Helping Small Business Owners in a Struggling Economy

By Evan J. Segal, Special for US Daily Review.

One of the major issues in the USA today is our high unemployment rate. There have been numerous articles with ideas about ways to help re-energize the economy. Smart Management Lessons provides business owners with ideas and knowledge that will help them improve their business operations, lower operating costs, create new product opportunities and position their company for the creation of new jobs.

As the President/Owner of a dynamic manufacturing business, I was able to directly create hundreds of new jobs. These were good positions that offered career growth opportunities, an attractive benefits package and an excellent working environment.  In addition, each new job that we created resulted in additional jobs at many of our domestic suppliers. These new employees also supported the growth of local businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants and retail stores. The economic leverage of new job creation is sometimes referred to as the multiplier effect. Each new job created has a real and significant positive impact on the US economy.

In my new book: “From Local To Global: Smart Management Lessons to Grow Your Business”, I identify specific lessons learned that will help unlock the hidden growth potential in your company. They are built on the concept of 6Ps – Product, Process, Partners, People, Passion and Policy.

In terms of Product, a critical component of success is for an organization to have a structured process for new product development. An organization can utilize effective processes (such as Stage-Gate and Voice-of-the Customer) in the development of innovative, new products. New products are a catalyst in the growth of sales, providing current and new customers the opportunity to increase their purchases from your business.

In terms of Process, there are total quality management and business improvement processes that will enable you to improve the efficiency of your operation and enhance the productivity of your people. Great examples are the concepts embedded in Total Quality Management and Six Sigma. We also had great success with Lean Processes, which help to eliminate waste throughout your organization. Improving the efficiency of your operations will lower your costs, enabling you to aggressively pursue larger customers, which will increase your sales and create the impetus for increased employment.

Another important process opportunity is to focus on and enhance the management of your supply chain. Leveraging the products and services of your suppliers can create new business opportunities. An often hidden source of and growth may lie with your suppliers. They may possess new products or services that may be valuable for your business. They have experiences with other customers and in related markets that may apply to your business. Suppliers may have technical skills and knowledge that might be of value to your product-development team.

In term of Partners, a company can achieve strategic growth through a synergistic acquisition or joint venture agreement. There are opportunities to increase the sales of an organization through a product-line acquisition, license agreement, private-label branding and/or buy-sell agreements. The addition of new items will stimulate sales and provide additional benefits including increased commissions for your sales team, increased purchases from suppliers and improved morale.

Another opportunity lies with your international business partners, who can help you develop your overseas markets. Many companies have international suppliers that provide a product or service to your company. Discuss with them the possibility of selling your products directly and/or helping you identify other distributors in their country. Overseas markets are also a great place for you to identify potential new products, which can be adapted and enhanced for the US market.

In terms of People, the rapid growth of an organization creates challenges and opportunities. Some people are able to expand their capabilities to support the company. Others will struggle with the new challenges associated with a larger, faster-paced organization. Developing a structured HR program that aligns corporate strategy with performance management is critical to the success of an organization. It is important to integrate elements such as merit-based pay, pay grades, and career paths. Incorporating “success factors”—behaviors that are essential for success—is an important part of a performance-management system.

In terms of Passion, developing a fun environment for sales meetings can create a better opportunity to convey your message. In an effort to break through the noise and boredom of traditional sales meetings, you can think of an exciting concept that makes your meeting the “one to attend.”  We would often put on a show, using popular songs with the words changed for our products. Our sales reps would eagerly wait to see what ingenious idea we had created. Instilling energy, excitement and passion will provide a platform where your attendees are interested and excited to learn about your new products and services

In terms of Policy, it is important to work with government officials on a national, state and local level to encourage the creation of policies that are aligned with and support business growth. Specific examples include multi-year economic incentive programs tied to job growth, fair market access to international markets and tax incentives that encourage capital investment, worker training, quality management and job creation.

The integration of Smart Management Lessons into your business will help you enhance your ability to effectively compete in a challenging global marketplace. The use of intelligent, effective business processes will lower your costs, help create new products, generate new sales opportunities and create new jobs.

Evan J. Segal graduated from the CMU Tepper School of Business with a B.S. and a MBA. He was the president and owner of Dormont Manufacturing Company. Segal served as the Chief Financial Officer at the United States Department of Agriculture. He was nominated by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate. Segal also served on The White House Innovation and Information Policy Task Force and the Federal CFO Council. Segal is president of Smart Management Lessons, a management-consulting firm. Evan and his wife Tracy are the proud parents of two daughters.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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