Growth Stages Strategy

How will your business grow in the future? Understanding that is key.

Paul van Hamond peddled his cold-pressed juices all over the place. A few sales sales here, some sales there, but that strategy wasn’t working so well.

Now he focuses his sales mainly on high-end hotels. His Expressed Juice line can be found in Edition East, W Hotel, Four Seasons, Nautilus and other hotels from Key West through Palm Beach County. With the success at home, he’s now confidently exploring sales to resorts in the Caribbean.

To be sure, the cold-pressed juice marketplace is packed with competition. That’s why van Hamond isn’t going the expensive bricks and mortar route that many of his competitors (and, ahem, former competitors) did with branded storefronts. Although he is confident the healthy eating trend is here to stay, specific trending products within the industry can cool off, so that is why he also developed a distribution company as an additional revenue stream that represents his brands as well as kombucha, cold brews and artesan teas. He’s also preparing to launch a line of 32-ounce mixology products, all cold-pressed, non-GMO and organic flavors that can be mixed with alcohol. The idea is better tasting drinks that aren’t loaded with extra sugar – and again his principal market will be the many bars in the hospitality industry.

It took some trial and error, and help from consultants at Florida SBDC at FIU, but van Hamond now understands how his company – now nine employees — will grow in the future and he is sharply focused on that. It’s early but so far it is paying off. He has 220 active accounts stretching from Key West to West Palm Beach, and his biggest by far are the hotels and Milan Supermarkets. He expects to book $1.7 million in revenue this year and projects to nearly double that in 2019.

It’s important for growth-stage companies to understand how their businesses will scale in the future and formulate a plan that will take them there, said Ricardo Newark, a consultant with Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within FIU’s College of Business.

“Once you have that business model that can grow your business profitably, ask yourself if you have the sources aligned to make that growth happen. Execution is key,” said Newark, who specializes in business growth, operations efficiency, financial performance and international operations.

If a company doesn’t understand how it will grow in the future, a common consequence is stunted growth, said Jacqueline Sousa, regional director of Florida SBDC at FIU.

“We see this all the time. Businesses get to a certain point and they can’t get beyond that point. Or, their market changes but they don’t — leaving the business behind to fail,” Sousa said.

The trick for a business owner who understands how they will grow in the future is knowing what to prioritize when. The owner’s key priorities should change as the business grows, said Sousa. For example, a Stage 1 business owner should be hyper-focused on revenue growth, cash flow, access to capital. He or she shouldn’t worry about, say, chaos in the workplace. Not that chaos isn’t important, but at that stage, other things are more important. Even the approach when hiring personnel is different. At Stage 1, it’s extremely important to hire people who fit with the organization, who are on board with the owner’s mission even if they may not be the most technically competent.

However, as the business grows, something that previously wasn’t important – say, chaos in the workplace — does become a problem. And whereas hiring for fit was most important in the early stages, by the time the company starts reaching 35-40 employees, hiring experienced professionals and managers becomes more important.

Newark also suggests small businesses review their growth plans regularly to ensure it is getting the expected results, and if not, the business can take corrective action. It is important that the different functions of the company be aligned on the goals and that there are consistencies in how the functions operate, he added.

“Consistent and intelligent growth is more important than simply fast growth,” adds consultant Nile Kirec, who specializes in marketing and branding. “Don’t be obsessed with growth. Sometimes you may need to put a cap on growth, saying we aren’t going to go after these opportunities but focus on being the best of what we are right now and then go to the next stage.”

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