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Growth

10 Steps to Improve and Grow Your Business

Part 1 of 2: Gaining Clarity & Checking Team Alignment

By Tony Fareed, 360accel and Bridge Global Capital Group

Growth is Easier Said Than Done

Over the past three decades, I’ve worked within and with a wide variety of companies to drive business performance improvements and growth acceleration. Regardless of the size, stage, or type of organization, the most common challenge remains, “I’m too busy working in the business to work on the business.”

There are those who think their businesses are running perfectly and don’t need to improve or grow. Maybe they’re right, but this type of thinking goes against my guiding principles. For those of us who recognize the importance of change through improvements and growth, success typically boils down to commitment, prioritization, focus, discipline, action, and leadership. It’s always easier said than done.

Relevant Success Story

When it comes to focus and action, one of my favorite clients is a leading niche provider of live event production and network broadcast solutions. They provide end-to-end audio, video and data solutions to broadcasters of high-profile live events, such as the Super Bowl, US Open, Tony Awards, etc.

In 2017, the CEO began exploring ways to incorporate new technologies into their solutions. He identified a tremendous market opportunity, especially around two specific technologies that were emerging in the market. This strategic thinking refreshed his vision of the company in a rapidly evolving marketplace and was the catalyst for making business improvements and accelerating growth throughout 2018 to now.

His leadership forced discipline and action throughout the entire organization. Behind the scenes, my team assisted with the methodical facilitation of our 10-step growth program. The company has benefited from making performance, organizational and operational improvements; developing new high-margin solutions using new technologies; and divesting from a joint venture that provided limited strategic value. Their efforts have already resulted in an increased and diversified customer base and a 20% increase in EBITDA margins.

 A Roadmap to Get Going

If you want to take steps to improve and grow your business, here’s an achievable 10-step express solution. However, you must be willing to commit at least 3 hours a week for 10 weeks and get some of your key team members involved.

Like anything, it will take ongoing commitment to achieve results. It’s best to focus on making incremental progress, and “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Once you cycle through the process, you will likely begin incorporating the steps into your normal business routines.

While it’s ideal to have someone independent to help facilitate the process and hold you accountable, you will be able to achieve meaningful results on your own if you stay disciplined. Just keep focused on making progress, not perfection.

Part 1:

Gaining Clarity & Checking Team Alignment

1. Perform 360º Business Self-Assessment

2. Analyze Your Data

3. Analyze Your Market & Competition

4. Refresh / Validate Vision

5. Check Team Alignment

Part 2:

Exploring Opportunities & Taking Action

6. Explore Business Improvements

7. Explore Growth Opportunities

8. Make Decisions & Recalibrate Strategy

9. Reallocate & Secure New Capabilities

10. Communicate, Take Action & Drive Results!

 

  1. Perform 360º Business Self-Assessment

Self-assessments allow for honest self-reflection. Every time you self-assess, you become more empowered with deeper insights. You can easily build a customized self-assessment questionnaire covering 30 to 50 key business criteria.

Email me and I will send you our basic self-assessment template, which will fast-track getting started. https://360accel.com/contact/

  1. Analyze Your Data

If you already perform periodic reviews of data analytics, you are ahead of the game. You have a treasure trove of data in your operating systems (general ledger, ERP, CRM, etc.) and marketing platforms.  Are you putting your data to work?

List the meaningful data and reports that are readily available. Determine the most relevant 15 to 20 key performance indicators (KPIs) covering financial performance, operations, production, sales, and marketing. Your CPA can likely give you guidance on relevant KPIs.  Also, quick Google searches can provide many additional KPIs.

Consider comparing individual KPIs over time to identify potential trends or anomalies. After you crunch and analyze the numbers, summarize your conclusions for each KPI. Eventually, you can turn your data assets into a competitive advantage and tools for making ongoing strategic decisions.

  1. Analyze Your Market & Competition

You may rely on your team to perform periodic market research. I suggest you also do your own research. Drill down on the competition, market trends, and new emerging technologies and business models that may positively or negatively impact your business. Connect with knowledgeable people within your industry to pick their brains and strengthen your network.  

Summarize your conclusions (the good, the bad, and the ugly) on the market and your company’s current and expected future market positioning.

  1. Refresh / Validate Vision

After thinking through your conclusions from steps 1 – 3 above, ask yourself whether you’re on the right track. Restate the company’s vision, which will force you to either refresh or validate your broader view of the business. It will also present you with a refined focus on direction.

  1. Check Team Alignment

Now that you have more clarity, it’s time to bring in your inner circle. Select a small group of individuals from your team who you rely on, trust, respect, and who will challenge you. Ask each of them to independently complete the self-assessment questionnaire.

Get the group together to discuss the results of the self-assessments with a goal to align on areas of misalignment. Share your views on vision and conclusions on the KPI and market analyses. This should spark valuable discussions and diverse perspectives. It’s imperative to listen, stay open-minded, digest feedback, and keep all discussions collaborative. Ultimately, you will need your entire team fully aligned to successfully improve and grow. This inner circle is a great place to start.

