Many small companies grow despite having a frail "foundation" of "straw and mud." They survive, to a point, because of a good product or concept and hard work. Then, slowly the foundation begins to crumble because of internal issues and stresses that occur without good values, systems, processes and a strong culture.
Effective companies most always have solid "foundations" with "deep footings" consisting of well-defined processes and procedures and agreed upon values as well as effective training programs that create a customer and employee oriented culture.
Much of my coaching is with small to medium sized, fast growth companies that are in need of a foundation that will support their expansion. The first step in building a foundation is a "Practical Planning Session." This session is facilitated using portions of a strategic planning session and facets of the basic SWOT analysis.
Do all small companies need a solid foundation and strong culture? Not always. A small company can be successful, to a point, without the foundation but that company will not continue profitable growth and will stall without the underpinnings described in this post.
I once worked with a $100M service company that, after experiencing the pitfalls of a weak culture and sloppy processes rebuilt the foundation. It was time consuming, occasionally painful two-year process that resulted in a company that was recognized as the finest in the industry, bar none.
This "brains in gear" planning session identifies and prioritizes the company's needs and opportunities. Action steps are created and the final product becomes the beams and joists for the foundation. Completion of the foundation almost always includes the creation of the following components: Mission, purposes, policies, procedures, values, training, budgeting, dashboards, job descriptions and communication processes. We focus on defining responsibilities and accountability and operating with integrity at the clearest and deepest level.
The plan and foundation is most effectively built with input and assistance from people at all levels and in all disciplines of the organization. Edicts from the top down seldom work as effectively as when people can say, "We created this company ourselves." Completion of the foundation is a time consuming and ongoing project but, done correctly, creates the culture, rules and processes needed to do the right things and do things right. Owners that build a profitable company with a strong foundation and effective culture are rewarded with higher multiples when they sell and the satisfaction of knowing that their company was "built to last."
I work with companies that have excellent foundations as well as those that that don't understand the importance of strong values and clearly defined processes. The amount of work is similar in both organizations but only one benefits from the payback and satisfaction of untamed ambition joining with rock solid systems. Priceless.
Successful companies will then identify and effectively communicate with pit-bull determination those values and processes important to the core foundation of the company. Explosive impact and growth occurs when management inspires your team to execute steadfast company processes and values even when no one is watching.