Many businesses have momentary success, only later to endure long-term challenges. We’ve seen businesses that have endured those challenges shift and achieve lasting breakthroughs. The difference? Leaders find a way to change their strategic mindsets, helping forge new achievements for their companies. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.
A crucial step in changing your strategic mindset is seeing a bigger picture that goes beyond what you think your company represents today.
Let me share a story. Our firm, Shepherd Advisors, worked with a successful metal machining/fabrication company that had around $50 million in revenue. Management was deservedly proud of its team, its machines, its facilities, and the many types of projects they could take on. They were able to serve a full range of customers, from small shops to multinationals.
But growth had stalled, and this was a problem for the new owners who wanted to double the business. Over the course of our work with management, it became clear that it wasn’t the firm’s services, customers, workers, or machines that were holding them back. It was the firm’s mindset. They viewed themselves as a “job shop” where they treated every “job” as special - and every customer the same.
That mentality had served the company very well, delivering slow and steady growth for decades. But could this same mentality deliver on the aggressive new ownership goal of doubling revenue in five years?
When we start the strategy journey with a client, we really want to understand their current state. In other words, “What is true about the business today?”
A key component of Shepherd’s strategic GAMEPlan process is a detailed multi-year account-level sales analysis. We track who is buying what and organize customers by their markets and industries. We learn about customer concentrations, sales trends, and other buying patterns, giving us critical intel that often surprises our clients.
Like many successful job shops, the company had hundreds of customers who were in many markets, and it went to great lengths to ensure top quality for each job. Yet, our sales analysis clearly showed that the customers who were driving the firm’s growth were heavily concentrated in just three markets. This was eye-opening for management. Now, strategically, some markets mattered more and not every customer was the same.
With this insight, management’s strategic mindset began shifting from job-centric to market-centric. In turn, management developed a new market-driven growth strategy. They then made a cascade of improvements. They re-aligned business units, made new market-specific hires, and revamped marketing and sales for the three markets powering their growth. With these mental, strategic, and operational shifts, growth accelerated, and revenues doubled within three years.
The effort that goes into re-modeling or instituting a new strategic mindset into your business and management team is not for the faint of heart. In all honesty, changing an entire mindset -- and aligning a company to the goals and objectives that result from the shift – is a lot of heavy lifting. Yet, a new strategic mindset is often THE catalytic next step for companies striving to empower their growth dreams into reality.
“Success is not by accident. Success is a choice.” - Stephen Curry