Innovative Applications

Strategic Advice Consulting





Every small business usually has something they do exceptionally well. If they didn't they would have failed early. Because they do one thing well, that doesn't mean they do everything well.

Businesses have a great many challenges that are outside the expertise of the founders. What small business owners typically lack is experience outside of their field, and independent evaluation of the enterprise. What I have is expertise in both of these fields. I also bring a creative ability to 'think outside of their box', particularly in marketing.

Right now is a particularly hard time for small businesses to grow. The previously available sources of money to drive sales through traditional marketing have largely disappeared. For a small business to grow rapidly, they need to find a market niche. This niche must be one in which competition is not significant, and it must be centered on the historical core excellence of the company. If a niche is populated by competition, then the only way to grow is to out-market them, which requires financial resources not now available.

There are a number of ways that a small business can identify its niche: By geography ("within 3 miles of the Big Chicken"), or by product specialty ("hiking gear for Appalachian trail hikers"), or service ("15 minute oil change").

To help a company identify its niche, I have to completely understand the company's product or service so that I can model how to identify an unserved market for them, and find a strategy for capitalizing on that market without significant marketing investment.

I have been able to do this for a number of my small business clients.

Another major task for the Mentor is dealing with the 'company baggage'. In any small company there are understandable differences of opinion, capabilities, and goals. Over time the tensions between the principals in the small company can (and often do) grow to the point that the core excellence is overwhelmed with petty infighting over stuff that really doesn't much matter. In such a situation, the Mentor has to be a sort of 'therapist' for the company, so the principals can refresh their original relationships and get on with making the enterprise successful.

There is no 'formula' for this aspect of Mentoring, but it takes patience, ability to listen, and empathy for the positions of the people involved. Ultimately the core excellence of the company is the guide for how to resolve the interpersonal issues. "If you want to get rich, you have to work together" is the common phrase.

I have also found that the non-core parts of the company are usually a mess. I can help them outsource operations such as payroll, accounting, and shipping to professionals in these fields.

By: John Alderman