Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2016! Although expanding your connections on linkedin is a great way to gain exposure, it’s important to know who you are connected with. So I’d like to share with you a summary of our year in business as a small consulting company forced to make choices that satisfy the needs of today without faulting our foundation for tomorrow. There are many rules, wisdoms, and lessons for what you are supposed to do. However it is the difference between knowing and doing that leads to success. This is meant to inspire thought as a real life, in-action account.
We are a small business and it’s important to keep our foot on the gas. Revenue growth percentages don’t really say much, but we had a record year, growing revenue by 344%. What is telling about this number is that 82% comes from existing customers. As providers of talent (80% for IT projects and 20% permanent employees) we are in a very crowded and competitive field. In many ways our business falls under the, what have you done for me lately category of service. Well, here are some additional facts about how we were able to remain relevant and what it cost us to achieve this.
It’s easier to get an ‘A’ than to keep an ‘A’
Expanding our client base remains in focus and is important for survival. Nurturing our clients is the key to sustainability and the bulk of our investments to improve our offering are focused here. Did we make the right choice?
92% of new customers gave us additional business beyond our first engagement. We have multiple active engagements with existing customers. 52% of previous, longer-term customers made new introductions to internal colleagues who need our service but have utilized a competitor.
We scored new clients in new markets and experienced new challenges. There’s only so much in your control and what do you do when things fall outside of the lines? It’s like when a person falls and you’re there to help them on their feet, dust them off, and ease them back on track. But what if you were there to catch them, they avoid falling, and continue on without really missing a beat? Don’t wait for blame to fall, grab a hold of the situation and provide a solution that would have been welcomed at any stage of the engagement. We were several weeks in with solid feedback and then came that odd phone call you only expect to happen in the movies. Living by our own advice, we saved it and successfully executed on an additional initiative they let us compete for. Letting the good times roll is one thing, but a true mark of character is how you behave when things get ugly.
Make sure you always get your money’s worth
Internal expenditures were up with the largest increase (42%) from fixed costs, revenue was up 344%, but what about profitability? We’re in a price conscious market and there’s always someone who says they can do it for less. We never want price to be the sole factor in any decision and thus focus on opportunities in which we can deliver maximum value. If we are only as good as our last deal, then we want that mark of distinction to be one of quality and integrity.
Internal expenditures were primarily related to sales and service. Our ROS (return on sales) increased exponentially. After accounting for capital investments we show a great increase in profitability along with an efficient use of assets.
Choosing who you do business with and how, was also a major milestone for our company. We ended up having to fire a few clients and are prepared to better serve where we fit best. We strive to be chameleon-like and seamlessly integrate into a customer’s world. However sometimes that world is inhospitable. It’s certainly ok to venture beyond your comfort zone, but we always ask ourselves, “Will the temporary discomfort support or enhance our position of quality and integrity?” Do whatever you can to find a yes and implement safeguards throughout the process. The lure of the “big fee” can lead you down a slippery slope in which you’re sliding upside down unable to stop gravity’s pull, emptying your pockets.
Status quo is your foe
Borrowing from John Mawell, “have we created a culture of trust and commitment with our customers?” It seems that however we answered this question, we found opportunity to satisfy additional needs with our services and fortify relationships. Finding untapped value is now part of our culture. So far we have successfully avoided chasing what’s new or getting away from our core. Here’s 2 components of our discovery process that worked for us.
- Think about what happens before, during, and after our service is used – are there additional opportunities to provide value?
- Identify the trend and find the lasting impact – how has it affected value to our customers and our business?
Well that’s the short of it. I hope you’ve found this informative and can find a way to draw from it when it’s time to perform. That is what success is all about. It’s the difference between knowing and doing. It’s the ability to recognize events unfolding before your eyes and making the most of the opportunity. So what questions came to mind while you were reading this? I would love to hear from you now. Call me, send an email, or leave some comments below and let’s continue the conversation.
Happy holidays and all the best for 2016!