We have to make sure our business is set up to be scalable in every way, so that we don’t get stuck as we work to make progress growing the business. What are your recommendations to help us get there?
Thoughts of the Day: Know what it is you’re trying to accomplish and clue everyone in to the overall goals. Move people around to increase communication and collaboration. Use processes and tools to help measure, manage and improve each area of the business. Move ahead fast enough to be challenging and slow enough to allow time to deal with issues before they become big obstacles.
Insure everyone on your team is on the same page, pulling in the same direction.
Set 2-3 big overall goals – revenue & profit, number of satisfied clients by year end, etc. Publish those goals and hold meetings across the company to talk about what those goals mean. Take questions. Listen to concerns and objections. Hash it out until everyone is ready to get behind what it is you want them to accomplish.
Set up reward systems that reinforce the importance of your Big Goals. Help limit conflict across departments by giving all employees the same Big Goals. Talk about how each department can contribute to the goals and what help they need to pull it off.
Encourage transfers from one department to another.
Move people around the company so they get experience dealing with the challenges of other departments. People generally will build camaraderie with people they work beside. Transfers between departments usually contribute to higher levels of communication and boost willingness to offer support across departments.
At a recent conference of business owners, we asked the group how many were working on processes for how they do things in operations. The overwhelming majority answered that this was one of their #1 priorities. They were all highly focused on giving their customers a positive experience by setting processes for how to do their work, setting standards for how work would be measured, and training people on how to follow the processes and report on results.
Then we asked the same question related to sales: how many in the room used processes and tools to standardize what everyone does in sales. Almost no hands went up. And when we asked about marketing processes and tools, all hands stayed down. This isn’t surprising, as we see most business owners work on what’s most comfortable – the product or services delivered to the company. And the function they’re usually least comfortable with, marketing, gets short shrift. That has to change if the company is going to gear up to be fully scalable across the board.
Most businesses waste time, money, and effort rolling through up and down cycles.
Too much sales in one year, not enough in another. Too much demand on production relative to what the company can handle followed by not enough work to keep everyone busy. Not enough product or support coming in from suppliers followed by an overabundance.
Limit each peak and valley. Push ahead with a goal of 10% – 20% growth. Catch problems by asking your people to track results and post them in high traffic areas. When problems crop up, slow things down enough until you can fix things permanently. Think of slowdowns and speed ups as taps on the brake and gas pedals of the business.
Learn to operate at 85% – 90% of capacity. Keep building capacity ahead of demand. Do this in every area of the business: sales, finance, marketing, operations and human resources.