Too much business -- or too little
Monday, March 28, 2005 at 11:54AM
Political Mammal in Entrepreneurship

The strategic aspect of business consists in having a long-term vision, and pursuing that vision, regardless of how formally it is documented. This post is about something different: tactical decisions that seek to coordinate client and project acquisition with company capacity. I have always juggled two concerns: first, whether there is enough work for us to do; and second, whether there is too much. I contend simultaneously with both of those questions nearly every day.  

Like every business, we are always seeking to make sure there are enough sales in the pipeline and enough potential customers and projects coming aboard into the future. As everyone who runs a company must do, I have fought to make sure we are in position to keep moving along successfully. I have watched our market warily for changes in the competitive landscape and aimed to counter them. We launch product upgrades, new products, and new services to meet anticipated needs. And we seek out new people to bring talents and skills in areas into the company in areas where we are not as strong. Competing well is the first order of business.

On the other side of the ledger, I have often deliberately failed to pursue opportunities in order to slow the rate of new business acquisition. I have been allergic to making promises that we cannot keep. This practice is perhaps contrary to standard business notion that you should grow as fast as possible, but I have wanted to ensure that we would be able to handle all new business at our own high standards. News travels fast, and I have wanted to avoid a decline in our carefully guarded good reputation that failures would bring. I have also wanted to avoid hiring people that I would later have to be let go due to the cyclical nature of the political business, or because of my own miscalculations about the future. To be clear, we have expanded very healthily and consistently over the entire time period, but of course not without growing pains. I suppose that too much business is a good problem to have, but it is a real problem nonetheless.

I will keep trying to find a balance in these matters.

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