The bottom line is that no matter your business, the best way to grow is to have a plan.
Strategic, methodical plan can keep the focus on goals
Growth of any kind is something all types of businesses welcome, but there is still the lingering assumption in some quarters that it comes accidentally — something that Alden Aumann (pictured at right), Managing Partner at Manning Elliott LLP, disagrees with.
Business owners need growth for a variety of reasons, he says, whether it be to achieve critical mass, economies of scale, or to simply garner more respect and recognition. “But whatever the case, it does not come accidentally. The reasons for growth are almost as varied as the motivation for growing, but the bottom line is no matter who you are, the best way to grow is to have a plan.”
While this may seem logical, Aumann notes that many businesses embark on growth without properly quantifying the process or where it will ultimately take the business. “High tech is an example of an entire industry whose growth can be very unstructured,” he says.
Is there a common template that all businesses can adopt to develop their own growth plan? “Not really, but there is a common starting point, one that is absolutely crucial,” says Aumann. “A plan starts by determining what the owners and management want to achieve. At Manning Elliott we have 26 partners, therefore 26 people to consult.”
Aumann adds, “The development of a growth plan should be done internally rather than relying completely on the services of a third party. An analogy might be if you can’t tie your own shoes, don’t expect to walk very far.”
Once a plan is developed, there remains another key thing to keep in mind. “Executing the plan is the hard part of the process,” says Aumann. “You have to stick with it, no matter how challenging. Opportunities will become available in abundance—but you should only grab the ones that fit your strategic plan.”
Aumann is familiar with this firsthand: Manning Elliott’s plan involved growing both organically and through mergers; since 2000 the firm has had 11 merge-ins both large and small. “But we only acted on the opportunities because they were a good fit for us— we didn’t acquire other businesses simply for the sake of acquisition, which would have been an easy and even attractive path to take but one that would have rendered us vulnerable to negative consequences.”
Manning Elliott’s most recent merger is also one of its largest in recent years: effective Jan 1, 2018, it will be merging with Leed Advisors Inc., a CPA and business advisory firm based in South Surrey.
“We are doing more advisory work because it fits with our growth goals, and it enables us to provide a greater service to our clients than just compliance and assurance,” explains Aumann. “Our merger with Leed Advisors Inc. will greatly expand our range of services to clientele in the South Surrey/Langley region, and once it’s complete we will have a staff numbering 180 people.”
Aumann concludes: “We’re excited about expanding our advisory capabilities because clients share their goals with us, and we can help them plot strategies. It’s fulfilling to help take their businesses to the next level.”