This blog originally published in Printing Impressions
Which is better, the business you have today or the business you think you want in the future – a challenging question for any business leader. It’s not an easy question to answer and it’s generally not answered with a simple yes, or no. Many companies got to where they are by carefully following their strategy and flawless execution. Others got there by responding to client opportunities and taking advantage of growth opportunities as they came down the pike. Some got there by a combination of the above. There’s no wrong answer as to how you got to where you are today, the difficult questions circle around whether you are happy with where you are, are the methods you used to get there repeatable, and are the opportunities for growth similar to what they were in the past, or have they changed?
Where do you make money today, how are you unique, and what do your clients value in you? The answers to these first questions can become the basis for how to leverage the advantages that you’ve worked hard to build into future growth. There are several ways to slice the where do you make money question. You can review profitability at the job level, the departmental level, by product, by client, or by your monthly profit and loss statement. All of these views are important, and I won’t get into details here, but safe to say that some more important than others.
How do you stand out in a crowd and why do your clients keep coming back? The more that you know the real answers to these questions, the more you can focus your efforts on the areas that matter to your clients. When looking at these questions, remember that there are reasons that clients stay with you and those are important to understand. However, the reasons someone might actually change their buying preference and become a new client for you might be very different from why they stay. Last thing on this area, we all have our own perceptions of why clients join us and stay, and how we differ in a crowed marketplace. It doesn’t really matter though what we think, what matters is what do your clients think, and why are they making the choices they make. What to find out? Ask them.
Plan for Tomorrow
After getting a good understanding of where you are today, how you make money, and why clients come to you and stay, now it’s time to ask the next question – do you like the results that you see? If you’re looking to change the trajectory of your business, how will you do it? There’s a couple options available to you. You can change the entire portfolio of business but that comes with a great deal of distraction and a high level risk. Another tactic is to keep what’s working and integrate a secondary, or dual strategy to your efforts. This too comes with its own set of risks and distractions, but far less than a complete changeover. This is similar to when commercial offset printers added digital printing. The difference is that some firms really integrated it into their business model and others simply viewed it as a short run printing device. Two different strategies, two different outcomes. The third approach is to keep things as they are and let the market identify the opportunities you should reach for. As is everything in life, it’s all about making a choice, and as long as the business is healthy, you get to decide. If the business isn’t as healthy as it should be, then often others will decide for you.
Action Plan – Now What?
Making changes to your business requires you to determine who sits where, what skill sets will they need, and what their mission will be. The answers and action plan for this undertaking should come from your business strategy planning. What new or expanded markets will you be tackling, who will be doing the work (someone new or a re-deployment), what resources will they need, and how will you gauge your progress and overall success. Creating the realistic benchmarks and KPI’s for these efforts are key to staying on track. Without a plan that everyone has bought into and understands, you’ll be subject to the day to day shiny objects in the room. Good luck with this review and let me know how you’re doing with it.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at email@example.com.