Your passion is still strong … but how’s the cash flow? To hell with the suits, the answers aren’t that hard! Practical, common sense …
It is common knowledge that many countries have a high proportion of small and medium size companies, (SME) owned and run by “the boss” – usually an immensely talented, passionate, resilient and broad shouldered individual that spends many an hour working in (and occasionally “on”) his or her business.
Certainly no one begrudges the effort of this hardy soul, and the commitment is there for all to see.
However, if one of your goals is to “grow my business” (let alone survive in challenging times), it is important that you incorporate a focused and pragmatic “Growth Plan”, with buy-in from the team, and with practical, sensible governance around it. This does not need to be “over the top”, but it needs to be there!
The days of running the business by the “seat of the pants” is for the extremely brave, fool hardly, or the plain ignorant. The owner/operator may have broad shoulders, but eventually will crumble under the load – a very painful experience for the owner and other key stakeholders including any fellow shareholders, employees, creditors, customers and suppliers.
I suggest that all companies should have a Growth Plan, that uses the “power of the team”, with associated governance processes . And a bi-product of such a Plan, may well be a better Work/Life balance. Wouldn’t that be novel!
The aim of the Growth Plan is to consistently manage, monitor and improve the business – to keep a watchful eye that “your baby” is on track to achieve the strategic and operational goals that are set, and to ensure that you are not taking on too much risk for too little return.
Ideally the business goals will have been flushed out through your strategic and business planning process.
Recently, I have launched the “12 Week Growthology” program, for those who are serious to help in this planning process. This is a dynamic program, tailored for your needs and stage of development, and after 12 weeks the program provides a highly practical and focused Growth Plan for your business . (For more information on this program, please go to the Services Page of this website).
As part of this program, you will identify/update your vision, goals, key issues – with responding strategies and activities, key milestones, targets, and budgets for the year ahead. Importantly, we identify the key “focus areas” that need priority across your Growth Plan.
You will also identify the areas of responsibility for delivering the Growth Plan and sensible KPI’s (key performance indicators/measures) to help you assess the success or otherwise of the various strategies and activities that you use to implement and deliver on the plan – whether they be sales and marketing, new product development, financial, operational, etc.
Now, having put in place the key elements for your Growth Plan, it is essential that for good, practical governance, you capture and deliver:
- Who needs to know what – at the different levels of your business. What do you (and others) need to review performance and deliver on the Growth Plan; and for you to comfortably sleep at night without undue stress!
- How often do you/they need to know this information.
- How best to communicate and report on this information – to keep things focused and simple, (and to save the odd rain-forest!).
- How feedback and any required change will be accommodated and followed through.
- Authority lines and powers.
We often hear moans about reporting! However, for your Growth Plan and associated governance to be real and effective, it has to be based upon robust and focused communication, including reporting. This is paramount to ensure that those tasked with managing the various strategies and activities have both the visibility and opportunity to review quality information, as needed to assess performance and introduce changes where needed.
Naturally this process will be unique for each company.
This information flow is likely to be the nerve system and a key ingredient for success and longevity of your business.
- there are some extremely good planning tools out there, a lot which are based ‘in the cloud’ – and provide the platform for planning and delivery of your Growth Plan; providing for visibility across the team as may be appropriate, delegation, performance measures, strategies and activities, timeframes etc. I will be happy to recommend a few.
- Engage in an open and constructive fashion with your key managers/staff to identify what they really need to review performance, and then put in place systems and procedures to ensure the timely flow of the said information. The cultural environment is certainly important.
- Invest time in developing the process, constantly reinforce the collective benefits, and encourage the process to be viewed as a tool for success rather than a threat.
- Advisory Boards can be very useful small and medium sized companies. They provide for a higher level governance and discipline. Additionally, a good board will bring balance, specialist expertise, innovation, and added credibility.
- One would expect to pay for a good board member. Regard this as an investment!
- There is no hard and fast rule for the Board make-up; although a mix from financial, legal, technology and sales & marketing backgrounds is often recommended – ideally with a good affinity and reputation within your industry. Additionally, consider bringing in an independent adviser to ‘chair’ the Board with experience, expertise and objectivity.
- Whether board meetings be monthly or quarterly, it is important that they are governance by nature and do not “dig into the operational weeds”. Discussions will incorporate compliance matters but should lean heavily towards performance review; progress towards achieving rolling 5 year plans; and possible new strategic initiatives to further bolster growth.
So to conclude:
- You may be good, but don’t do it alone;
- Look to the wider team – staff, management, and possibly an Advisory Board
- Work out what information your team really need to track & deliver, consistent with your Growth Plan
- Develop the information gathering, communication, review and follow up process
- No one likes reporting, but do not shy away. It’s for the better good!
- Have a good look at the 12 Week Growthology program. The aim here is to dust down any previous or existing plans, update them, and springboard into real and achievable activity that delivers to the bottom-line and sustainable growth.
- The following eBook in the “Subscribers Corner” under the Free Stuff page on the website will also provide useful ‘food for thought’: eBook – Your 100+ Checklist with Key considerations to Grow your Business.
Finally, I would urge you to take a few seconds to fill in the Subscribe to this website form. You will then receive notifications periodically on additional information, plus as a sign up gift I will offer a free initial consultation.
Last modified: October 27, 2017