Accounting and Business Consulting

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Keep prospecting throughout the value chain

Value_Chain_Prospecting


Founders often intend for their businesses to be bigger than them.

What do I mean by that? Well, simply that if you are a founder then your business should profitably deliver goods or services to more customers than you can personally access at any one time.

It takes growth to get to this point but once there you should be devoting more time to directing the resources that do the work or make the products than you are to directly delivering these outputs yourself.

At this stage, the company should operate like a powerful machine that augments your ability to deliver revenue and returns. A mere decision by you will set in train the actions of an extended pool of resource and significantly enhance the earnings of the business.

Your time will be one of the business’s most precious commodities you will by almost physically aware of how valuable it is.

If this is not the case, then it may be that your potential is being snowed-in by a blizzard of administrative tasks that drain your energies away from where they will make the biggest difference. Your firm’s progress will have started to stutter, and you will start to wish you had more resources.

The obvious response to this is for you to expand the technical resource of your business’s value chain – obtaining more resource for Finance, IT, Procurement, etc.

Getting the right partners and providers in these fields may not be easy to do. Why? Any the following reasons may hold:

  • It can be expensive to get resources for these types of services;
  • It can be difficult to manage the work of people in one of these fields if you know little about it;
  • It can be difficult to set objectives and deliverables for these departments when you do not know what is possible or how to assess the level of skills available.

So if you have invested in the administrative functions of your firm and yet progress still seems to have plateaued or fallen short of expectations, ask yourself how you can inject growth:

  • Should you test the effect that new skills, experience and ideas would have?
  • Would a fresh approach in some area open up new opportunities?
  • Is there a performance gap which needs to be addressed?

There are some low risk ways to help decide how much accessing resource could help you. For instance, you could isolate a small piece of work and invite external consultants to tender for it. Most consultants and firms are happy to undertake a project with a narrow specification and limited budget if it enables them to make a business contact and to possibly build a relationship for further work down the line.

If you are uncertain as to what types of narrowly-defined one-off projects to explore, you may want to just pick up the phone to a firm and ask them what kind of short term business consulting work they provide and what they might suggest for a firm with the characteristics of your business (e.g. a fashion sector business with its own supply chain selling internationally to wholesale and consumer clients, with its own retail outlet and an online shop).

In all likelihood, a short term piece of work of a few hours or days will produce only a high level output in the form of either meeting and minutes or a PowerPoint pack with recommended next steps, although it may be possible to capture considerable additional value with not too much more outlay for conceptual tools such as financial models.

But be sincere in your intent to engage the prospective business partner on a real project - unscrupulous ‘clients’ who advertise fake tenders with no real intent of hiring and are only fishing for ideas will destroy any possibility of such relationships developing.

Your existing accountant may be a good port of call to get more ideas on who to approach or what requirement to set. Alternatively, email us with a high level outline of your firm and your query and we will be happy to give you more detail on the sorts of consultancy services we provide might be helpful to your business.

Prospecting for ideas to deliver growth opportunities by asking around with consultancies is a natural and smart thing to do; you will not be putting yourself under any obligation by doing so and most consultancies will be happy to provide a brief response without subjecting you to a hard sell.

So use this avenue to build your business – to cut yourself off from opportunity by not undertaking such prospecting is to do yourself and your firm a disservice.