Part 30: Leading Indicators & Early Warning Signs – How Small & Mid Sized Companies Grow

Get ahead of the curve by being in touch with leading indicators and early warning signals. In a rapidly changing environment one must be on top of things and be faster to recognize the winds of change quickly or be left behind by their competitors. Sometimes you are the one causing change to happen; this is a proactive consequence of your activities. Other times you are just impacted by change coming from somewhere else, while you may be a passive observer. Everyone is seeking an advantage in the marketplace. That advantage translates to winning over prospects as well as retaining ones own clients. Just look at what has happened in the dynamic world of smart phones and in just the last few years we have seen iphone become #1, only to see the Android replace them while Blackberry after cutting 40% of their workforce just announced it’s being sold to a private investment group for a 93% decline from its high a few years ago. The early warning signals to Blackberry were the limited number of apps that were being developed for them. And while there are legions of dedicated iphone users, the market response to their 5S was less then stellar.

Admittedly few products and services are as hotly contested as the smart phone market since it is so huge and growing so rapidly, that every 1% change in market share translated to millions upon millions of dollars. But everyone should be concerned about which indicators and signals that will impact them. The first step is to identify which these are. For some companies it is the economy or more specifically their local economy and the buying power their customers have. For others it might be legislative changes that will impact their ability to do business, for others it is changes in technology that will affect their business model.

So first identify what are the things that you need to keep you eye on. Then find a way to gain access to that information, in some instances it is freely available if you know where to look. Then develop a game plan to determine how you will respond to change, the earlier the better when change comes swiftly. Then have a system in place to measure how well you are doing as changes occurs, are you winning or losing the battle? As you are getting a handle on your key indicators and signals you should be modifying whatever existing game plan you have to incorporate this new information. As you do this, if your actions are paying off you should see positive results, if not you need to retool and try another initiative. The more dynamic your business the faster you have to move. Conversely those who though that they were immune, paid no attention to what was going on around them and were blindsided by events. For example, outsourcing took many by total surprise as they simply considered their competition to be local or domestic, only to find they went bankrupt within a year.

We will next talk about finding out what motivated your staff and match that with people that meet your goals.

We welcome your questions as to the challenges you face in order to grow.

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Optimal Management is the premier management consulting company to the staffing industry. We act as mentors to owners and managers to maximize their sales, profits and value of their company. We become an extension of our clients operations and are there for all of their staffing and business needs, from sales, marketing and compensation plans, to finance, M&A, general management and everything in between.


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