Over the last decade, the U.S. has seen unprecedented growth in the private sector as compared to large companies. The number of smaller companies grew 79 percent from 2000 to 2010. The number of larger companies decreased 2 percent for the same period.
Despite all this growth in the middle market, many if not most of its companies will stagnate or go out of business. Statistics show that only 1 in 10 will ever grow larger than 100 employees and 7 out of 10 will eventually disappear. Why?
Emerging middle-market companies tend to falter when they reach “No Man’s Land,” the phase of development where their growth slows or stops for a variety of reasons:
- MARKET – the management team struggles to do for customers what the founder had successfully done by himself or herself in the company’s early days.
- MANAGEMENT – the company has been unable to develop a high-capability management team that can take the business to the next level.
- MODEL – the company does not have a profitable economic model at a higher level of volume, and has not created infrastructure to support growth to compete with larger companies.
- MONEY – the company does not have capital to fund its anticipated level of growth.
Companies can often move past the stagnation of “No Man’s Land” with a 5-step approach:
Step 1: Engage Your Management Team with Probing Questions
Assess where you are today and where you want to go:
- Where is the business today? Why is it where it is? Is the team satisfied?
- Where does the business go from here?
- Is it on track to get there? What resources or tools are needed?
- What do our newer customers need and expect from us that’s different from what our original customers expected?
Step 2: Adopt a Market-Driven Approach
Companies can often avoid stagnation by adopting clear and precise growth strategies.
Too often it takes a crisis such as the loss of a major client to force this to happen. Consultants are brought in, people are replaced, costs are cut, and more mistakes are made — which tends to produce a result opposite to what was intended.