Editor's View - September 2011

Strategizing For Growth
By Wanda Jankowski, Editor-in-Chief

This product-filled issue is dedicated largely to the New York Home Fashions Market, but in addition to the important tasks of creating and selecting new products, retailers and suppliers must grapple with other significant issues related to growing business in fast-changing times. Sooner or later, you may have to change your business model because the current one isn’t producing enough growth or profits, external changes such as technology dictate it, or it is required in order to enter a different market or product segment.

George F. Brown, Jr., ceo and co-founder of Blue Canyon Partners, Inc., a strategy consulting firm that works with business suppliers on growth strategies, has surveyed business executives regarding primary reasons for their companies’ business model changes, actions that made the changes successful and pitfalls that led to failure.

The most demanding business changes, according to Brown’s research, involve shifts from a domestic to a global business, a business to a consumer market, a product- to a service-oriented business and a bricks-and-mortar business to e-commerce.

Even if you aren’t looking to incorporate a major change in your model, Brown’s tools for success can help in implementing any degree of change in process, technologies, customer service, market niche and product lines that your company may face in the months ahead. Here are steps that figured prominently in successful restructurings based on Brown’s survey of executives who have been through them:

  • Cultivate leaders and managers who are supportive of and involved in the process to avoid the obstruction of goal achievement by “enemies from within.”
  • Practice clear communication about what and why you are changing, both internally and externally to customers, suppliers and others to get them on board.
  • Test concepts and processes, identify risks and adequately fund changes to minimize the negative impact of consequences and unexpected circumstances that can sabotage the transformation.
  • Map out a detailed action plan that covers what to do as well as not to do, rather than rely on seat-of-the-pants actions that are difficult to evaluate until damage is done.
  • Support transition efforts with full-time project team members who have the appropriate skills. Tasks added-on to a staffer’s usual responsiblities can be treated lightly or be left undone. Tasks beyond a staffer’s expertise can create serious setbacks in achieving your goals.
  • Track progress and learn from it to remove obstacles that may arise unexpectedly along the way.
    Begin any strategy by recognizing that the process won’t be easy, but that it will succeed if your plan is well-defined and implemented.

To learn more about growth strategies, check out Brown’s book, co-authored with Atlee Valentine Pope, titled CoDestiny: Overcome Your Growth Challenges By Helping Your Customers Overcome Theirs, at codestinybook.com.

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