In our last blog post, “Will Your Organization Survive Corporate Adolescence?”, Bill Sharer, Navigate‘s founding partner, defined what it means to be a corporate adolescence. Today, Bill is sharing 9 tips on how to mature your company to where you want it to be.
The most common denominator we see in adolescent (or immature) companies is lack well documented processes. If in doubt, start here: begin writing things down. Your business is changing, usually gradually enough that you don’t notice it much.
Here are some things you need to document. These require answers to several questions:
- Your major markets. Where is business coming from today—by geography, by type of client (vertical), by products or services sold, by size of project? How do you see it changing and why?
- What your ideal client looks like. For whom do you do your very best work? How can you find more like them? How well is your sales team aligned with markets and preferred clients? Do your sales people both “hunt” and “farm”? Are you ready for a more institutionalized marketing and business development function?
- Your actual processes. There should be established and written ways to do what you do, from front to back. Just to name a few (out of several dozen):
- Use of site surveys
- Clear scopes of work
- Estimating and proposals
- Forecasts of revenue and needed resources
- Order entry/job setup
- Project kickoffs
- Change orders
- Time tracking/job costing
- Substantial completion/project closeout/final billing
- Commissioning to service
- Reporting/monitoring metrics
- A list of “must keep” employees. Who can you not function without, and why. Who on your staff is ready for more? Who is OK where they are but not much more. Who is struggling—in danger of losing their seat on the new bus.
- A priority list of next hires. Who (or what skills) do you need next, and why.
- Job descriptions—for everyone, but especially for new positions.
- Evaluation of your professional service providers. Many who helped you get started aren’t suited to where you are and where you’re going. Think accountants, attorneys, banks, outside advisors, IT suppliers, sub-contractors, and others.
- A business plan. Simple at first, maybe only for the next year. There are dozens of templates and outlines available for this.
- A list of the information you’d like to have available in reports, but don’t.
It follows that once you start this process you will see much of what it will take to “mature” your company, because most of these things are things the larger company has that the smaller one doesn’t. The process will reveal what you have and much of what you need. That can lead to a list of initiatives to be worked on within your business plan. And talk to others in the business or ones like it, those who have been there, done that.
Someone once asked Wayne Gretzky what made him such a great hockey player. His answer was “I always try to skate where the puck is going to be.” Point taken, Wayne.
Bill Sharer, MBA, CTS, is a thirty-year veteran of consulting and training, twenty-five of it in the audio-visual industry. He has held sales executive positions in addition to owning and managing his on firms. Bill has completed hundreds of consulting assignments in sales, marketing, management, communications, and customer service, and has trained more than 15,000 people on four continents. He has designed and led two dozen InfoComm training programs and has been the featured speaker at scores of trade association and corporate events. He has served on the Professional Education and Training Committee for InfoComm, is a Senior Faculty Member at InfoComm University, and was Educator of the Year in 2003. A former Vistage Chair, Bill has done extensive work in training and coaching. He is on the Board of The Association for Quality in Audio-Visual Technology, Inc. (AQAV) and an outside Director of a Property and Casualty Insurance Carrier. His MBA is in Management and Marketing from Temple University and his A.B. in English from Dickinson College.