How big is your company? Some clients panic when asked that question, especially if they are a one person operation. The person asking the question must have a reason and a wrong answer may cost you a new client.
Before we think about an answer to that particular question, let’s take a look at the “size” of a one person business. The “size” depends upon what the business owner wants to make it. Increasing the size of a business means that the business is able to offer more “expertise” to a client. Increasing the size of a business can be accomplished in two ways; first, hire people and increase your overhead, or, second, hire a “non-staff” team that compliments your business offerings.
Each business, whether it sells a service or product, offers a unique benefit to a client/customer. Closely related to that product or service are other related products or services that can benefit a client. No one person or business can be all things to all people, therefore, an opportunity is created to form strategic growth alliances with a number of other small business owners.
Let me use my own business as an example. My expertise is the planning process in marketing and strategic business planning. I know enough about what office systems to recognize when one is not properly set up, but I don’t have the technical knowledge to set up an internal computer based operational system. I do, however, have a “non-staff” team member that is an expert in that area and I can bring him into the process. Likewise, other “non-staff” members may be a CPA or an attorney, a web designer, a graphic artist, etc. For any business, it is possible to identify a “non-staff” team that can help your clients.
The formation of this team requires a careful selection process. It’s like you are hiring and paying someone to be an employee. Your core values are the foundation of your interview process. Once the first team member is selected, a fixed monthly meeting is established. As the team grows, they are added to the monthly meeting. The purpose of the monthly staff meeting is to discuss existing clients and opportunities for marketing the team to new clients.
While this is just an overview on the subject, the actual team formation takes several months. The team implementation process we developed requires a commitment to the development and implementation of a special business plan designed specifically for this purpose.
The answer I use when asked that question,” how big is your firm” is, “that’s a great question, before I answer, may I ask why you asked that question?” The answer to that question allows me to give an honest answer that will best represent my ability to fulfill my prospect’s needs. The answer may be anywhere from a one persona operation to a non-staff team of 8 people.
The benefits of these strategic alliances serve as basic stepping stones for future growth.
The greatest mistake a small business owner can make is to be afraid of making a mistake.