My client (the owner & MD of the new startup by a family in the engineering industry) approached me with an array of problems. They were 5 years into the launch of a new business venture that targeted the medical devices industry and had started firmly in the market. Whilst they were generating revenue, they hadn’t been able to capitalise on the success they’d been enjoying and needed help facilitating growth.
Despite being 5 years into their venture, they had come to the realisation that they were over performing yet under achieving. Almost everyone in the team worked 12-14 hours a day with little visible progression. The owner spent a vast proportion of his day performing menial tasks and approving decisions and, whilst they were agile when it came to decision making, their implementation times consistently slipped.
The business was also plagued by operational issues. Sizeable cash flow gaps and financial leakages meant they weren’t retaining the profit they were entitled to. There was also an inherent culture of mistrust and blame, as well as heavily siloed communications, all of which made collaborative, progressive work almost impossible.
The solution to these problems was not a quick fix. Termed a ‘wicked problem’, these sort of issues are so wide ranging and intertwined that a single change to the business can have unforeseen consequences in seemingly unrelated areas.
My first task was to help manage the owner’s time more effectively. From my initial assessment, it appeared that he spent too long reacting to problems than managing the business and his days were filled with minor discrepancies; things his team should be correcting.
We worked together to create a productive schedule, centring on a focused approach to tasks and delegation. I helped the owner understand where his time was best spent and coached him in practices that would see him become an outstanding leader.
The other immediate problem was far more sizeable. However, through well managed, effective change, my client and I solved the operational issues faced by the business.
As a matter of urgency, I slowed leakages through a combination of departmental integration and process improvement. By improving communication and reducing duplication of work, the business benefited from fewer operational costs. Further to this, I advised my client on business debts and reduced the credit period, improving the cash flow exponentially.
The results we’ve achieved together are outstanding. The CEO now benefits from a shorter yet more focused workday and employees are empowered to make decisions themselves. The culture has improved dramatically. Employees now work seamlessly across departments and communicate using an intranet designed to stimulate conversation and relationship amongst workers. The benefit of this is a reduction in business ‘bottlenecks’, a decrease in dispatch time and a financial saving thanks to a new ‘goods-return’ policy.
Sales have increased by 87% since the expansion into the overseas market and domestic sales have continued to grow thanks to a more results-orientated marketing strategy. Revenue has increased by 3 digits since the turnaround and a 30% saving on the bottom line means the business is finally able to reap the financial rewards they are due.
The combination of enhanced communication and delegation meant the culture of mistrust subsequently improved. This was amplified by my work to attract and employ high quality employees, as well as a company wide focus on strong processes with an agile, intelligent workforce.
Further contributions to the business revolved around sales development. I helped grow the top line of the business by developing the business overseas. Through a combination of in-depth market research, networking, brand awareness exercises and strategic partnerships, I was able to successfully launch my clients’ product internationally.