4 partners or hires to propel your business growth


If you’ve set your success goals high– and are honest with yourself – you know that you alone can’t do everything.

You read about the “fog of war” and sometimes I think there’s a “fog of running or starting a small business” when you can get so focused on making it through the day or week that you fail to see the bigger picture. Let’s look at an important piece of that bigger picture: What addition(s) to your management or ownership would best position you for the growth you want to achieve.

Where you are in the life of your small business will, in large part, determine the position of this person or persons. If you’re just getting off the ground, you might consider bringing on a partner. If reducing your ownership share isn’t an option, that channels you toward making an addition to your management team or hiring consultants.

You need to really analyze your weaknesses and uncover where a strategic addition would benefit you the most. The areas to explore are:

  • Operations,
  • Technology,
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Financial

If you’re in the startup mode, I would add “fundraising” to this list. However, the background of a person good at fundraising often overlaps with sales and marketing or financial professionals. Let’s look at each of these categories to help you get started with your analysis.

Operations. Constant incremental improvements in the operations side of your business can pay off with dramatically increased profits. If you’ve been doing the same things the same way for a long time, or your business is new and you’re “flying by the seat of your pants,” a skilled professional who knows how to get things done efficiently, may be ideal for your company.

Another element of this is that it might be time to outsource some of your operations. You may even want to consider going overseas to get some things done. Do you have the time or experience to do this? If not, consider adding a Mr. or Ms. Fixit to your team or ownership.

Technology. Companies that best leverage technology are the most likely to succeed today. If you’re limping by on old systems kludged together to “run” your business, bolstering your technology talent could be what you need to get to the next level.

Do a technology audit. See how your systems compare to the current best practices in your industry. You might bring in a professional to look at what you do and make suggestions. That person might end up working with you to upgrade your systems.

Sales and marketing. I doubt I need to emphasize the importance of this category. The question you need to ask yourself is if your sales and marketing efforts currently have the kind of direction they need to achieve the level of success you’ve always hoped to achieve.

Look at sales and marketing from a strategic point of view. Is there, in fact, a strategy in place? How is your territory or client base growing? If you think you can always milk the same cow, you’ll find that the cow soon starts producing less and less milk until it eventually goes dry.

Financial. You may know your product or service better than anyone in the world or be able to sell ice to Eskimos, but if you don’t have your finances under control and a financial plan in place, you could be throwing money out the window.

An easy way to get a feel for where you are with your finances is to examine the time you devote to your company’s financial health. Do you throw receipts in a shoebox until you need them at tax time?

There’s a good chance that if you feel this is your weak area, you can bolster it by finding a good small business financial advisor. You’ll want to be prepared when you start interviewing potential candidates. I think you’ll be very pleased with the long-term results when you find the right person.

I know you haven’t had a lot of time to think about these questions at this point, but did any of those categories jump out at you? I remember old elementary school report cards had a column labeled “Needs Improvement.”

Where do you grade our operation as “Needs Improvement”? Remember: it could be more than one of those categories.