9/25/2015 | Brandt Handley

 

For middle market businesses, complacency isn’t an option. Essentially, you grow or you die. The question, though, is, how do you grow? And the answer is scalability. The money you spend to grow your business must be less than the resulting increased revenue. In essence, if you spend $1 million to increase your revenue by $500,000, you’re going to have a serious problem. On the other hand, if you spend $1 million to increase your revenue by $2 million, you’ve made a great investment.

Mr. Brian Dawson, founder of the Smart Goals Project, and an ROI Strategic Alliance Partner, specializes in helping companies achieve scalable growth. He’s worked with enough businesses to know that obstacles to growth typically fall into one of three categories: people, processes, or products. According to Brian, the key to achieving scalable growth is identifying which of these categories include your main obstacles, so that you can spend your money where it counts.

  1. People: Just as middle market companies need people with different skill sets than startups do, companies with $50 million in revenue need different skill sets than companies with $25 million. Whereas a company may have initially needed a CEO with hands-on industry experience, a rapidly expanding middle market company might instead need a CEO who knows how to talk to investors and has contacts on Wall Street. The key here is to identify any missing skill sets and then to recruit people who have them.
  2. Processes: Similarly, the specific processes that work well for a small company will no longer be adequate as you grow. Often, small companies have one person who acts as the resident guru for a particular business process, and things come to a screeching halt when that person isn’t available. Additionally, there can be a bottleneck in production if the volume of tasks involving a particular process becomes too high for one person to handle. They key here is to find and fix processes that need to change.
  3. Products: Another option for growth is to increase either your product line or the market segment to which you sell that product. If customers are consistently asking for a product you don’t have, product development might be the right place to invest funds. If you get a lot of requests from customers in markets you don’t serve, geographic market growth might be your best option.

Successful middle market companies operate in fundamentally different ways than startups do. If you’re at that place in your business cycle where you’re stuck—you want to grow, but you either can’t afford it or can’t handle the extra work—follow Dawson’s advice and identify your biggest obstacles. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to prioritize your spending so that you can achieve scalable, sustainable growth.

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