As exciting as rapid business growth is, it’s also a critical time for adequate planning and expectation management.
Talk Business has had the opportunity to sit down with Marcin Kujawski, quality and materials research manager, and Darren Hughes, international business development manager, from Concrete Canvas Ltd to gather a few tips for expanding, increasing export efforts and preparing for business growth.
Maintain quality standards
When a business is met with growing demand, it becomes tricky to maintain exceptional standards which can lead to a decrease in client satisfaction. However, not all successful, growing businesses have to sacrifice product quality.
According to Marcin Kujawski, businesses should have practical solutions and quality control practices in place to maintain product standards despite increased manufacturing outputs.
“Generally, we have our lab technicians trained to do quality control and research tasks interchangeably when needed,” says Kujawski.
If and when necessary, additional technician time should be delegated to perform quality control to avoid unnecessary pressure on the quality control department.
“Once the increased production rates are confirmed to become standard or if any further increase is confirmed, we can employ and train new technicians to make sure that quality control remains relative to the production rates,” Kujawski explains.
Plan ahead and prepare your staff accordingly
As the business grows, it is critical to maintain proper bookkeeping and have practices in place that allow a smooth production process. Planning and securing all necessary resources such as raw ingredients, operators and storage spaces for the finished product is an especially important part of preparation. Furthermore, changes should be implemented to ensure safe and reliable production at all times.
Marcin Kujawski highlights the significance of staff and operator training during the process of expansion as key for ensuring a smooth increase in production.
“All of that can be achieved by providing training and information to all operators involved in production and post-production processes, and by setting up appropriate levels of supervisory resources (i.e. promotion of suitable candidates to become production technicians) to be available to support all production operators,” explains Kujawski.
Identify challenges and find solutions
Even with planning and preparation for expansion, there are usually other challenges that arise outside the production practices. Darren Hughes notes that as more and more business comes from overseas, ensuring appropriate support is available to overseas customers is fundamental for successful client relationships. While setting up remote overseas teams can be challenging, it can also benefit the business greatly.
“Setting up remote overseas sales offices certainly has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced, but also a great opportunity to add new talent to the business, which in turn has played a large part in our continued growth,” says Hughes.
Know when and where to look for help
As daunting as building export relationships can be, there are many support services for businesses to take advantage of to aid with the initial challenges. Such programs are available to companies from governmental organisations, grant agencies and even private consultancies (although this route might be costly). Hughes noted that when Concrete Canvas was undergoing export expansion, the company took advantage of such programs available.
“We extensively utilised the funded programmes (ITO, OMIS, OBDV) which benefit from the support of local market experts to provide the initial guidance which can then be followed up with more confidence by your own direct market visits,” he said.
He believes this was imperative for the company’s success at building up their exports over the years. This success has recently been acknowledged by Her Majesty The Queen, as Concrete Canvas Ltd was awarded the 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.
Use your resources wisely!
When it comes to increased demand, it is easy to get lost in the sea of potential new markets. While at first glance this seems like a great way to assure rapid expansion, this might not be the best use of resources available. In fact, Hughes advises against hasty decision making and encourages extensive market research and prioritisation of resources.
“At Concrete Canvas, we would select the markets we would like to address each year and then not deviate from these targets until they were established,” Hughes explains. While such an approach requires strong discipline, it also ensures that all new export requests are dealt with at the correct time and when resources are available.