by Jeffrey Kadlic, co-founder & managing partner of Evolution Capital Partners
Often consumed by the day to day, it is difficult for small business owners to find time to focus on the big picture and be truly forward thinking. But if you want to stay competitive, there are four questions entrepreneurs can constantly be asking themselves to set their organizations up for significant growth.
1. Is there a way to be more engaged with my customers?
Are you ignoring the “why?” If you think in terms of Simon Sinek’s Start with Why theory, your company’s potential and innovative ability may be unlimited – but only if you are able to build your business differently than most. Identify and build your business around your organization’s purpose and beliefs versus the products and services (or the “what” and “how”). If you are able to effectively communicate (not sell!) your purpose and beliefs, the “Why I do what I do,” customers who are drawn to you are drawn because they believe what you believe and agree with why you do what you do. Customers buy from you because they share your “beliefs” not because what you are selling. That deeper connection makes them more engaged customers.
2. Can I use technology to make my business more efficient?
At no point in history has technology been more affordable and accessible. It allows small organizations to appear much bigger than they really are and operate more efficiently too. This dynamic makes many more investment opportunities have higher ROI’s. Use technology to streamline processes at lower cost and develop “flywheels” that leverage the time and energy of the entrepreneur.
3. Is there an opportunity to tap into a new market segment due to a disruption?
Ask yourself regularly if there is something occurring in the marketplace that is changing the way the game is being played. As a small entity it is impossible to compete with the 800 pound gorilla in status quo mode, but you do have at least one advantage. As a small organization, you are more nimble than your larger competitors, giving you the advantage of adapting to disruption more quickly. The only caveat is you then need to have the ability (or time!) to be out in the marketplace on a regular basis with your eyes and ears wide open.
4. Is there a strategic or critical hire that should be made to enhance my company?
To state the obvious, time is one thing that we cannot make more of. Without more time, how can you focus on the first three questions posed here? You need to have the right people in the right seats to allow you the freedom to start working ON your business and not IN it. Making smart investments in people who free up your time AND are more qualified in their specialty than you, will create the biggest ROIs. Focusing on the 2 or 3 big levers to grow your business will return many fold the investment made in passionate and capable people.
Jeffrey Kadlic is the co-founder and managing partner of Evolution Capital Partners LLC, a small business private equity fund investing growth equity nationwide in Second Stage Companies. Evolution specializes in helping entrepreneurial businesses successfully navigate the critical transition through No Man’s Land by providing the capital, management, infrastructure and other resources necessary to leverage the time and energy of the business owner.