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Breaking News: You’re No Longer a Small Shop

(May 2014) posted on Wed May 07, 2014

What you might experience as you’re making the transition to a big business, and how to identify some ideas that will help along the way.

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By Marty McGhie

That is, until one day, when you realize that you actually don’t – and can’t – know everything.
So how do you know when your company is no longer a small business? There are probably two different scenarios here. The first could be described as a “reactive” situation. You begin to see problems cropping up in your business that you never saw before. These might be quality issues with products. Maybe it’s a problem with shipments missing deadlines or even personnel issues that you never seemed to have before. Even more dramatic might be losing a great customer to a competitor – and it takes you completely by surprise. In other words, you realize that your company has changed on you, and you’re only now realizing that you haven’t changed with it.

A better situation would be a “proactive” one, which entails you initiating a forward-thinking plan of action. You devise a strategy that requires you to examine the areas of the business that will suffer as your business continues to grow.

For example, if you are strong in managing the sales side of your company, then it’s likely that the production side will struggle. Perhaps you realize that virtually every decision at every level is being passed up to you? Or if you find yourself out on the floor most of the day managing the production side of the business, then you might not be paying enough attention to sales as your customer base grows and requires more attention. The idea here is an obvious one: Try to determine the areas where you need help before major problems occur.

Managing your growth
Once you come to the conclusion that you do indeed need additional resources to manage your growth, you’ll then need to focus upon two areas: processes and people.

From a process standpoint, as you grow you’ll absolutely need to develop more processes to manage the jobs and the workflow in your shop, whatever your product may be. When you can no longer manage every job that runs through the shop, you’ll need to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) – ensuring your people are trained on these SOPs and follow them.