There comes a time in every growing business when, as the owner, you "come to the end of your sleeve." Your business reaches capacity. Either your business has surpassed your skill set or your capacity, or both. What does any smart entrepreneur do? You bring in service providers to help grow your business... unless they don't.
When you no longer have the time or skill to perform at the level needed for your business to succeed, service providers provide essential services. Whether it's marketing, branding, finances, operations, or administration, service providers that fit your business needs and style are critical to your success.
Unfortunately, a poor performing service provider can make or break your small business growth, especially if you fail to take action. Service providers, brought on with the intention of expediting business growth, can unknowingly cause your business growth to lag if you fail to heed the warning signs.
To identify whether or not your service providers are hindering your small business growth, watch for these warning signs:
1. They consistency miss deadlines. This can be particularly challenging to your growth strategy when critical deadlines are missed -- especially if there is little to no communication from the providers. The domino effect of the delays can cause you to miss important windows of opportunity.
2. "Things" fall through the cracks. "Things" can be communication, requests for work, documents related to the project -- anything generated by you, the small business owner, that mysteriously turns up missing once it's in the hands of the provider.
3. Persistent errors. Granted, we all make mistakes periodically. However, errors and bloopers routinely spawned by service providers are demanding of your time. You end up providing oversight for which your service provider should be responsible. Isn't that what they're being paid for?
4. Slow response time. I understand we're all busy. However, in this fast-paced economy where open windows of opportunity close quickly, you need service providers with the systems and resources to facilitate timely responses to your requests. A delayed response from a service provider can cause a major setback for your business.
5. Irresponsible in commitments. After several broken promises, one of my clients finally "fired" her service provider. After my client made numerous attempts to accommodate the needs of the service provider, the service provider failed, yet again, to provide a vital service for the business. It wasn't a case of poor performance any longer, it was non performance!
Small business owners are much too tolerant of poor performing service providers. Many providers become friends which make it more difficult to tell them to take a hike. It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security with your service provider -- until a critical opportunity is missed due to their poor performance.
Consider the warning signs that are listed but don't ignore the actions you need to take to restore trust and dependability in your service providers. Your growth depends on it.