Eileen owns a nice little business with about $3 million in sales. It is profitable, but only just. It pays her a reasonable salary, although not what she should be making given her commitment of time and investment. She is the proud creator and owner of a proprietary product that could have a big impact on her region, country and possibly the world. Unfortunately, few people know about it.
Eileen spends very little on marketing or advertising. She has a modest, out-dated website that is little more than an Internet brochure. Her management team is stretched to the limit, working long hours just to get the work done. She needs time and money to invest in some serious R&D to get the product certified and approved for a larger audience. She needs to get the word out. Then, when it takes off, she needs to be ready for the onslaught of orders. That means more staff, more equipment, more facilities, better infrastructure, new software, hardware and more. The potential is there. The opportunity is right. The market wants what she has. Done well, this could expand her business ten-fold and beyond. With about five years left before she retires, this would be a terrific legacy she could be proud to sell.
Normally I like to give a little advice in these columns. This time I’d like to ask for yours. Here are some questions that would really help Eileen if she had the answers:
- How does she increase her own capacity to focus on the big picture versus day-to-day activities? She’s already working too many hours.
- How does she free up time for her management team to do the same without hiring prematurely and burning through cash?
- How does she finance R&D, marketing, new IT, new equipment, new employees and expansion?
- What does she need to give up in order to expand?
- What government resources exist to help?
Eileen’s problem isn’t that unique. It’s common among cash-strapped, small and medium-size businesses that have potential, but have reached a ceiling in their ability to expand and take their business through a substantial growth plan. Please share your insights and recommendations so she can help herself, her employees, her customers and possibly the rest of us. All opinions are welcome. She needs our help. And maybe in sharing your ideas you’ll receive some back yourself.