activities would improve sales efforts.
- A project on which the sales team needed the output in order to hit this year’s numbers was delayed due to upcoming changes in the organization.
As a small business owner myself, I completely understand how difficult it is to get it all done when you’re doing everything yourself. That’s why I’m a firm believer in leveraging (the right) external resources so that I can focus my time and skills on the activities where I can have the most impact.
If you strive to not only prioritize what you will do but also look for the places where an outside service provider might be better equipped to assist you, I am confident you will see positive results. You will be working on revenue-generating and expense-reducing activities that are directly tied to today’s profit and loss statement. The external resources will be able to handle “second-tier” priorities – the things you know should be done but that you just can’t seem to get around to doing – so the revenues continue to flow for many years to come.
If you look around, there are outsourced resources available in many functional areas, including IT, finance, HR, operations, manufacturing, regulatory and marketing. I use the Geek Squad for my technology support. Whenever I’ve tried to do anything myself in this area, it inevitably ends up taking hours, if not days, longer than it should. I have partners with whom I subcontract for technical writing and design work. In these areas the expertise that comes from focusing in just one area pays off, as there is much less rework needed, resulting in the best and most efficient results for my clients. This leaves me with more time to do the things where my engagement is critical.
Not all outsourced resources are able to function as independently as others, however. Marketing services in particular need oversight by a member of the company’s leadership team to ensure the company’s strategies are being manifested through its marketing plans and programs. This is why I often suggest that clients bring Leverage Point Advisors in as part of the leadership team. In no time, we will understand your business like any member of your leadership team, and we will proactively drive all of your firm’s marketing needs.
When you find those strategic partners whom you trust and who engage in your company as though it was their own, you will be able to spend much more time working on growing your business rather than working in its various functional areas. The results will speak for themselves!