Operations

When vacationing, it is always nice to speak with someone that has already been where you are going that can give you recommendations on where to stay and where to eat.  In business, it is always nice to hear lessons learned from someone that has already been down the same road you are considering, that can help bring you along the learning curve faster and help you avoid unnecessary missteps. 

 

Small companies must run lean, which generally means less time planning and preparing for necessary changes in the future – and no business escapes changes.  Less time preparing (especially if spending less time than your competitors) inhibits growth and, in today’s world, if you are not moving forward, you are falling behind.  In order to avoid falling behind, corporate matters over which you will either want your team to possess proficiency or need to acquire additional capacity would include:

 

  • Board Governance.  Based on the size of your company, one of your greatest assets can be your Board of Directors.  If you are not fortunate enough to have a Board nor have plans to consider at this time, you may still wish to form a group of trusted advisors that can serve as a sounding board and may offer suggestions for improving on your ideas without feeling obligated to agree with everything you propose.
     

  • Executive Management.  Growing a company is a different business from managing a company’s day-to-day operations.  It is difficult to do both; it is really hard to do both well.  Depending on existing expertise and workload capacity of the current team, consideration will need to be given as to how best manage a short-term surge or address a longer-term need.
     

  • Marketing and Online Presence.  All companies could benefit from a larger client base, and regardless of time or location, many clients want to be able to find out information, provide feedback, receive help, or transact business on the Internet.  While the manner, cost, and support may differ for each company, all companies (especially when growing) will need to determine if there is more that can be done to attract additional prospects and further expand their online presence – including being found easily in online searches.
     

  • Operating Efficiencies.  Have you ever heard, “But we’ve always done it this way.”  Working through strategic alliances, partnering with vendors, utilizing new technology or applications, and consulting on best practices are but a few ways of improving results.  Improved results will generally come in the form of increased revenue or decreased expenses, and these will need to be fleshed out prior to any successful growth initiative.
     

  • Strategic Planning.  Unless you have a vision that you have committed to writing, you do not have a strategic plan.  Once on paper, it must be written in such a way that any reader will know the associated risks to be avoided, understand what is required prior to each step, and be clear on how success will be measured within defined time frames.
     

  • Technology.  The use of the Internet for commercial uses has been available since the mid-1990s – meaning we are less than 20 years into the future when it comes to uses for technology improving our businesses.  Whether for voice, video, data, social networking, commerce, or other uses we have yet to invent, technology must be a key and integral piece of your business, whether to help grow or just to provide your company a competitive advantage.