Do you know what’s involved in resetting your small enterprise, especially when you, the leader, feel that everything is going just swell?
Successful small enterprises must remain nimble. Most small enterprises consider themselves to be smaller versions of big companies. Their business models re-create, on a mini scale, the legacy business models and systems of their customer base. Big company’s business models don’t shrink down very successfully, even if you are former employees who have gone out on your own and founded small enterprises and taken on a supplier/vendor role.
Take a page from startup mindset: never get too content or too comfortable with the status quo. Even in the most innovative manufacturing small enterprises and small businesses, there should always be a sense that things can be done better, more efficiently, more creatively.
The small enterprises and small businesses which will be there in the future are those companies which are constantly reinventing their past and current business models, attitudes, habits and practices.
Here are four tips to reset, recalibrate and realign small enterprises. Hit the button daily, monthly, quarterly and annually. Follow the 16 tools and tips at the end of each chapter of my book, Do YOU Mean Business?, for strategies to keep your forward momentum.
1. Get out of your office. You’ve delegated. Everyone reports to you. You’ve got big data. You’ve got small data. That’s quantitative. There’s the qualitative stuff you are overlooking: how all that data looks, feels and sounds on the shop floor level or in the marketplace. If you think your marketing efforts understand this aspect, guess again. Are they selecting the information that best justifies your strategic position? Time to separate fantasy from reality.
2. Get out of what’s familiar. You surround yourself with a homogeneous mix of colleagues. You all drink from the same pitcher of Kool-Aid® but you are in denial that you are doing so. Even when you engage in those off-site, team-building meetings, you reinforce your homogeneity. Instead of an offsite retreat, take your team to a soup kitchen or counsel at a local prison. More of a “and now for something completely different.” Get a handle on your humanity in the process. Besides, you may decide to employ some of the folks you meet in the process.
3. Talk with your internal customers. The folks running the lines see things differently than you do. Some of them don’t speak English as their first language, but their children do. How can you expect them to buy into your vision when you aren’t aligned with theirs? If you want to get a solid jolt on what your company’s throughput looks like, spend a day on the line with your folks. Their common sense worldview may be just what you and your executive team needs to make simple, yet pivotal, changes.
4. Talk with your non-customers. Not former customers. Talk with the folks who have never chosen to be your customers. They didn’t walk away from your business because someone screwed up. Your company simply is not in their game plan at all. Find out why. Their answers may provide you with insights on how to fill marketplace gaps with small, but significant, improvements and innovations. These non-customers may not be buying what you make right now. Your non-customers can become your future customers. Find out what that future looks and sounds like.
Let me know how it goes.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes collaborative business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, small and midmarket manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? was named one of the Top Sales and Marketing Books, 2012.