It’s almost ironic that the organizations that really need business strategy consulting are inherently the ones that tend to reject third party intervention. Large and mid-sized corporations employ a number of consultants to facilitate various programs. Yet, it is the very small concerns that typically require more help than they are usually willing to believe.
You’ve probably seen energetic and positive-thinking folks start a business with only a weak idea of where they’re going with it. Meg Childs is one of those folks. She began a cafe in the surrounding area of a major metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest. Most of her friends thought she was cray at first, when she began her business, because the famous Starbucks was opening a new store somewhere on the planet every thirty minutes at the time.
But Meg was never daunted. As a single mother and a trained butcher, she had a dream! She wanted to retire early and travel for the rest of her life. And she was lucky! Meg found the niches that even the likes of the Starbucks’ marketing smarties hadn’t found. She invested her money and spirit into the entire process full throttle. Her business focused on filling the caffeinated gaps at concerts, sporting events and several large area hospitals.
For more than a decade she was successful enough to gross into the high six figure range every year. She spent her draw on a million dollar house, bought into vacation clubs and took exotic vacations every year with her family. After a dozen or so years, Meg was exhausted. Her goal starting out was to build up the business and sell it for a profit. Even though she had invested wisely in real estate, she never invested in a sound branding strategy. Her operational plan was non-existent and even after fifteen years she had no clue what her business was worth or what her annual revenue at any location was without researching it. Poor Meg!
Every small business owner can benefit from having a professional help facilitate their strategy at the onset and during regular quarterly or semi-annual checkups. Why is it that business owners who will see a doctor if they feel ill, hardly ever seek out ‘medical care’ for their dying business. Far too often it is only their ego that gets in the way.
Hiring professional strategic or tactic planning help is only the first step. Even among those small businesses that take the first step and actually bring someone in, only a very small fraction will really step up to the plate and employ recommended process improvements. Again, many a small business owner overly identifies their own persona with their business. But in reality, business is (as they say) “business” and it must be run like a business or fail trying.
No wonder nobody wanted to buy her business. When coffee wasn’t moving fast enough, she sold popcorn and kept the name of the coffee business as the trademark for her popcorn shop. When popcorn wasn’t bringing in enough revenue she sold hot dogs. All the while keeping the company name and branding as “Java Time”. When people got tired of hot dogs she sold Smoothies. And on it went! Meg’s operational tactics were based on her lack of education, experience and branding. The business suffered as did her dream.
Remember that old saying: “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink”?. Employing business strategy consulting is simply the first step toward making a business thrive. Even the best consultant in the world cannot make a small business owner successful. But a small business has a much better chance of growing and prospering into the future with a little help from the outside. So don’t be ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ when it comes to making decisions for the direction and future of your small business