It is rare to hear the owner of a midsize business say, “things are comfortable.” That is because everyone has his or her own comfort level. It is also because, by its nature, there is always tension in a business system. The tension can arise from any number of factors: sales, competition, economic conditions, or employee stressors.

Most often, intertwined, stressors require deconstruction as a first step toward freeing up thinking-space for an owner to operate in. Take sales, as an example. To improve sales performance without adding stress to the system, an owner can move a company back to basics:

  • First, look to protect the base. Examine the customer experience and monitor retention rates in relation to service levels offered – making adjustments as required. If there is a better option in the market, your customers will be the first to know. So, why not take the initiative and be the first to ask them how they like things. Take this opportunity to strengthen the existing relationship.
  • Second, make it a point of emphasis to cross-sell. Selling additional lines of business is cost effective. Use cross-selling to continue to build a trusting relationship with your customers.
  • Third, unless you “own the market,” there is a good chance you can grow the base business by finding customers similar to ones that already see the need for your offering. Every company is a little different and every buyer is a little different. Take the time (i.e., use the thinking-space provided by actions one and two above) to understand the differences and find common ground – make the connection, close the sale and build market share.

Are these suggestions too basic for you? Then add more stressors, if you are comfortable. Try some other go-to-solutions – grow sales by expanding to new types of customers or diversifying into new lines of business. It is your choice, and that is the point. When you have nailed down the basics, you are in a better, more comfortable, operating position.

Being comfortable, as a business condition, has a lot going for it. It allows you to operate from a stable platform, which provides space for experimentation and making informed incremental choices – comfortable choices. All that said, we challenge you to get back to basics – one stressor at a time!

On Target


 When you have a good business model and a great strategy, you should win – right? As seasoned investors (i.e., business owners) know, there is one more thing you need and one more thing you need to be able to do. The thing you need is deep understanding of where you can affect value. The

Read More

The “No” You Already Have


 It has always amazed me how the simplest of questions are never answered – they “never go answered”. The reason, I have observed, is not that the questions are absurd, but mostly because the questions are never asked. We have all heard the old adage of “there is no such thing as a dumb question”.

Read More

In The News: Steele Rubber Products


 Column: Business resource can be a huge help An article from the Hickory Record by Lindsay Keisler, Catawba County Chamber of Commerce HICKORY – “Your business. Better.” This is the tagline for the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), a state and federally funded business resource through the university system in North Carolina. They

Read More

Recharge Performance


 Here are four avenues that your organization can travel to recharge performance. Externally, demonstrate to your customers and prospects how your organization adds value. Internally, focus on enhancing processes and systems that ensure value is routinely deliverable. Cut costs in areas that do not support your strategy. Reinvest savings in areas that do support the

Read More

Confucius says… Pivot


 What do you think success looks like for your business? I mean real success! Does your definition of success keep changing? If you honestly want to be successful, you need clear goals and everyone around you needs to know what they are, so they can support you. In effect, goal statements pose the question: what

Read More



 Like an airplane, the first task of a business is to get off the ground rapidly and at steep angle. Once in the air the job is to stay there; however, at this point the steep climbing angle begins to work against the business. As a midsize business, it is harder to grow revenue, hire

Read More

A Recollection and Matthew


 Years ago, as part of a keynote address, I heard a prominent business leader make the comment, “in my professional life; my first loyalty is to my industry.” When asked about this comment later, the speaker pointed to many justifications which boiled down to this fact:  when an industry is well thought of, all of its

Read More

N.C. improves ranking in business climate report


 The Winston-Salem Journal recently published an article on North Carolina’s business climate which states: “North Carolina’s ranking in an influential tax business climate report improved by four spots to 11th for 2017, the Tax Foundation said Wednesday. The 13th annual report is based on five tax categories: corporate, individual income, property, sales and unemployment insurance. North Carolina’s improvement has

Read More

Forward Looking


 Performance management shifts companies away from backward looking once-a-year reviews to a process that is real-time, continuous and focused on helping people meet goals. Focused on continuous improvement, performance management aims to build a workforce committed to personal and organizational growth. In practice, performance management represents a series of interventions designed to keep a workforce

Read More

Translator Needed


 Henry Chesbrough famously said, “Most innovations fail. And, companies that don’t innovate die.” In a recent Babson Insight article by Daniel Huber, he makes the case for rethinking what kind of human resources and organizational structures are needed — if innovation is to succeed. Key take aways include: Unintentional terminations of innovation projects occur primarily

Read More

August Quarterly Newsletter


 We recently distributed Accelerate’s quarterly newsletter, which included the following three blog posts that we’ve shared with you over the past few months: Develop a Local Contracting “Action Plan” by Noah Robins, SBTDC Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) BREXIT: What Does It Mean to U.S. Small and Mid-Size Enterprises by Alex Viva, SBTDC International Business

Read More