Your constraint to growth may be some aspect of marketing, sales, or something else entirely. If for instance you own a restaurant with the most amazing marketing, but your food isn’t very good, or your wait staff is not trained well, or the restaurant is dirty, you’ve got other problems. It’s the same with any business – constraints show up anywhere and everywhere.
When we do growth audits for a business, all sorts of things show up. One recurring theme is that what worked for one phase of growth no longer works for the current phase. It might be the type of marketing, or the sales team, or the product, or the owner – whose style worked earlier – but now the market, the company and other things just changed. And so sometimes we look for the enemy, and it is us. So now things need to change, or growth is capped out.
The constraint naturally shifts as time goes on. However being ahead of that – when it shifts, and what it shifts to – is important. You shouldn’t be guessing where it is, or surprised when it shifts.
Think of your company as a factory, and the products going out the back are prospects and customers. What are the processes and who are the people responsible for creating throughout out that back door? When you map out the processes, you should see that some part of the processes are candidates to be constraints. That either means that their capacity should be increased OR that they just need to be carefully managed. ‘Managed’ might mean that you need to make sure that the constraint resource always has work come to it.
So if you gain most of your prospects on the web and you’ve determined that online is your best source of prospects and customers, you need to have a lean, mean online machine – with all the right keywords – and be managing that diligently on a daily basis. And at a deeper level you need to know how that process works, and fine-tune it. Improve it. Know where the constraint is to gain more traffic and buyers – for instance, with your adword budget, or perhaps the look and feel isn’t very good. What knob can you dial and turn up throughput?
There’s also a mistaken perception that parts of the processes that are not the constraint can be dialed back. That’s not always the case. A process is built to handle variability, and so for instance if you get most of your leads from trade shows and you don’t have the bandwidth to follow-up with leads and prospects within a few days after shows, that’s a problem, even through for the rest of the year your follow-up capability doesn’t appear to be a constraint.
Constraints can be time sensitive due to variability and how your process works.
Constraints are natural – marketing constraints, sales constraints and business constraints. There is always a constraint to growth. Knowing is power.
Know your process to grow. Know where both constraints and buffers are or should be for you – and manage it. You’ll find that by knowing and managing, you’ll increase throughput productivity and effectively – by spinning the dials with marketing, sales and other parts of your business.