Business North West 2011

Growing for Gold. That’s what I entitled a talk I gave at the Business North West fair in Manchester today to an audience of small businesses.  Examining three key areas of growing a small business to large, I made these points: -

Growing Pains – Things you’ll experience as your business grows.

  • Feeling less connected with the breathing heart of the business.
  • You’ll feel a bit out of control.  As you will realise you can’t do everything.
  • You’ll spend more time in meetings.
  • You’ll spend more time on people issues.
  • You have to bring in managers to run areas for you (and by default spend more time managing them).
  • You spend your time avoiding calls of people trying to sell you stuff.
  • Life gets lonelier.  You’re not part of the team anymore.  You’re the big boss.

Things that Big Companies do well that small businesses can learn from

  • They’re on the numbers. They always have a budget, 3 year plan and cashflow forecast.
  • They make their processes slick, with as little human intervention as possible.
  • They have a good plan A, but always have a plan B.
  • They fail fast. If things aren’t going well, they don’t get wedded to an idea.
  • They spend more time in the future. Looking at future markets, products and growth areas.

Transitioning from Management to Leadership

I ran through ten things from a previous post I’d written around leadership.  You can view it here and some tips to make you a better leader.

An interesting conversation came from the audience.  “What’s your motivation for giving this talk today?” – excellent.  Answer = My day job is creating market space for us to sell our products to SME’s.  It’s in my interest to see small businesss grow.  By growing, we get to sell more products to them (plus I enjoy the public speaking).

At the end of today’s talk, I spent about an hour talking to small business owners about various challenges, problems and opportunities that are on their desks right now.  It’s clear, that there are plenty of businesses with big ideas, ambition and the metal to get on with it.  Good for them.