When I started my previous company, as a multimedia software distributor, I had no experience of the technology industry. My previous work experience had been doing export sales of pharmaceuticals and canned foodstuffs to West Africa, working as a management consultant at a big 4 consultancy advising companies in a variety of industries and then 10 years in financial services for Fortune 100 companies. My business partner came from the freight and travel industry, so neither of had a background in tech. What we did have was a combined 40 years experience of running businesses. As a result, we were able to build an award-winning, multimillion Pound business software distribution business despite not having a background in the technology industry.
Over the 20 years that we built-up the business, we rarely came across a problem that we had not had to tackle once or twice in our previous business ‘incarnations’. Issues around account management, team building, compensation, supplier concentration, customer acquisition, product pricing, supply chain and process management are largely the same whatever industry you are in. The fact that we could approach these business challenges without the baggage of ‘Well that’s how it is done in this industry’, ensured that we could always evaluate the situation with perspective and consider solutions with ‘a fresh set of eyes.’ We therefore often came-up with solutions that we knew worked in another industry and applied them to the technology business with great success.
Of course, there are industry specific nuances that will need to be applied to adapt a solution from one industry to another. Very specific fields, such as Intellectual Property, may not translate so easily between industries but when you are analyzing problems and looking for solutions, searching outside of your industry is usually a great place to look. It’s why I kept a habit of reading widely (not just the technology industry trade journals) and talking to lots of management teams and business owners. It ensured I would have a range of analytical tools, perspectives and solutions to bring to bear on a problem and would not always be locked into ‘conventional wisdom’ in the industry.
Looking outside your industry regularly to see what is happening and how other industries are coping with their challenges is essential to managing any business. At Adman Management Partners, we probably already had to confront many of the challenges that your business faces. Unlike many consultants, we have actually faced these problems in the ‘real world of SME business’. We can help you bring a fresh set of eyes, skills and ideas to help you overcome them, so contact us for a no obligation chat.