Planning for Growth: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

With the exception of the top 50 (AMA/Gold 50) -Research organizations depend upon a handful of clients for majority of their revenues. The other phrases I have heard business owners using -particularly over the last 7-8 years are- Feast or Famine, Peaks and Valleys, Our contact at a Large Corporate quit and joined elsewhere, I am planning my retirement/buy-out, We do a great job of keeping our clients but rely heavily on 2-4 large customers for the revenues, hired a senior associate for account acquisition and that was a bad decision.

As the year draws to a close; many research business owners are going back to the drawing board and asking themselves- Can we grow? This article will help you develop thoughts around whether  you are ready to grow.

Question 1- What if we decide to do Nothing to grow the business?
Look at the last 5 or better still,  10 years of your revenue. What patterns stand out? Did you have years where more than 75% of your revenues were driven by 1-2 clients? Most of our clients have client retention rates of 96% or above. So on one hand, this means you need to do nothing (for new clients)and everything will happen or be taken care of. On the other hand it means if something happens (there is no easy way to say it- A Client walks away) it will have repercussions. A business may be resilient to go through one of those repercussion years. That-Could be really expensive, eminently undesirable and avoidable, in equal measures. As business owners our responsibilities and obligation include building a business, creating jobs and adding incremental and continuous value to the economies.
Question 2- Is the sales/Account Management team available for building new business relationships ?
Market Research buyers are hard to reach out to. Mostly, they are “all set” and impervious to the targeted email and social media campaign. The prospects attend seminars and conferences to share and learn but really, what are the chances that you will end up meeting and having a meaningful conversation about your services when they need it? It is pretty much like being in the right place at the right time, many times to be successful.
 The point being (sorry got carried away)- It is a lot of work, complex and time consuming. Does someone in your team have the bandwidth for it?
Question 3-Are you willing to invest for growth?
Finding a net new hire to do business development could be expensive.
This one needs no detailing, factor in the cost of hiring, salaries, marketing expenses, learning curve, opportunity cost & Risk over 3 months and we are talking about US$ 25 K-50 K just to be in a position to START that operation setting targets.  There is another article in our blog that talks about what to take care of while hiring-you can read it by clicking here.
Other investments may include promotional expenses on publications, paid subscription to online tools and developing marketing collateral. There are “hacks” but in some form there will be an investment you will be making in order to acquire a new client.

Question 4:  Is this a scalable model- Does the business model or product offering need tweaks?

How much more can your organization deliver? Does the team have production capacity to spare? How many companies comprise of your target market? Can they afford what your marquee customers are paying? Boutique primary research firms are looking at ways to optimize project expenses and create agile product offerings specially targeted towards new clients. If your prospect list does not have a 100 Account Names or more, you will be needing to look at your service offerings again. It also helps to go back and draw a list of Industry Verticals served over the years.

Question 5: For the next five years:  Will you sell out or keep growing? Pick one.

Very often business owners lose sight of end goals. In fact, that is the single biggest reason that keeps the entire business from realizing their true potential. A business that wants to keep growing as a brand as a service provider needs to build a different sales and marketing foundation than ones that are best suited for being part of a larger/more diverse entity. Apples are not Oranges.

Also having one goal in mind and then choosing another at a later point will not break your business. Changing directions usually will make businesses more agile, resilient and develop newer capabilities. That said- Pick one Goal Only.

I promised myself to promote our business on blog only 5% vov so I am not going to write what I want to write. I really cant say more without promoting what it is that Aldius Consulting does for the MR ecosystem. Yes. I did it. I stopped. Anyway, I am hoping this article helps  you think from our perspective and explore what else you would like to accomplish in 2016.

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