Stay tuned for “Part 2: Exploring Opportunities & Taking Action.”

 

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Schatz Bearing Corporation: Small Parts, High Stakes

When people think of industrial manufacturing, often times gigantic heavy-duty equipment comes to mind. The truth is, many companies are tasked with building small parts designed to be used in everything from commercial equipment to classified defense projects. Within the city of Poughkeepsie, lies the headquarters of Schatz Bearing Corporation. This company has been around in the Hudson Valley since 1910 and has evolved greatly to meet the needs of the 21st century manufacturing sector. Schatz Bearing Corporation was primarily focused on the automotive industry, providing them with ball bearings designed for cars.

Today, the company caters to aerospace and defense companies which require highly precise parts made from quality metals. Company President, Stephen Pomeroy had mentioned to HV MFG that innovation, customer service, and teamwork have played crucial parts in paving the pathway towards success. However, Schatz Bearing Corporation went through a complete overhaul to get to where it is today. During the 70’s, the company had to deal with turbulent years of layoffs and labor strikes. In addition to that, the decline in the American automotive industry caused work to be sent overseas to reduce operating costs eventually resulting in Schatz (then known as Schatz-Federal) to file for bankruptcy. In 1981, the company closed its doors until the name and equipment were purchased from a liquidator. The company name was changed to Schatz Bearing Corporation and was eventually bought by the Pomeroy family in 1985.

Stephen Pomeroy began working for the company in 1989 and switched focus towards quality instead of quantity. Schatz knew it could not complete with the low-cost competitors in other countries like China. So, the company focused on producing ball bearings that require a sophisticated level of engineering. Aerospace companies like Boeing and Airbus need parts that can withstand the demands of commercial aircraft while ensuring they will not fail. In order to make sure the products meet the standards of their customers; Schatz produces ball bearings in smaller volumes to guarantee quality will not be sacrificed in addition to streamlining the production line to cut down on time needed to fill orders. Plant Manager, Bob Lanser explained that machine setup’s that could take up to 8 hours have been reduced to just 30 minutes. Utilizing this model, has developed trust between Schatz Bearing Corporation and its customers who know the company is up to the challenge.

In order to produce quality products, Schatz Bearing Corporation seeks out qualified employees to work at their plant. Competitive wages and an in-depth training program give Schatz an advantage that candidates are attracted to. The company also focuses on developing a positive work culture to reduce turnover which can cause instability. Schatz Bearing Corporation is a great example of how focusing on quality products, listening to customers needs, and focusing on a positive work culture lead to company growth and help overcome obstacles.

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NAM Outlook Survey Results Show Record Breaking Optimism in 2018

 

For the last 20 years the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has conducted the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey with the help of their over 14,000 large and small manufacturing members. The survey is conducted once a quarter to gain insight on manufacturers’ economic outlook, hiring and investment decisions, and business concerns. This year manufacturers reported record breaking optimism.

In the fourth quarter of 2018 there were 539 manufacturing companies who responded to the survey, which was conducted from November 28th to December 12th. The amount of responses from small, medium and large sized manufactures was nearly even, with a slight majority coming from medium sized companies.

The average percentage of respondents that were positive about their own company’s outlook was 92.4% in 2018, an all-time high. Manufacturers are also predicting positive growth rates in sales (4.3 percent), production (4.3 percent), capital investments (2.6 percent) and full-time employment (2.2 percent) over the next 12 months. Manufacturers are very optimistic about business conditions overall, which is likely influenced by their expectation of pro-growth policies like tax reform and regulatory certainty. You can view the full survey results here.

It was no surprise that the major concern of manufacturers was the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce. In the fourth quarter 68.2 percent of companies reported that this was their top concern. Other top concerns included the increasing cost of raw materials and trade uncertainties. According to government data there are now 522,000 open manufacturing jobs in America, which some manufacturers reported as the reason for turning down new business opportunities this year.

If this workforce crisis isn’t resolved the United States is on track to have as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2028. This challenge will continue to have an impact on manufacturing companies in the years to come. For now we are optimistically looking forward to 2019 and all of the growth that is to come.

Read the full article here.

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New York Manufactures Forecast Continued Growth

Federal Reserve

Each month the Federal Reserve Bank of New York distributes the Empire State Manufacturing Survey to about 200 manufacturing companies throughout New York State to analyze industry performance. Around 100 of the 200 companies contacted complete the questionnaire, which asks them to report on specific performance indicators and offer their projections for the upcoming months. The respondents are from diverse sectors of the manufacturing industry, providing an unbiased and accurate pool of feedback. Since the start of 2016 these surveys have generated consistently positive results.

The July 2018 results indicate that business activity continues to grow at a steady pace throughout the state. Labor market indicators point to sturdy growth, and the prices received index signals continued moderate increases in selling prices. The headline general business conditions index also still remains at a high level. These results are promising, and the positive forecasts coming from these companies suggest that robust growth is likely in store for the near future.

You can see the full report with survey results here.

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