Where small design firms struggle – growth strategy ‘implementation’

Today, there’s a wealth of free resources and advisers in the market offering growth-related support and strategic guidance to owner-founders and leaders of the many small firms in the design industry.

Some of the many invest time and money exploring these resources and/or engaging an adviser to help them develop a strategic growth plan which is all well and good for those firms that are going to ensure they do manage to successfully implement the plan.

My day-to-day conversations with these size firms frequently reveals just how many struggle to implement a growth strategy in the ongoing consistent manner that’s invariably required. This is all so familiar and often painfully clear to see how a change of mindset and more structure can help those that do struggle to get out of the blocks and purposefully drive the marketing and business development function/s to help deliver on their plan.

This may seem blindingly obvious, but it needs saying because I see the same problems today that I saw back in 2002 when I started my consultancy by writing an article called Development Policy. This was published in 2003 by newdesign and made reference to how…”creatives get wrapped up in what they do best – using their skills to meet the day-to-day demands and deadlines of their ‘here today’ clients – yet in doing so, they neglect NBD, the essential driving force behind any business.”

Around this time, I offered design firms a combination of research, strategic thinking, planning and implementation. This worked well for small design firms as it allowed them to concentrate most of their time on what they often do best and enjoy most – client projects.

Today, advisers typically don’t put into practice and implement the plans they shape for design firms. Some design firms simply don’t engage the right marketing and business development resources or structure any resources at all to put the strategy to work. Others see themselves implementing the plan but fail because they become consumed by or choose to focus their time on client projects.

These are just some of the realities and pinch-points I see, and many will be aware of, that influence the successful implementation of a growth strategy.

So, if you’re mulling over the subject of growth and need a plan, think ‘long term’ and think as carefully about the ‘how’ and ‘who’ will put this plan to work as you do about what strategic advice you might engage to help you shape the plan.