You Can’t Do It All By Yourself – It Takes A Village!
Your new business has gotten off to a good start. You’ve proven a real demand for your product or service, and the future is promising. And then you suddenly realize, OMG, there are too few hours in the day, you’re having difficulty managing priorities and you’re not able to focus on your strengths. Too many details are falling by the wayside.
You’re not alone. It’s virtually impossible for any one or two people to manage all the processes of a growing business, regardless of industry experience, intelligence and skill sets. Think about all the activities and operations essential to a developing business and imagine that each is one leg of a three-legged stool: one leg cracks or collapses, and the entire structure is in danger.
Your acceptance of the basic truth that no one individual has the time, experience or skills to manage all the processes set out below is the first step towards finding a solution.
- Product and/or service development, a continuing process of refining, adding and updating. Anything that’s not new can quickly become old. To stand pat may be to stagnate.
- Marketing and public relations, crafting a strong message and using the right communications tools to grow your customer/client base and meet its ever-changing needs and expectations as well as identifying and satisfying your core following are constant priorities.
- Branding and brand development, critical elements of your product/service and marketing/public relation processes, and essential to building strong and enduring relationships with your target market(s).
- Sales and Sales Revenues, your all-important road signs of growth and success; measured intelligently, they are your first reading of what you’re selling, how much and to whom, and they assist you in shaping your future direction.
- Supply Chain Management (for those selling products, this may be a whole new and complex world) including sourcing, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and inventory management; managing this area requires experience, agility and logistical know-how that may have to be bought, hired or rented.
- Customer Service, ever more critical in today’s uber-competitive business climate, it offers an effective channel for building customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand. Equally important, it is an effective tool for acquiring customer feedback on what’s working and what’s not, as well as offering you a reliable guide for meeting and beating competitor challenges.
- Operations - Technology and Accounting, your primary resources for tracking, reporting, analyzing and managing operations, costs and profits (ROI) of the various areas enumerated above. Technical and time-consuming, these functions are the entrepreneur’s essential tools for maintaining and establishing control of his or her growing and increasingly complex enterprise.
To grow your business, you need to build a team, insourced or outsourced, of individuals or businesses with complementary skill sets and sufficient industry skills to manage the processes you entrust to them. The ideal scenario may be to establish strategic alliances with people and entities you can orient and supervise (but not micromanage.)
Should you lack the multi-processing skill or experience – or should you believe that you best serve the operation by focus on the one or several areas in which you are particularly talented – you may need to find the right individual to bring in as a partner or key associate, someone you can rely on both for expertise and integrity. The downside of not doing so are the opportunity costs resulting from you not maximizing the time to do what you do best, inhibiting growth, efficiency and profitability At worst, and the more likely outcome, one or more of the legs of the 3-legged stool will collapse.
I speak from experience. In 1990, when I founded a sourcing, marketing and sales agency importing apparel and sundries from Asia, I formed a strategic alliance with a Taiwanese trading company. Their responsibility, which I supervised, included Supply Chain Management and Operations. I also hired independent contractors for sales, while managing the other processes myself. The ability to manage and create a synergy among all of these processes was critical for our success.