It never ceases to amaze us that there is such a great diversity of business opportunities in our region. The key to the creation of these opportunities is business owners challenging all aspects of their marketplace and business and deciding to do it differently.
Each quarter, we have been running workshops for businesses who are seeking to make and monitor significant changes in their business. This quarterly review process has allowed them to be challenged and has created a real drive and thirst for new ideas and initiatives.
There are five stages in a business’ life cycle: establishment, consolidation, growth, stabilization, sale and closure. The objective of growth has been the motivator for these business people to change and expand their business. It has not been growth for growth’s sake but the need to address the question “what will add greatest value to both the company and our customers?”
The important catalyst for creating the motivation has been the ability to confront the brutal facts about the business. For some it has been the recognition that they have not been getting the returns or value they desire because of the limited size of their existing markets. They have identified that there will not be any significant return or security from the business unless they continue to grow and diversify.
There is also the acceptance that to achieve the growth there is a need to significantly change the responsibilities of the owner with increased focus in the areas of planning, marketing, management and personnel management. The owners have delegated much of their operational and customer service roles.
The process starts from the business looking outside the boundaries and examining the marketplace in a broader context than its existing environment. They have discovered major gaps in the products and services available in the market place. They have brought new technology and new service levels that have exceeded the expectations of the marketplace.
In all cases, the business owners have been amazed by the response from customers in these new areas. Clearly, customers are looking for businesses that are trying to differentiate themselves and are prepared to adjust the business to meet the demands of customers.
If I could identify two key factors in their success, it has been the recognition of the role of marketing in their business to position them to their target customers. The second has been their ability to establish a team of employees and advisors who provide the support, counsel and ideas to enable the owner to drive the business towards the new objectives.