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Why don't many small businesses achieve the growth they want?

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Is Sales the most important activity to grow the business? We can't disagree that its the only function that gets revenue. But should every business owner focus on the sales first, to increase the amount of business and achieve that elusive growth every year?

Apparently, this looks good enough. If you increase sales, you get more money and so your business ought to grow. In reality, nothing can be far from the truth. Sales is a key function, but may not be the one that holds a business back from getting to it's growth targets.

Let's look at what happens when we look to get more sales. We set higher sales targets. If we have the manpower to go for it, we rush for it. If we don't have the manpower, we hire more people or appoint sales associates, dealers, agents etc.

Let's take the first case, where we have adequate manpower to get more orders. So we bring more orders with some delivery commitments. What happens down the line? Pressure on procurement, production / ex…

Learning interest of a Leader fuels enduring organisation growth

Learning happens from within. We set ourselves a learning goal for achieving certain advancements in career or business. Once this learning goal is fulfilled successfully, a leader is not expected to stop. A leader must continue with the same zeal as before and set new learning goals for scaling newer heights. In doing so a leader not only uncovers new opportunities that help an organization to look ahead, but also sets higher standards of expectations from the members of the organization. This impacts the learning practices in an organization and thus the culture.
The systems in an organization (L&D / HRD) can facilitate and encourage the learning behavior of the people. As the outcome of the learning is owned by the learners, they feel stronger, empowered, confident and involved. This has a remarkable impact on the commitment level of the learners as members of the organization. We find the people in such organizations to be more energetic, positive and contributing. These are s…

How SMEs can hire good talents and build teams

Every small business owner understands the need for good people but very few are able to hire the right talent. I realize those who do are the ones that are able to scale up and sustain in the longer run.
Let's look at the problem more closely. How does a small business look for new people to hire? If they have in-house help, they buy access to a job portal and start filtering CVs based on conditions that they select from the available search criteria. If they do not have anyone to do the legwork in-house, they go to a placement consultant to help them get CVs for further consideration. Let's understand that the placement consultants source the CVs from the same of job portals. So the sourcing pool of CVs remain the same irrespective of the approach followed in recruiting candidates. 

Problem 1 If we choose the incorrect criteria to filter CVs, we get inappropriate CVs. If we get inappropriate CVs, either we end up not recruiting someone or recruiting someone who under-performs…

Time Management and Communication Challenges in Small Businesses Solved

Most small business owners have a common major constraint in managing their businesses effectively. They want to be free from day to day operations, decision making, coordination, tracking task completions etc. to devote time for developmental activities. However, they hardly get a chance to address anything but the 'Urgent' category tasks. But why?

We all understand and want to be accountable for the tasks that are assigned to us and want others also to be accountable for the tasks that we assign to them. In a typical work environment in any business, on a normal day, we plan several actions besides the regular operations related ones, e.g. customer asking for a special visit, purchase officer responding to an interesting vendor presentation that needs owner's intervention, a change in process suggested by an operator, an urgent analysis report request from the bank, sales report analysis that predicts change in consumption in certain products, and so on. How does one han…

Managing succession in family businesses

I prefer to work with family businesses than so called professional organisations. My reasons are simple. Family businesses have always appeared to be more sincere in their objectives. Hence, their chances of implementing changes / improvements successfully are always higher. And so, working with them I stand higher chances of tasting success and satisfaction. 
However, family businesses, particularly the more unorganized ones and smaller ones face one serious business challenge. They find it difficult to pass on the baton to the next generation smoothly. Sometimes (a) in smaller businesses, the next generation may not find the business appealing enough to get involved, or, (b) even if they join the family business, their ways of doing work isn't acceptable to their predecessors. 
In the case (a) above, the business owner loses motivation in scaling up or running a good business and performance gradually worsens. In the case (b), there is regular conflict in the two generations a…

Getting the best from Training Programs

Training is an activity that is coordinated by HR cell in organisations. Training programs across businesses in Kolkata and around have started growing in numbers gradually in the past few years. But most such training fail to add value to the organisation.

Outbound training is normally being used to reward the participants by providing them the opportunity of going out on a paid sightseeing in the name of developing skills / knowledge. I say this because I haven't seen a post-training process or effort that supports the application of skills and knowledge gathered in the training. The high motivation carried back to work by participants gradually fade off when they do not find any structure or encouragement for utilizing the lessons they had learnt.

In-house training outcomes have been more meaningful as they are normally used to deliver specific knowledge or inputs that participants need to do their jobs better. And they are able to relate to the training purpose better. However…

Do business owners really want teamwork?

Most business owners talk in favour of teamwork. They all want the team members to do their best to help each other so that the organisation as a team wins. Always! Nothing wrong in this expectation. In fact its a great thought and approach.

However, the business owners normally fail to demonstrate their faith in teamwork in the systems and processes they follow. Strangely, we tend to find that the organisation processes are normally designed to THROTTLE teamwork instead of supporting it! Some common examples of this conflicting approach can be seen when individual performances are measured, compared and rewarded in various ways. Some companies also have this practice of weeding out non-top performers every year - which means a top performer retained any year may not get selected in the top performing bracket in the following year and runs the risk of being screened out too.

Should we expect the team members to support one another in the above conditions and enhance their risk of gett…

Why this blog

There have been so many occasions in the past when I have had a profound learning experience while working with my clients or in training workshops. I always treasured these learning or knowledge more than that I gathered in classrooms or through books. Not that I don't read books or don't consider the wisdom compiled in those books. But when the same knowledge gathered from various books got tested live in front of my own eyes, a different level of understanding replaced the previous knowledge. It is a state of understanding where I could adapt the knowledge suiting the context, when I could develop a corollary or extend the knowledge to fulfil the desired objective or implement an idea. Awareness and application of these corollaries or extensions of the basic knowledge gives us our today's identity and brings out our signature style.

This blog would serve two objectives - to document all the empirical knowledge and to share the special knowledge with all those discerning…