Over the years, I’ve observed that most start-ups, small and medium enterprises are obsessed with growth. Although nothing’s wrong with development, these organisations almost always establish an unstable culture.
There’s high attrition among both employees and clients. They come and go because they’re grossly dissatisfied and feel an overall lack of attention to detail regarding service and delivery excellence. Now, that’s a problem to be solved else you’ll end up building a sandcastle instead of an empire built on an unshakable foundation.
Having run a couple of small businesses, I can tell that establishing culture is hard work. And obsessing about growth isn’t what helps grow a business, notably smaller enterprises. Their needs are different from established organisations.
Most small businesses can do far better if they focus on building micro-businesses that fosters both entrepreneurship and service-excellence. That means companies should focus a whole lot more on account management as the key growth strategy.
So, a single account becomes a business by itself. With each new account, you end up creating micro-businesses independent of each other yet significantly impacting its bottom line. The strategy also helps in creating a highly focused client-centric operation.
Of course, this calls for some reorganisation, but it’s worth the time and effort. It’s far more effective to go through the exercise than pile one new account after the other with no real talent to serve or manage the accounts, the clients, or expectations.
In essence, here’s what I’m saying — if you’re a company with three major clients:
- Establish key account managers for each of the clients
- Build teams under these managers that cater to the unique needs of the clients
- Keep the teams focused on just the clients they’re working with; if you think they’re under-utilised, develop a plan to engage them in value-add activities for the client, even if you’re not getting paid for it. The idea is to have your client pay attention first; the money will flow in later.
If you’re a one-person operation with multiple accounts, collaborate with partners who know, like, and trust you to pay them for the effort they’re putting in to manage a client/account for you. It’s far more efficient to have such an arrangement than go it out alone.
Of course, it’s easier said than done but whoever said this was easy must’ve been drunk. It’s one of those complex exercises that sound and feel essential, but nobody’s motivated to do it. But do you must, else you’re doomed for failure or worse, mediocrity.