Resourcing Growth

Welcome to Resourcing Growth 

  • What resources will you need to expand internationally?
  • How will you manage your existing business to deal with the extra workload of trading overseas?
  • What internal and external resources can you utilise?

The chances are your resources are already stretched. You have no surplus time on your hands and cash is tight. How are you going to take on a new challenge and keep the plates spinning?

What resources will you need for your export project?

 

Internal Resources

You have identified the additional resources you will need, now its time to see what adjustments to your business model will ensure that you can secure them. What about finding some extra resource internally? – where could it come from? You (and your team) will want to think about a number of key elements:

  • Time – how can you find the time for your international project?
  • Skills – do you have the skills in-house?
  • Cash – can you free up enough cash to make it happen? There is one additional resource that often gets over looked but that is very important – Headspace – will you (and your team) be able to find enough headspace to operate effectively.

If you are busy, and close to full capacity now, where are all of these resources going to come from as you grow the business? When the question of “time” comes up for example, most business owners just put a brave face on it and say “well you make time don’t you……..” Indeed you will have to “make time” – but how do you do this and not affect “business as usual”?

You might well find that many of the resources that you need are already within the business, you just can’t access them. To explain with an analogy; when you buy a new laptop it is very slick and works very quickly, but after you have had it for a while it slows down as it becomes laboured with lots of programmes and documents. Businesses go through a similar cycle as they grow. As with your laptop, a good “clear-out” from time to time will release capacity and speed up operation. With a more effective approach you may find that the precious resources that you need can be found within your existing business without the need for further investment.

What inefficiencies might be costing you unnecessary time and money? Each of the sections below asks you to consider a series of questions designed to prompt thoughts about your efficiency as an organisation. Take a bit of time to look through each one and take an open-minded approach to giving an honest answer. 

Make a note of any questions which raise issues that could be investigated further,  to tune up your business and release resources from within:

 

How can you improve use of your internal resources?

Your Offering

Consider what it is that you sell –Make sure that you are not putting effort into producing goods or services that people don’t actually need or want or don’t pay you for:

 

Your Marketplace

Consider where you sell your products. Make sure that you are selling into the most suitable marketplaces; unsuitable marketplaces are tough and can be very resource intensive.

 

Your Route To Market

Ultimately you want to communicate with your Customers in such a way that they are motivated to buy from you. Sales operations are high risk and resource intensive – particularly if they are not highly effective. You will want to be pushing on open doors not locked ones, you will also want to be sure that your own route to market is not only effective, but also sustainable.

 

Your Systems

Systems can become very laboured with time – things get repeated, unnecessary bits get added. If you are going to review your systems and processes get everyone involved in the process and look at all activity. For example for Sales Order Processing, you might take the point that the Customer places the order and then go to the point where the order is shipped and look at all activity between the two.

 

Your Core Competencies

Analyse what you do with your time. Do you waste time struggling with things that you are not particularly good at? Do you spend time on activities that you enjoy and are good at but could be passed to someone else?

Your business needs you to deliver your maximum value, so focus on the things you are good at and the things that only you can do.

 

Your Team

With a small team it is quite common for everyone to “muck in” and do what needs to be done. This of course is important in the early days when there are just a few of you running the business and everyone has to “multi-task”. As the business grows however, it is important that that you get the most from the team by playing everyone to their strengths and in position. For example, you might have a skilled salesperson who is being paid to sell, but is only spending a small amount of his / her time dealing with customers.

 

Your Customers

Paradoxically, whilst customers are the lifeblood of your business they can also be the thing that kills it as you progress. Research has shown that high proportions of resources in small and medium sized businesses are spent managing poor quality customers who provide little value to the business. Frequently the Pareto 80/20 rule applies – you may well be getting 80% of your business from 20% of your customer base. You might want to ask yourself the following questions:

External Resources


You have looked at where you might make some gains from your internal resources, but what about help from outside your company?

Your Suppliers:

Can you get your Suppliers to do more? – it is worth remembering that as your business grows so does theirs, so how can they help you more in your quest to increase their sales?. Could they improve their service? Provide better terms? Contribute more using their expertise?

Collaborative Partners:

You may want to consider your core competencies and collaborate on aspects of the businesses that are not your core strengths. Think about where your business really “adds value”. For example, if you design, manufacture, sell and deliver products, could you collaborate with someone else on the manufacturing and logistics side of the business and thus leave you more free to concentrate on design and international sales? Once you get short on resources, you will want to improve efficiencies to maximise what you have got. Collaborative Partners may be in a better position to do this as they will have expertise in certain fields – if you choose the right Collaboration Partner; this invariably means that they can deliver more for less.

Trading Partners:

Sales and marketing activity can be both costly and risky – particularly in an overseas market. Could you transfer the responsibility of some of this trading activity (and responsibility) to third party Trading Partners? – (usually Distributors or Agents). You may have to give up some direct margin for this, but consider that you would have been paying for the activity in any case, just as an overhead rather than as a direct cost of sale. Overseas Trading Partners may be better positioned to deliver some of these services more effectively.

Professional Services:

The same rationale applies here – if you engage people who understand specific areas they can not only do a more thorough job, but they can do it more effectively. The decision to contract something out or do it yourself is an important resource decision. Something that could take you two or three hours may take a professional just one.

Universities:

Nowadays most universities are keen to engage with the private sector at a variety of levels. Applying university expertise to commercial R&D projects is an area where many companies have benefited – particularly as there can be funding help for this. University students at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels are often looking for commercial projects to complete as part of their degree programme. This can be a useful source of additional manpower, especially as many students in the UK come from overseas. Don’t forget that universities always enjoy a vast range of international links that may be of value to you.

Have a look at your list below, and think about where you may be able to make gains from outside your company.

 

Where might we look for the resources we need?

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