There’s a lot of good that has come from the past ways of doing things. We were able to make stuff at scale. We enjoyed an unprecedented amount of consumption in our lives. Unfortunately, we also adopted a mindset that is a liability in the present. We believed bigger meant better.
Growing a business in many business owners minds means having rows of offices and cubes. It may mean having the latest technologies, lots of people and square footage. This used to be a badge of accomplishment. I think it is a vestige of the past. It is a derivative indicator of well-being. Large overhead equals success. This is simply not true. Large overhead means having to work harder and harder just to feed the beast you’ve created.
When the business environment changes.
We have all seen it all too often, however. When change inevitably happens in an industry, the overhead becomes a liability instead of a boasting right. What happens if your orders shrink or the way you sold simply doesn’t work anymore? If you have a lot of headcount committed to those processes, you have to shed that overhead and It’s painful, not just on the people you shed but the people who stay as well.
A lot of businesses that suffer this cycle blindly rebuild with more square footage or people again when the business cycle changes. However, I think it’s a great opportunity to rethink how your business is built for growth. Overhead is not necessarily the answer. It may be comfort food, but it does not likely match to the realities of today’s markets.
The truth is that a person with a laptop and a phone is in business. They can compete against many businesses today. Look at the Telecoms industry, small single person businesses are competing with the likes of BT and Virgin etc, for your telecommunications requirements. They are able to offer the same level of service and the same quality of service but at a significant cost reduction to the main industry players, simply because they don’t have the overhead. So for a few hundred pounds and the willingness to work, there are many micropreneurs that have the tools to get it done.
Think Business Systems.
Growth today is about anticipating change and thinking systems. Your ability to maneuver is one of your greatest assets. Instead of blindly adding overhead, add systems. Such systems require thinking it through differently:
- Cloud systems instead of square footage, the google G-suit or Microsoft’s Cloud systems are great just to name two possibles. They permit remote working on the same document at the same time, making collaboration easy. Using Amazon AWS servers for storage or rack space again can make your business scalable. You’re able to scale up at the press of a button rather than having to buy expensive servers.
- Talent instead of employees. You need a task done, but why do you have to do it in house, why not use outside resources. V.A’s (Virtual Assistants) can pretty much do everything from your social media requirements to acting as your personal P.A.
- Collaboration instead of meetings. Who can you work with to help your business along in the right direction. Who already has your client or customer but doesn’t compete with you directly and can complement your offering. Use remote working tools to collaborate with these people rather than driving for an hour across town in the traffic, use skype or other remote conferencing tools.
- Subscriptions instead of sunk costs. There’s no need to buy that piece of software your business needs, subscribe and pay a low monthly fee instead. Everything from accounting software ( Quickbooks, FreeAgent etc) to Graphics packages (Canva.com) to CRM systems (OnepageCRM, Salesforce, Zoho) all offer a subscription model.
- Automation instead of blind follow-up. Let’s be honest we’re all fallible, and how often do you go to a sales meeting and forget to follow up. Or someone comes to see you and you never hear from them again. Using systems to keep in touch is really easy, from automated marketing systems such as getresponse or infusionsoft to simple programmed reminders is a sure way of making more sales.
The old way of adding overhead every time you need to tackle something new is a mindset that takes security in substance. We like having headcount just in case. We like the shiny new technology to make us feel smarter. If you think systems rather than overhead, growth can happen faster because you are unencumbered and able to move when opportunities cross your path.
Systems and how they can help accelerate your growth is just one of the topics we’ll discuss on the Business Success Academy. The Business Success Academy is 8 weeks of business learning all designed to accelerate your growth and help you move your business in the direction that you want it to go.