Having some serious problems in your business

Common Issues & Challenges:

  • Finances:

    The business is bleeding cash. You’re unable to get ahead and are fighting a high level of debt.

  • People and culture:

    You’re having trouble getting the team to where it needs to be. You may have high staff turnover, a toxic culture or low productivity & quality in the team.

  • The business has stalled:

    You’ve been unable to drive growth for a few years.

  • Direction:

    The business and marketing plan need a fresh direction to reignite growth.

In our experience business owners do a great job growing their firm to where they are today, but there comes a time when the challenges and complexity are bigger than one person’s experience can handle.

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.

Roger Crawford.

When the problems are specific and discrete, the best solution is to engage a consultant with that specific expertise to help you fix it. But when the problems are complex and interrelated, it takes a more wholistic approach and that’s where a board can help.

In situations like this, a board has a number of advantages.

  • Firstly you have a number of heads working on the problem with you and their experience typically comes from running organisations larger than yours, so the breadth of expertise and experience is immediately greater.

  • Secondly, a board takes a longer term view and that’s exactly what prickly business challenges need because you often have to make some fundamental changes to arrive at a new state. A board is there for the journey and able to guide the inevitable course corrections along the way.

  • Finally, board members are well connected with a broad range of industry experts and providers. They can reach into their own networks to bring further assistance to bear.

It pays to have a playbook

Board Associates have worked with a number of clients in exactly this situation and we address it in the following way:

Firstly the board runs a strategic review session. This is typically a 4 to 5 hour session where we examine where the business is trying to get to and where it is today. In this session we spend time diagnosing the business model from an outsider’s perspective and with the benefit of being able to compare it to the many other similar business models we have experience in. From this we are able to identify those 1 or 2 threads which will unravel the complexity and dysfunction in the business.

Having identified the root cause, we then work with the owner to develop a change process and improvement program. Because of the complexity of the issues being addressed, this often involves multiple changes to people, process, structure and systems. Sometimes it takes a fundamental change to the way things work in the business.

Once the change and improvement strategy has been defined, then it’s about implementation, monitoring and course corrections. These changes and their success become board priorities and are reviewed and discussed in the board meetings.

Case Study

One of our clients in the professional services sector had a spike in growth but found that team productivity and the quality of work being produced was falling off as they got busier.  As a result, the owners were having to get more involved themselves to protect quality but they could only do so much and deadlines were coming under threat. Their first instinct was to fix the problem with technology (use a project management system).  Other options they were considering were hiring more staff, hiring a project manager to oversee operations and intentionally limiting growth while they got things under control.

When this issue was raised with the board, it was agreed that there were multiple issues at play but in our experience, none of these proposed solutions was likely to address the issue.  Rather, the fundamental issue was that the firm had outgrown its model of production, and was ready for a step change in the way they did business.

Rather than everything being managed by the owners it was time to take a step up and create a new production model where teams were more independent, self managed and responsible for their own quality and profitability.  Such a change requires a new culture, structure and new management practices, which of course don’t happen overnight.

Having defined the new desired state of the business, it then required a change and improvement strategy which the whole team provided input to.  The result was a more scalable and professional business which removed the owners as the bottle necks in the process and allowed the business to cope more seamlessly with growth.

Contact us today if you are ready to make a change and address serious problems in your business.