In my normal weekend operations sourcing new clients for my business, I set up a few meetings with marketing leads for various organization’s and firms around Kakamega town. Pretty interesting discussions we had even though I did not manage to convert the leads into actual sales but it got me thinking about some of our discussions and this will be one of the topics I will be pushing into your spaces today. Please allow me to share something on business growth. We handle businesses and sole entrepreneurs , we mostly tend to forget that management and oversight as we are lost in the actual execution at most times. Time calls for all of us business owners to stop the daily operations and just observe the gaps presented to us for accurate decision making. The business could be doing well and with an influx of customers, we could be thinking that all we need to do is meet their needs but in the end we offer less customer experience and could drive away the many interested clients we do have.
Custom experience is vital in every business since it determines if there will be return clients or you would lose their loyalty to your competition. New age customers are hard to be loyal and if we as business owners take less time to study our business cycle, this would in the end affect us. One of my meetings was with one client Called Erick, who insisted that we talk over a cup of milkshake at VOVO restaurant next to Chandarana supermarket. He needed to see the Manchester derby match hence the reasons for us to meet at the joint. While we had these conversations, his workline could not stop ringing as his customers were calling in and for a moment I thought his business could be doing well. With my average rate of 5 client calls in a week on my business line to his own 2 in a minute, then he must be doing well, so I thought as I asked him to share his ways.
Erick gave me a background of his business. I quickly realized that while he is incharge of marketing, he is also a core owner in the business and many customers did have trust in his words other than the other partners and employees. He was a go-getter and would push his staff to get things done. He also had good social skills making it easier and approachable by even some of his staff who needed assistance. At some point he also said, “If I miss work for 3 days, these guys will struggle ” and thanked God for the many clients who were reaching out. He also Added… “John, we have grown big, from selling carpentry to gypsum, I have so many referrals and our shops has to open every day to serve these clients”.
And then this got me thinking, What if they are experiencing exponential growth and they can realize it. You know sometimes, as a business owner, you would be so bent on seeing success that when it finally comes, you can recognize it as you are still focusing on execution. The mistake I see with erick is the failure to recognize the business needs as they scale up. We continue taking execution risks rather than rethink value and consider partnerships on certain basic levels of execution. So how should Eric recognize the growth challenges? Growing too fast is a capacity problem and one has to see these signs early. The major two signs I was seeing from the conversation was that I felt probably His business is growing too fast, a possible employee burnout and then the acceleration in the number of complaints.
My two cents to this based on seven years of people and process management is that when your business is growing too fast, as a lead or an entrepreneur, you need to get additional individuals capable of meeting the new demands and can deal with the rate of the business growth… not just anybody. In most cases I have failed to recognise that and it has hurt my line of operations. I still see my current employer make the same mistakes. Eric’s mistake is that he has fewer staff hence the need to offer services till on weekends. I also feel that some skills he possesses that makes him sought after could be passed over to other employees, he has to trickle down some basic knowledge to his juniors and amplify their knowledge in the field.
There are other ways Eric and anyone feeling their business is growing fast can do to make sure they maintain the same level of customer experience even as they rake in more clients and grow or venture into new markets. First is to ride on technology to deliver better and at cheaper costs, i still feel there are untapped opportunities in technology. A job that could take a week takes less because we are using better machines for design and implementation. Secondly financial capital, we keep venturing into new markets due to a quest to serve more clients at times but the cost of operations outway the profit margin or could easily be on equilibrium. What we need to do is to see our possible financial strains and the returns expected from any new market. This will guide on the minimum viable order to consider as you scale to new markets, you know, the minimum threshold of a volume for the business to make sense to cover a fixed cost. I realized Eric was renovating a house in Kakamega and had to transport workers from Vihiga county to Kakamega every day, working on the costs and comparing with the contracts, he was making a subtle 2K profit, that is before tax by the way. I would have found an in-county partner from Kakamega to subcontract, if I was Eric. Sketchline Design Hub are the Best in the county and could have done the work much better, Partnership for profits will help manage the expansion into new markets. Hope you take vital learnings from this and improve your business as you get into new markets
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