by Andrew Morrisey PMP, ITCP, ISP
Managing and Founding Partner, C-Level Executive Solutions
Ten possible ways to grow your business include:
- Open another location.
- Offer your business as a franchise or business opportunity.
- License your product.
- Form an alliance.
- Target other markets.
- Win a big contract.
- Merge with or acquire another business.
- Expand Globally.
- Expand via the internet.
Some years ago I managed to pull off the opening of a new branch office in St. John's NL, by forming a solid strategic alliance with three established and well connected NL firms, and then positioned the resulting consortium to bid and win a huge government contract. We then grew to $9M/Yr in revenues in under 18 months. Again, In 2010 the company I was working for (MTS Allstream) sold its IT Consulting division to PwC. At that time the revenues from my region for IT Consulting services was an attractive $15M plus.
The key lesson is that aligning yourself with a compatible type of business can be a very powerful way to expand quickly. In earlier years of running business units I encountered some poorly matched partnerships that resulted in their loss of business. So before you start down the alliance path figure out what you want to accomplish and the timeline to do it. If you are looking for a long term position in the marketplace and want to have a superior reputation then choose your alliances appropriately.
Alliances by similar types of business are more likely to work if there is a lot of market potential for both of you. When the market slows down the scenario can become dog-eat-dog. Make sure you have a good governance structure and rules of engagement. Then at least you will know when things are going south early enough to either work on re-building the relationship or exiting it early. Holding on too long has the potential to ruin both your brand and reputation.
Another approach is to form alliances with non-competing firms that compliment your service offerings. These "near neighbour" companies would be the same ones that you would recommend to a customer to take on the execution phase of the project you are working on. At C-Level we are often hired to develop corporate strategies or to strengthen a business model. Once the objectives are set and the next step is to achieve the objectives by implementing the plan, the client firm may not have the capacity, expertise or information to fully achieve these objectives, so we introduce firms in our alliance network. This is a win-win-win as it keeps our C-Level team working at the strategic level and our alliance partners aid in achieving the shared customer's outcomes.
Alternatively we get referred to bring in one of our C-Level Execs by our alliance partner as they become aware of major challenges at the client C-Suite level, either a quick departure/exit or challenges to a firms abilities.
As with any relationship you need to continue to stay engaged and develop areas to work together, to leverage the alliance. Success in this area takes both sides to make it work.