Every business as it evolves over time goes through growth and changes in the pursuit for bigger and better. Small business is exciting and watching it grow can be so satisfying and rewarding even though the hard work that goes in sometimes seems to be never ending just to keep things moving forward.
This is the same in all aspects of the business with a constant weighing up between investment vs return to maintain or grow. These decisions are often ones that keep small business owner awake at night determining which option is the best way forward.
Typically these will be such things as larger premises to expand or stay put, spend more on advertising and marketing to further the brand awareness and service offering, invest in more staff to deliver a great customer service and grow the capacity for delivery. Today these decision need to made quicker and with more commitment due to the ever changing market and customer fickleness. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to change your mindset and see yourself as agile and able to flex to deal with the turbulence in the market place.
The question that is raised here is how? How do you remain agile in a turbulent market? How do I commit to these changes that need to be made and feel confident that I will see a return in time to cover the outlay? Good questions, this starts with the management style and how you view your structure as well as how you transact today vs how should you transact in the future. Customer satisfaction is paramount to repeat business and successful growth irrespective of the industry type.
Agile management starts with the owners or directors and cascades down from there to the very last employee in the business. Agile management is being fluid and able to deal with change effectively and efficiently without being all things to everyone. You must remain focussed on your core business but it is the delivery of that core business that needs to be agile.
The front end being sales or business development is the easiest part to change because the team just needs to start saying “yes we can” but this needs to be support by a framework that allows the promises made to be delivered on. This then needs to work its way back from the point of sale to the commencement of the chain which is at the supplier side. This chain being the supply chain is to be reviewed to ensure agile principles are applied with lean methodologies to ensure efficiency is maximized and capability to manage constant change can be dealt with seamlessly so as the customer sees a completely unruffled supplier even if that’s not how it is in the engine room with all hands on deck.
Your suppliers will also become your advocates and want to drive you forward also as your success is ultimately their success. Utilizing methods to enhance the way they do business with you will have a flow on effect also and draw them closer to you as a supporter as well as a supplier.
Procurement is a fundamental element in the success of this supply chain being efficient and operating agilely. The consideration here is what does procurement mean for your company? How does it operate currently and how can it be improved to deliver that agility and efficiency which will then translate to the bottom line?
Well it starts will looking at your current market, who your clients are today and who you want them to be tomorrow. From here work back through to your suppliers and evaluate if you are buying right or if you feel it could be done better and add value coupled with cost reductions over time. An effective strategy needs to be support by a framework for delivery no different to the sales end accept in reverse. Once you have designed a lean and efficient supply chain that can be adapted in times of change then you will see the broadening of your customer base through adaptability and partnering when your client needs you most.
Then through the power of technology you can leverage your position even further to add more value and flexibility to retain clients for the long term through evolution and agile principles providing your client with the tools at their disposal to be able to engage with you and fulfill their requirement in the simplest possible way.
In summary business needs to grow and adapt to stay relevant. How do you do that? Through change and adoption of agile principles and lean methodologies to effectively drive out the inefficiencies and proactively cultivate a fluid environment of “can do” positiveness supported by effective frameworks for delivery and ongoing management. In an increasingly tough market you need to not scale back or remove good people, rather look at improving your efficiency and embrace technology to deliver real benefits that enable growth not restrict it.