Someone once said to me… “You don’t get in a car to set out on a journey without making a plan for that journey and knowing the destination of where you are ultimately headed. So why would you do that in the all-important journey of life?” Well it’s the same with the journey to sustainable and ultimately EXPONENTIAL business growth. You need a map of where you want to go – if you ever want to get there!
So often SME business owners just go into work and well… work. They all but blow around in the business wind, flitting from one deal, project or system to another, without any kind of properly thought out plan or map or strategy for their systemised growth. They find themselves in places they never imagined they’d be. Sometimes good but mostly frustrating and sometimes just bad. It’s bad when they are stuck and want to grow but they can’t. A bit like an overeater who knows that to lose wait sustainably he or she should quit fad diets, get more exercise and just eat less processed crap and way more vegetables… but for whatever reason they just can’t stop themselves lying on the sofa, watching mindless tv and eating cake – then every now and then doing the Atkins or another extreme weight loss attempt. Hmmm, I reckon that’s pretty much the denial pattern of the frustrated SME business owner too!
So what should the metaphorically obese, Netflix-surfing, cake-eating SME owner who just can’t make it over the brow of the hill to exponential business growth in his or her current incarnation, do?
He or she needs to implement an action plan for a ‘Systems Strategy for Growth’!
Imagine this scenario:
A really hard working and commmited SME business owner. One who has been in business for some years now. He or she may well make ‘a very-nice-living-thank-you’ and have tasted and smelled real success. But they just can’t quite seem to get over the brow of the hill in order to enjoy the realms of EXPONENTIAL business growth.
So what’s stopping them? Well, its usually a combination of the following…
- Too much time wasted on the phone doing boiler room-style cold calling to cold leads (all of whom have watched The Wolf of Wall Street – and are now way too marketing-savvy to succumb to such outdated games). It’s so frustrating to see sales guys bashing the phones like this day after day, when, with a decent website, some well worded Lead Pages and a few tweaks of an API on software like Hubspot, they could be following red hot leads instead…
- Too much time spent assembling ‘bespoke’ quotes (and if you apply Pareto’s 80/20 rule that means 80% of time allocated to quotation creation is pretty much not financially productive). With the right ‘Quoting Software’ and when a business has all its services tidily packaged as inventory items in its accounts system (the accounts system of course should be neatly synched with the CRM!) impressive, personalised quotes can be delivered in a fraction the time.
- Too much time spent faffing around trying to manually input bits of dislocated, financial data; then report on it using whatever old-skool book-keeping mechanism is in place (usually Excel or if the boat has been pushed out – Sage 50 – throw Paypal into the mix and you get another layer of confusion for everyone involved!) Wouldn’t it be better to report from just one place?
- Too much time spent jumping into various systems to find out what has previously happened in a client’s relationship history, (think – flitting between a combination of: Excel, Outlook & Outlook Notes, the standalone CRM eg. ACT or Goldmine, the standalone accounts system e.g. Sage 50 or Quickbooks and the standalone Email marketing software eg. Mailchimp. The list could go on and on…).
- Too much time spent exhausting themselves sending ‘strategy’ emails to co-workers really late at night because it’s the only time they get to think. During the day they are too busy rushing around trying to firefight all the stuff they need to in order to keep their old tanker of a business afloat. The business that, if it doesn’t get its act together and systemise ASAP, will probably waver between making a profit or loss of only 10% more or less for its entire lifespan (that’s if it doesn’t just keel over and die from exhaustion in the meantime…) AND All BECAUSE ITS SYSTEMS ARE JUST NOT FIT FOR GROWTH!
- Too much time spent worrying about the fact that, in the event he or she should keel over and die, nobody else in the world would really have a clue how to tie all the disparate threads of the business together. Which leads to….
- Too much time spent lying awake at night thinking “who will pay the milkman, the staff, the mortgage and keep all the children in bread and water if I go under?…”
Crikey, it’s exhausting just thinking about it, let alone living through it! Such an SME business is its own worst enemy. It is pretty much a ‘self-harmer’. Not for want of hard work and commitment of course. But this business is just fundamentally cutting off its own nose to spite its face and consequently deviating from its rightful trajectory of exponential growth and success. A trajectory that IS achievable and on offer to ALL businesses functioning in our current digital marketplace; those that is, that are brave enough to get out of the denial phase, be bothered to devote time to thorough research and ACTIVELY ENGAGE WITH THE SOLUTIONS. A trajectory that is on offer to ALL because there is a totally level digital playing field out there. A playing field made flat by the mind-blowing capabilities of APIs* and the array of cloud hosted tools and platforms that work with them and are inexpensively available today.
Such an SME business cannot be lean and nimble and embrace its rightful trajectory to success, when it persistently wastes its own time on outmoded business practices and unproductive, self-destructive, bad business habits.
Now imagine this scenario:
The wise and visionary SME business owner who has been in business for a few years now. He or she has tasted and smelled success and is prepared to get really honest, do some hard work and really GO TO ANY LENGTHS in order to get over the brow of the hill and enjoy the fruits of their labour in the realms of well-deserved EXPONENTIAL business growth.
- This wise SME owner realises that in order to change his or her unproductive behavioural patterns they absolutely have to take time out of the whirlwind of day-to-day business and do some (probably quite painful) work on themselves and their businesses.
- He or she needs to do some critical deconstruction of existing processes and honest analysis of why bad habits occurred in the first place.
- He or she needs to research & uncover essential new digital tools that will get help get them out of the rut and shed addictive, redundant, bad business habits.
- This wise SME owner will replace pride and bloodymindedness (the two double edged character traits that have both got them where they are today and kept them going – but will also stop them from going any further) with a bit of humility and real open mindedness to knew technologies. He or she will be brave. They will be the absolute champion of this new digital open-mindedness within their organisation (they don’t necessarily need to do all the donkey work but they DO need to make sure they are onboard every step of the way in order to reinforce staff morale**).
- He or she might well decide to get help. They realise it would be better not to do all this on their own and to get some objective help when embarking on the action plan. Possibly even outside, expert help.
- Such an SME Business Owner needs to implement an action plan for their personal ‘Systems Strategy for Growth’!