Friday, October 5, 2007/
Stalled growth is common for entrepreneurs. There are a couple of decisions you have to make to get to the ‘next level’.
Growing companies generally have their origin in the entrepreneurial skills of their founder or founders. They convert their idea into a product of appeal and then use their networking skills to bring the product to the market.
Not infrequently, the growth stalls and the entrepreneurial founders struggle to maintain the momentum of growth. What has happened is that the business has reached a critical stage in its development. The founders complain that they are busier and working harder than ever, but just can’t seem to get the business to the “next level”.
In this situation, the founders have to face up to the fact that as in any other aspect of life, they have two choices. They can do nothing or they can do something. The “something” is obviously the way to go, but “what?”.
In all probability, the founders have reached their own entrepreneurial limits. There is a limit to the number of people they can network in a given time. In building their business they have probably built a great network both internally and externally with the result that the demands upon their time to service the network they have created has reached saturation point.
If they have not brought on other entrepreneurs in the company but merely developed competent technicians, then growth as a result of their own efforts is going to be difficult. They simply do not have the time to extend their network.
This is where it is necessary to decide whether to continue to be an entrepreneurial business or to introduce other techniques for growth. The answer is quite simple, but successful entrepreneurs find it difficult to accept. If the business has not grown another crop of entrepreneurs who can go out and develop their own network, the options are to secure people with this ability or to develop a marketing arm to the business.
One of the risks of growing by bringing more entrepreneurs into play is that entrepreneurial businesses tend to become personal, with the result that each additional entrepreneur develops their own business within the business. In the end, the risk is that you have a whole series of businesses that are dependent to a certain extent on individuals. If they get run over by a bus, get sick or decide to set up their own business, a lot of their good goes with them.
This is not to suggest that entrepreneurial growth should be avoided; it is merely to make the point that there are risks that have to be taken into account when deciding on this strategy.
The alternative is to develop a marketing arm that becomes responsible for creating a value proposition that is not dependent upon any one individual but represents the competitive advantage of the organisation.
Rather than any one individual having the responsibility to grow the business it becomes an overall corporate responsibility. If a hot shot “rain maker” decides to take his or her chances outside the business, the damage will not be great because you have in place another mechanism for constantly placing your value proposition in the appropriate market.
In shifting to a market-oriented rather than an entrepreneurial-based business, you will have in place an efficient mechanism for integrating your business, reading markets, honing you value proposition and reaching customers and market segments that would otherwise be beyond your resources.
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