26 Jul Investing in the Growth of Your Company
I recently had a conversation with my brother-in-law, a software developer who leads his own consulting firm. He has been in business for 13 years now and has successfully grown his operation to north of 20 employees. He has an amazingly talented staff and team of partners, and they have been holding steady for the past couple of years. They consistently deliver high quality products and service to their clients, and are regularly awarded new contracts and contract extensions with existing clients. He and his partners have a desire to grow and expand, adding new and more diverse clients, but they have one major hurdle to overcome – they are GREAT software developers, not great business developers. Mike and his partners got into business because of their passion for the technical elements of the profession, and that passion and expertise has led them to great things thus far, but they have now hit a plateau when it comes to growth.
If so, this is because this same scenario is one that is frequented by many civil engineering entrepreneurs who start their own consulting practices.
As we discussed his situation, he came to the realization that he either needs to identify someone in his organization who carries with them the traits to be successful in sales and business development, or invest in the growth of his business by hiring an outsider with experience in selling software consulting services. In any case, he has realized that he is going to have to step outside his level of comfort, and invest in his company in a different way than he has been accustomed to in the past.
I have worked with numerous civil engineering clients over the years who have been in the same boat. They experienced initial success, but until they made the commitment to bring in one or two professionals who could lend a hand when it comes to sales and business development, they remained static. The initial investment in the human capital required to advance their companies to new levels may have been a hard pill to swallow, but with a vision and plan in place, the actual execution of the plan, and a heavy dose of patience, they were able to breakthrough and reach new levels of success!
I have a client right now that I am working with, and ENR Top 200 firm, that has more-or-less captured as much of the market they can in their current locations. In order to grow, they are now expanding into a new city in a new state. The cost of conducting the necessary due diligence, and then investing in the right person/people, and then having to wait 12-24 months before they begin to see any sort of ROI might scare most people, but with the plan they have in place they are willing to accept the short-term setback in exchange for the longtime success.
I recently worked with a DBE firm that had one office in the Phoenix, AZ area. The company president knew he wanted to expand beyond the borders of Arizona, and over the course of the past 12 months he had been conducting research, meeting with peers, and traveling to Texas to meet with potential clients and teaming partners. After evaluating all the information he had accumulated he was in a position to open up shop in Texas. He understood that he would be investing in salary, benefits, office space, office equipment, etc, and that the fruits of the labor involved in starting up an office from scratch would likely take a good 18-24 months to be realized. Sure there is some risk involved, but he would end up kicking himself in the ass if he did not make this attempt to grow and expand his business in a new market that he had become extremely passionate about.
If you are a civil engineering company executive or owner and you desire growth, at some point you are going to have to make a fairly decent investment in order to take your business to the next level…a step that will be outside of your comfort zone. You may fail once or twice, but that’s okay, as often times you must learn from your failures in order to understand what it actually takes to succeed!
I invite you to share your growth experiences below…what worked, what failed, what you would do differently…our readers would greatly appreciate it!