In my experience as an entrepreneur, and through our work with hundreds of clients, I have learned that opportunity is everywhere for unique and innovative companies that bring real value to customers. However, opportunity can be overwhelming if you do not adapt to changing markets and increasing demand, and build a scalable infrastructure capable of effectively accommodating grow
Intro to Infrastructure
Infrastructure refers to structures and systems that facilitate the production and delivery of agency services. Basically, it includes any physical or organizational element required to run and grow your agency. Core components include financial systems, information technology, management systems, and human resources.
Growth for growth’s sake, without a profitable business model, results in little more than an entrepreneurial ego boost. Expansion in prototype agencies is driven primarily by the desire to attract and retain talent. They opt for controlled growth, often resisting the urge Intro to Infrastructure Infrastructure refers to structures and systems that facilitate the production and delivery of agency services. Basically, it includes any physical or organizational element required to run and grow your agency. Core components include financial systems, information technology, management systems, and human resources.
They focus on building a stable operational foundation with nimble management systems that enable them to execute and adapt faster than the competition. They make calculated investments in hardware, software, staffing, partnerships, advisors, and office space designed to support their foreseeable future needs, while maintaining the highest levels of service quality, efficiency, and productivity today. Making decisions too far ahead of the growth curve can cost you valuable resources now, but not planning for the contingencies of growth can be detrimental to your ability to profitably build your business.
Goals, Trends, and Timing
There is no standard formula to guide infrastructure investments. You have to consider your unique business goals and growth trends. For some, that means modest growth of 5 to 10 percent per year, whereas others may have aggressive growth prospects of 50 to 100 percent or more per year. The more aggressive agencies must be incredibly smart about their infrastructure choices. It is easy to spend thousands of dollars on a phone system, server, or project management platform that becomes obsolete as you expand.
You also have to consider your timetable when planning infrastructure. I tend to look at business decisions as current (next 12 months), short term (1–3 years), midterm (3–5 years) and long term (more than 5 years). Infrastructure planning should account for current and short-term needs, with contingencies for midterm possibilities. Change velocity principles dictate that trying to plan for anything beyond three years is an exercise in futility. Have a vision for the long term, but make infrastructure decisions based on current and short-term realities.
When PR 20/20 reached five employees in 2008, I began working on a 2x–3x scale. This meant that for every decision I made, I would consider whether or not the solution would be viable at 10–15 employees. At that time, we built out an office space capable of accommodating up to 15 employees in 2–3 years, but we also included an option on the adjacent space that would fit up to 25 employees in 3–5 years. We installed a sophisticated phone system, upgraded our Internet bandwidth, and set up a new server and internal computer network.