There's nothing automatic about corporate growth, particularly in information technology industry; "build it and they will come" is a myth. In real world there is either a structured, process-driven growth cycle, or stagnation — and stagnation IS automatic. Inherent to growth cycles are barriers, real-world business challenges that put some software companies out of business and spur others on to break through those barriers to higher levels of success. Overcoming those barriers is very definition of growth; when you break through a barrier, you've achieved growth.
You're a software or information technology company, prosperous in 2005, which means that you have a good product, you've made some smart decisions and you've already broken through some growth barriers. You're successful. Now what?
Any company, regardless of age or size can experience barriers to growth: if you find it hard to develop and maintain market momentum; are tied to your entrepreneurial management style and unable to scale; have reached a level of revenue or income and stagnation is settling in; or if your revenue is generated from one product, service, client, or industry, then you're at next growth barrier, you need to be able recognize it, and you need to prepare to cross it. This overview discusses typical growth barriers that confront many IT and software companies, and how external consultants can be used effectively to break through those barriers.
Strategy Constrained At this point your company or product is in early stages of its evolution. You've landed a handful of key accounts, and you're encouraged by your early success. Now you need a plan, a strategy, a concrete agenda that will move your information technology company from being a collection of talented people with a common goal, to being a team with a common goal and a battle-tested strategy for achieving that goal.
This stage is characterized by: •Perpetual realignment of company strategy By delivering guidance on corporate strategy, a marketing strategy consultant may be able to help a company like yours to: •Define untapped solution areas •Make technological platform decisions •Select appropriate geographic markets •Write actionable business plans
Capital Constrained You've taken your software company or product as far as you can on your savings. Or perhaps you've made a few key sales that have kept you afloat. In order to move your company on to next phase of development you need an infusion of capital to hire skilled employees, make key acquisitions and fuel your growth. Technology is your specialty, not prospectus writing for venture capitalists.
This stage is characterized by: •Inability to fund business strategies •Decision-making based upon short-term cash-flow issues rather than long-term strategy
Through road-show ready business plan development and introduction to network of VCs and angel investors, a strategy consultant may be able to help a company like yours to: •Author compelling investment prospectuses •Define immediate and long-term financial requirements •Execute successful finance road shows
Skills Constrained Typically a company finds themselves at this stage of development with a great product built on sound technology aimed at a particular industry, and their first round of financing secured. They also find themselves with a weak or non-existent positioning statement, a reactive product management process, exhausted or ineffective sales skills, and a strictly opportunistic business development strategy. Company growth is limited in part by notion that product will sell itself because it is superior to any other on market—indeed, it may be only offering. Revenue growth is limited because product is defined in terms of its functionality, not its value to customer.