How to epically fail at business growth after assessing the market growth potential

Jesse Meijers

These are exciting times. The world is changing, people want sustainable products, customized to their needs, and ordered online with same-day delivery, preferably at the hour of their choosing. This is a chance! Quality products made to measure, that's your thing. When you can deliver on demand you know you will sell what you make. You don't have to worry about a warehouse full of useless products. Your staff can work from home, so you can save office space and energy bills and invest in a good management system that ensures a smooth production line. In the most efficient way, you bring your raw materials together so your team can create the customized product, which will then be taken directly to the customer who had already bought it. After assessing the market growth potential you find that your products can be clothing, furniture, decorations, jewelry, you name it, with the recognizable quality mark of your company. Not before long you will be trading internationally too, the possibilities are endless, your dreams even more so.

Assessing the market growth potential

You know how to do this. First of all, you need to get a lot of information. All the business data from the last three years needs to be analyzed. Customer data, suppliers, the production process, and anything that can help you understand what needs to be done to grow your business in this new direction. That will give you a starting point. You know where you want to get too. Between your start and end state, you want to build a production line where every part of the process, every action, and all progress is tightly managed and controlled, in a seamless way to ensure perfect execution. You dream of a control center that will be the heart of your business, with you in charge of it all.

You start by hiring a data analyst and sharing your vision with him. You ask him to look through all the existing data and provide a report on his findings. A month later the report lies on your desk. Impressive. Lots of nice graphs and colorful presentations. A good description of what the assignment was, the expectations, how data was analyzed and a justification of the time spend. The conclusion is nice too.

Everything you thought is confirmed in the report. This is exactly what you wanted to hear. No need to look at the appendices of information, you are sure your person has been thorough. With this report, you can go to your investors and start setting up your new business.

With that money, you start looking around for a good management system, the core of your business! It is important to keep control of the whole business, so you want something that presents you with all the data there is to get and the tools to present that in a meaningful way. With automatic alarms and alerts, reporting capability, the possibility to upscale, and lots of big screens for your specialized staff to work from.

Finding the right software

You find just such a company. "We don't run your business, you run your business", they tell you. Exactly. Everything you ask for they provide. In fact, you are impressed by a first demo when they can show you that there is a lot more data you can possibly look at than you thought. Your level of control will be better than expected. And data storage is cheap and fast, all done in the cloud. They need half a year to set up the whole system, which is a bit long, but it gives you time to transform the rest of your business as well. It's an investment, but it will certainly pay off.

A little more than a year later your system is ready. You want to give a demo to your staff and because the system is a little complicated the kind people at the software company help you with that. Next week your operations staff will attend an exclusive three-day training course to understand the software, the possible customizations, and all the bells and whistles.

Your staff is impressed with the large screens, nice desks and beautiful presentation of all the data. This is truly the nerve center of the company. The demo shows them how it's all going to work. A customer places an order which is automatically received on screen number one. The customer details are already created, all the operator has to do is check if the customer already exists to avoid duplicate entries. If so, the new order must be linked with the old entry and the new entry can be deleted. A green mark will be shown next to the order when this is done.

Unfortunately, the financial system is not yet linked, so it is important to check if payments have been received. If so, another green mark can be checked next to the order. Easy.

In the meantime, an order manager (working from home) is notified and will organize for the different parts of the product to be collected from the various distributed locations. When this is done another green mark will show the progress next to the order. Even before the product is completed a courier is notified to be ready to pick it up and deliver it to the customer. It is important that the driver only collects the product when all marks are green. A terminal will be placed at all pick-up locations, linked to the central system, for the driver to check, and add his own green mark to show the product has been picked up. Both the operators at the nerve center and the order manager will be notified when this happens. When the product has been delivered the driver does the same. The mobile app doesn't work yet, so for now they will just send a message to the operators for them to add the mark. With that, the order has been completed and will be archived.

Now for the fun part. During the whole process, all actions are recorded in detail for subsequent analysis and reporting. You can look at the time between each green mark to find the bottlenecks in the process, and you can report on performance by location, order type, order manager, driver, and time of day. And this is just by default! You can also add external data, such as weather, traffic congestions, holidays, big events like football matches, economic data, customer demographics, or even current events to see how good or bad news affects the incoming orders and indeed the processing of them. Anything you want to know they can add. With an extra five day training, your staff can even do some of that themselves.

