Stories from the Polaris Advisors: Common Business Dilemmas

Rob Chisholm

Rob Chisholm, Business Advisor

In my role as Advisor at Polaris, I work with some 25 businesses on a regular monthly basis. These businesses have annual turnovers ranging from start-ups to $8million. These businesses include, the Health industry, Manufacturing, Real-estate, I.T., Food services, Emergency services and more.

Many of these clients share common issues, common challenges, and common business dilemmas – Despite their divergent natures.

I will share with you, one such example:

My client is a relatively small manufacturing business located in the northern suburbs. A few years back the business suffered a serious setback, so serious that it almost caused the business to go under. The stress and pressure on the owners and their respective families at this time was immense. The products and the service they provide however, is sound and in demand. They courageously fought back and eventually recovered, albeit at a great physical, financial, emotional and personal cost.

A few months back they introduced a new product. This new product way exceeded expectations and resulted in gross sales almost doubling in size from only a few months earlier. This has now caused a problem of a different kind. How do we handle the work and still maintain a quality product, delivered on time? The work load on all owners, the pressure and the stress on relationships is happening all over again, except this time for a more positive reason.

At a recent meeting we discussed options. Two basic options were open to us:

      1. Do nothing and try to ride it out – possible outcomes:
      • Lose customers, decline in quality and service, Lose reputation.
      • Pressure will cause breakdown in both human and other resources.
      • Potential to put the business back in jeopardy, like before.
      1. Increase overhead expenses by employing additional management staff, increase borrowings ( if possible) Move to bigger premises, implement equipment and systems changes. Possible outcomes:
      • Sales might not last, maybe just a quick and limited response from a small market segment.
      • Resulting in blow out of expenses
      • Resulting in losses and
      • Potential to put the business back in jeopardy, like before. – Only greater exposure.

My clients are only human and the near business death experience they suffered previously is still very fresh in their memory – plus we are dealing with owners made up of different personalities, needs, fears and expectations.

The above story can be anyone’s and any business, regardless of size, timing or industry.

How would you advise them? What would you recommend? What should they do next?

In reality, we have designed a template and process to measure the most likely outcome in order to get consensus and make a decision. However I would be interested to hear from you.

Let me have your thoughts on this. Send me an e. mail. Later we will publish the outcome.

For obvious reasons I cannot reveal the subject business, but let me assure you, it is real and so are the people and so too is the dilemma.