For this reason, he suggests that you concentrate on letting those senior people who are actually good at business development use their natural talents rather than try to turn technicians into salespeople. He also says you should try to avoid the trap of using a full-time business development professional who has no background in your field to try and win new work for your firm.
“They will never fully understand the complexities of what you do,” he warns.
4. Protect your greatest assets
Collins-Woolcock believes that, in today’s hot market, nothing is more important than looking after your people. Otherwise, your greatest assets and the key to your business growth will walk out the door and it will be close to impossible to replace them.
“The problem with a labour shortage is that you never lose your C graders because they have nowhere else to go, even now. You lose your A graders first, then you lose your B graders.”
Chung agrees, arguing staff retention isn’t simply about throwing more money at your employees.
“Most people’s driver isn’t money, it’s about the chance to do good work. Incentivising people through money, with bonuses, profit share and equity should be a consideration but it shouldn’t be the only one,” he says.
Although Collins-Woolcock says that the short-to-mid-term looks rosy, he notes that not all parts of Australia are growing equally - with mining and commodity-focused states lagging behind the big cities on the Eastern seaboard. But he says it would be wrong to ignore those areas outside of Sydney and Melbourne, as they offer a form of diversification to help mitigate the risk of the boom/bust cycle.
“There are some reasonable opportunities in regional areas, particularly,” says Collins-Woolcock. “And the established players tend not to be interested because the regional markets aren’t quite big enough for their business models.”
“For that reason, I think looking out for regional Australia is a big opportunity for smaller players.”
But diversification can come in other forms too: it can also mean offering a range of services, taking on projects from different types of clients or looking at other ways to tap into markets with a low degree of correlation.
In a busy market it’s easy to grow a business, but it’s harder than ever to grow a sustainable one. But by taking these five steps Collins-Woolcock says you should go some way to making sure your business growth can last beyond the current boom stage of the cycle.