In my experience working with middle-market companies, I have learned five general areas where companies seeking continued growth should focus their efforts. Whether companies are seeking exponential or incremental growth, they should keep in mind the following five growth drivers.
Have the right team: Like it or not, your company is only as strong as your weakest link. Many times, the weaker links can be strengthened by reevaluating their positions to ensure that the right employees are in the right places. Otherwise, if you find there is no place where the weaker links can contribute at the level they should, you should consider replacing them.
Play to people’s strengths, and put them in positions that best allow them to thrive, applying their knowledge, skills and talents. Do not assume a good salesperson will make a good manager, as that salesperson might have a great sales personality but might not enjoy or succeed in a management role. Recently, a friend confided that she lamented her promotion because she had to give up the position she loved. Although she now has more responsibilities and higher pay, she is not doing what she most enjoys and therefore is looking to leave the company.
Continuously evaluate your senior management team. Do you have the right senior management in the right roles? Have they helped get you to where you are? Can they take you to the next level? Different organizations need different management structures at different times — there are no cookie-cutter solutions, and the key is to find what works right for your organization.
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Have the right branding and marketing: In today’s competitive market, it is important to have strong brand presence and keep your brand top of mind. Fish bite when they are hungry, so always keep your bait in the water.
Before launching any public relations or marketing campaigns, make sure you have strong brand assets (logo, website, tagline, etc.). For example, it does not make sense to drive people to a subpar website that does not put your business in the best possible light.
Also, make sure you have the right marketing team. Many business owners do not understand the difference between public relations, advertising, and branding, or the importance of having a strategic marketing plan that is designed to support their business plan. Some do not recognize that a good advertising agency that creates award-winning television commercials might not be a strong public relations agency that can secure top-tier media coverage, or that a creative web design firm that can launch attractive websites might not be good at developing search-engine optimization programs to ensure that those sites rank high on search-engine results pages.
Have the right suppliers: While it can be comfortable for business owners to continue to work with the same folks they have worked with for years, it is important to routinely evaluate these relationships to ensure that you have the right suppliers with the right capacity to grow with you. Are they supplying the right products or do you need to expand that? Do they give you the right quality, pricing and support?
Have the right research: Knowledge is power, and you should continually conduct product and market research to determine where your products and services are needed. Can you identify new markets? How are you perceived by your customers or clients and the public? Some business owners conduct this research internally while others outsource these functions to specialists. Whatever approach you choose, all of this insight can assist your strategic business planning.
Have the right geography: Are you a single or multi-location business? Do you have the right locations? Can you provide quality service to your clients from where you are currently based? When it comes to expansion, you can take advantage of innovative solutions like shared workspaces or virtual offices to give the perception of a broader presence.
While a multitude of other factors affect business growth, there is significant value in keeping these five factors in top of mind. A common mistake for middle-market business owners is getting too caught up running day-to-day business operations and not allocating enough time to consider strategies to reposition and reinvent their companies when needed.
To help you through this process, you may choose to apply internal resources or to rely on external partners with greater experience and specialization. Whatever the case, make sure these factors are evaluated routinely. By doing all these things right, you can help ensure maximum and sustained growth for your company.
James Cassel is co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co. LLC, an investment-banking firm with headquarters in Miami that works with middle-market companies. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesscassel. His website is: www.casselsalpeter.com