No, of course that’s not how things go in practice. But it’s a question that ambitious business owners should ask themselves regularly. Why? Because it’ll be too late if you sit on your hands until one day, out of the blue, you get a call from a prospective client on the other side of the world. When this kind of opportunity knocks, no business owner wants to be stuck with IT tooling that poses an obstacle. You want to hit the accelerator, and shift into a higher gear.
Ambition as a measure of success
Kees de Jong is co-founder of nlgroeit (‘NL grows’), a platform that connects successful business owners with less experienced colleagues. He regularly gives talks (online) on the growth potential of Dutch companies. One of his remarks at a talk really stuck with me: the success of a business owner is closely linked with their ambition. The higher the bar, the greater your chances of better performance. More clients, bigger contracts, higher turnover. He also discussed how companies in the Netherlands still lack ambition. People found a company and mainly focus on clients in their own region. But few business owners immediately set their sights abroad. These few can see the need to gear their organisations for success from day one.
Setting up your IT housekeeping
Back to the question where this story began: could your company handle 50 new clients from 10 different countries tomorrow? Is your IT tooling set up right for this, and is everything running smoothly? In practice, the second question is the sticking point for many companies. This is unfortunate. It stems from failure to build scalability into the organisation in the crucial early years. This also involves people and products, but in this example mainly IT and tools. Once upon a time the director chose a CRM package, whose limitations are now coming to light. For instance, marketers and account managers each work with their own tools, which hardly communicate with one another. And the content management system is a nightmare when you suddenly need ten new websites in ten different languages.
Can we scale?
What’s the moral of the story? At the risk of stating the obvious: ambition often pays off. The main idea here is that as a business owner, you must take a closer look at the services you provide and the clients you serve. This could look completely different in just two or three years. Write down some scenarios to guide you, as a business owner. Then ask yourself: are our systems set up properly for this? Can we scale up easily, or will this hold us back as an organisation? You’ll actually need an IT architect for this: a specialist who can look beyond day-to-day business and fast-forward a few years down the road. This IT architect may well be someone in your own organisation. It mainly involves sketching out a clear vision for this at an early stage.
Three key questions
Of course not every organisation is starting from the same place. Where one company is more dependent on an efficient marketing tool, another may be primarily concerned with the content management system. In general, three universal questions apply to the setup of your IT housekeeping and associated tools.
- Do they provide the data you need?
- Can the different tools communicate with each other?
- Will upscaling be easy?
The first question is obvious, and we’ve just covered the third one. The second question means you don’t want a compartmentalised environment, where employees in the organisation have no idea what their colleagues are doing. For instance, an account manager contacts a client, unaware that his co-worker from marketing had already been in touch. You can read more in this article: Rapid growth: watch out for the boomerang effect.
For these reasons, more and more growing companies are choosing the HubSpot ecosystem – a popular SAAS platform for commercial processes. With this solution, every piece of client information ends up with the right employee, and you can see the impact of different activities at the push of a button. A marketing campaign, to name one example. HubSpot boasts a smart, highly intuitive structure. Every element is made up of a data component, content component, messaging component, automation component and reporting component. This offers extreme ease of use. And in the light of our story, that may well be its greatest benefit: it makes upscaling a breeze! With this platform, your company is always optimally positioned for further growth. Even if you suddenly hear from 50 new clients from 10 different countries tomorrow.