There is an old saying that if a business isn't growing it's dying. I believe this to be true. There are many ways to measure growth, it's not always just about turnover. It can be about expertise, technology, skills and capability. When dealing in the business to business space, if you have clients that are growing rapidly, you have to keep up with them or face the risk of losing them forever.
I have certainly experienced this in the past. Several years back I worked with a medium sized company that underwent a rapid growth spurt, increasing annual revenue from $35 million to $150 million in two very short years. As a small business supplying marketing services to this company, it became very clear that as my client grew, my business needed to grow with them. If I didn't, I would be left behind and they would end up using a bigger marketing firm and that would have been devastating to my business.
I made a very strategic decision to ensure that I invested in my business and my staff to ensure that we were more than capable of meeting the needs and expectations of this rapidly growing company. This meant:
- Investing in technology--I was determined to ensure that my business had the latest in computers, printers and all of the related technology and hardware. I also made a point of investing in training to make certain that we could use this technology to its full capacity.
- Investing in our skills--within the business I made a point of up-skilling everyone, including myself. This investment was in training, coaching, personal development products and specialized consultants, all of which ensured that our internal capability kept growing at the same pace as our big client.
- Investing in research--I made a point of investing financially in research, to ensure that the advice we were offering was at the forefront of our industry. In other words my researcher was charged with finding case studies, new industry practices, new resources that were available etc.
The end result of this was that although my business was relatively small (we had less than ten people on the team) the services, skills and capability we could offer were on par with much larger marketing firms.
This ensured that we retained our rapidly growing client for many years. We were able to bat above our weight, doing work for larger companies who would have traditionally wanted to work with bigger marketing firms. Clearly a good outcome and a good model.