There are a couple of hick-ups during the demo but that's to be expected. The system is a little slow and must be restarted a couple of times, and it turns out that special characters mess up the database. The report didn't fit nicely on one page so about 50 pages were printed that were rubbish. And an automatic email to the order manager was sent to everyone in the company. Shame that the engineer who had configured it all had jokingly put "you are sacked" in the subject, most people could laugh about it.

Five people go on training the next week, they are excited they can spend time in California, the only location where training can be given at short notice. A bit expensive, but good for morale. It is good for them to meet the support team, which is also based out of the US. Hopefully, they can make arrangements to be able to get support during our working hours as well.

Another half a year later your new operations can be launched with a big party. There is a new website with a different look and feel, the various physical operation centers are linked, new products are introduced, and the new business can start.

The launch day

And how popular it is! On the first day, so many orders come in that the website crashes. "That's a good problem to have", the friendly support person tells you optimistically. And when that is solved, the orders come in and everything works as designed.

So many orders are received that your staff must work overtime each day to process it all. You decide to help yourself and work through the weekend to make sure on Monday everything is ready for assembly and delivery. What a success!  By Sunday evening, all orders have green marks where needed, ready to go to the next stage of the process. On Monday the first products are being delivered. One customer politely gives back the product as she had canceled the order when she never received a confirmation e-mail. When at 16:30 the support team in the US looks at this, they discover that these emails were turned off after the disaster during the demo.

A little worried, you check the financial system. 35 orders had been canceled last week; 20 products were delivered anyway. Everything must be checked before tomorrow to avoid further loss. You know you can create a report from all the data, but in your panic, you can't figure out how to do that. Tomorrow morning your trained staff arrive, but they are so busy processing all the orders that it takes them most of the day to get you the report. It turns out that there are so many problems that you must make the painful decision to temporarily stop the operation altogether. A quick message "come back soon" is put on the website.

What follows is an angry phone call with the software supplier. "How is it possible that so much got missed? I thought you would show me everything I need to know!"

"Well, in fact, we show you everything. Look, the system did record the canceled payments and errors in the e-mail. It was all there for you to act."

"But we missed it. There was so much going on that we never saw that data amongst all the other information."

"That's not for us to solve, we give you the data and tools, and you manage your business. Maybe you need more staff"

Your staff also complain that you need more staff. There are not enough people to process everything, they are tired, they worked long hours, and feel nothing has been done right. You promise to fix things. You take a week to make some changes and relaunch your business. Fortunately, most customers have turned away, so this time there are far fewer orders coming in. You can manage, although mistakes are still being made. Simple, human mistakes. There are so many things to look at, and so many actions to be taken, you can't really blame anyone.

Not long after this debacle, there is only one decision to be made. Turn it all off and resume the old business model. It is not at all certain you can become profitable again, but you don't want to give up either. Is there a solution to this?

Grow your revenue, not your workforce

It turns out there is. The big mistake was to think that data is the same as information. For this business, all that data was simply overwhelming, there were far too many human interactions, and no one knew what to look at. When you turn data into information, you only see what you need to know and can understand. You don't need to know everything; you need to know only those items that need human intervention. And when you look at that, you find that a lot of standard human interventions can be automated in a meaningful and manageable way.

Triggre gives you the tools to do just that. You don't need programming skills, and it is easy to make progress step by step, without having to design a complete system by programmers. By implementing Straight Through Processing (STP) and Manage By Exception (MBE) you will be able to grow your revenue, not your workforce. And it will work. Download our free whitepaper "The ultimate scaleup guide to automating business processes. A simple step-by-step agile approach to grow your revenue, not your workforce" to get a better understanding of how to automate business processes successfully.

Triggre is a robust no-code platform that helps entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs, and large corporates alike in their automation journey. You can sign up for free and try out templates that are fully customizable and ready to use, based on real-world use cases. Or, if you prefer, start from scratch and build your unique software solution, completely adapted to your company's needs from zero. Moreover, you don't have to start this journey alone: you can make use of our learning resources to master the tool in no time or contact a certified Triggre expert to help you out.

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