G2 helps prepare companies for next growth stage


    In January 2009, the Small Business Development and Technology Center began a pilot program. Its description sounds a bit like the business development version of the Navy Seals: “An advanced team of specialists called the Growth Group (G2) to prepare Michigan companies for their next stage of growth,” the press release reads.

    Nancy Boese, G2 coordinator and tools specialist for the Michigan SBTDC explained the program further: “It was designed to have a group of specialists with expertise be able to set up teams of consultants to work with the businesses in solving their issues from growing.”

    The program focuses on a fairly broad range of companies: those with between $1 million and $50 million in revenue and with nine to 99 employees.

    Boese said the revenue and employment numbers are not as relevant as a company’s desire to grow.

    “The Growth Group is designed to provide in-depth services to companies that are in a growth mode,” she said. “Those numbers are flexible; it’s just a general guideline for us.”

    The G2 team currently consists of eight fully dedicated team members who have backgrounds in various business areas such as financing, marketing and others. To customize the services it offers to a particular growing company, G2 reaches out to its network through the MSBTDC to find specialists who have gone through a similar experience.

    “Within our network, we have additional specialists that are not on the team,” said Boese. “For example, we have people that have extensive restaurant experience. If we have a restaurant … we would pull in a restaurant specialist to work with them.”

    The program, which is free, begins with an internal assessment that includes a 90-question survey for company employees and covers a wide variety of topics.

    “It really is a tool for us to get a gauge of what the management team and the people within a company know about the company,” Boese said. “We can help them prioritize where they need to lay their efforts in the short term of 30, 60, or 90 days.”

    While the internal assessment can help companies know where to focus during the short term, the assistance they can receive from G2 can span years.

    “It’s not like they’re in for six months and then gone. Our goal is to really help them grow and to work in depth with them,” she said.

    “It could be a few months and it could be a couple years, depending on the project they’re working on. If they’re looking to develop a new product and expand into new markets, that could take several years.”

    She noted that business owners have found the Fiscal Fitness tool the most valuable tool of the program so far.

    “We need three years of their financials, and then we can do a comparison of them against their industry and find out where they are doing well and areas of improvement.

    “We can also build analysis. What if we added a salesman? What if we bought this piece of equipment? What if we dropped our accounts receivables by 30 days; what will that do to our cash flow?”

    Another, newer tool helps companies look at possible markets to identify which one to pursue.

    When a company is in growth mode, however, Boese mentioned that many have trouble systematizing internal processes, and that is a big part of how G2 can help.

    “We are doing process mapping with the companies. We are finding that many of them are emerging and they are having challenges with (always doing the same thing differently). So we are doing process mapping to help them identify areas of opportunity, streamline processes and improve on their operations from a business standpoint.

    “We are also … helping them develop a vision. The key piece to this is we help them develop an implementation plan, and we monitor that implementation plan and make sure they’re continuing to move that forward, that it’s not stagnant. People often do a strategic plan and then it goes on a shelf. That’s not what we want.”

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