2020: Decision Vision Podcast

Decision Vision Episode 83: Should I Grow My Company?

– An Interview with Alicia Butler Pierre, Equilibria, Inc. 

Most companies want growth, but as Alicia Butler Pierre discusses, there are numerous decision points around growth which must be addressed. Is your back office infrastructure prepared for growth? How did you handle the risks of unexpectedly rapid growth, such as Zoom experienced in 2020? Alicia and host Mike Blake discuss these questions and much more on this edition of “Decision Vision,” presented by Brady Ware & Company.

Alicia Butler Pierre, CEO, Equilibria, Inc.
Alicia Butler Pierre’s career in operations began over 20 years ago as a chemical engineer in several chemical plants and oil refineries in her native Louisiana. Her passion is in designing processes that help people, places and things flow more efficiently. Alicia is the founder and CEO of Equilibria, Inc., a 15-year-old operations management firm specializing in business infrastructure for fast-growing companies. Her company is currently the world’s largest and most comprehensive repository on business infrastructure for small businesses.

It is at Equilibria where she invented the Kasennu™ framework for business infrastructure and software by the same name. She has since successfully applied this framework in over 30 different industries and counting. Alicia has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Tulane University.

Her ability to blend scientific, business, and mathematical methodologies to solve complex operational problems enables her to bring a unique, tactical, and realistic perspective to her clients, who have also included larger enterprises like The Coca-Cola Company, Lowe’s, and Shell Oil Company.

Alicia is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and has produced over 350 articles, podcast episodes, case studies, videos, and white papers in the areas of business infrastructure, process improvement, and operational excellence. Combined, her content has over three quarters of a million views across various online platforms.

Alicia hosts the weekly Business Infrastructure: Curing Back Office Blues podcast which recently celebrated its 100th episode. She’s also the author of the 2x Amazon bestseller, Behind the Façade: How to Structure Company Operations for Sustainable Success. Committed to doing the right things the right way, Alicia’s mantra is “to leave it better than you found it.”

Connect with Alicia by visiting her website.

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Mike Blake: [00:14:06] So, let me ask this, there’s a widely held belief that a company can pursue either profit or growth. There’s sort of this choice that you can either be profitable or you can be growing. Do you believe in that choice?

Alicia Butler Pierre: [00:14:23] Why not have both? But I will say this, when you first make the conscious decision to start growing your company, it may very well adversely impact profitability. And here’s why. When we think of growth, that means an investment because I specialize in business infrastructure, which looks at your people, your processes, then your tools and technologies. Investing in growth means that you have made a conscious decision to also invest in more people, upgrading technologies, upgrading to different or new pieces of equipment or types of tools, as well as getting your processes and systems well-defined. Those require financial resources. So, that will show up as line items on your profit and loss statement. So, these are expenses and those expenses will also grow.

Alicia Butler Pierre: [00:15:19] So, initially, your bottom line may take a hit. But that’s in the immediate short term. The idea is that as you invest in those people, processes, and tools, and technologies that you will start to be able to handle the additional business that comes your way. And you will, in fact, achieve profitability. But just know that when you, again, make that conscious decision – and that often comes in the form of a strategic growth plan or strategy. And then, you have the specific tactics that are needed to implement that strategy. One of which, again, includes you have to have more people. That’s almost always, Mike, one of the very first decisions that people make, which talk about risk. That is a huge risk. Because what if you want to get it right? Especially, if a smaller company, even micro enterprises, those decisions are so critical and you almost can’t afford to get it wrong. You have to get it right because those first hires are so critical to whether or not your strategic growth plan will, in fact, be a success.

Mike Blake: [00:16:39] Yeah. And I imagine, really, it’s a matter of massive scale, right? If you’re a two-person firm, you find one person. If 33 percent of any company’s labor force under performs, I don’t care if you’re Coca-Cola or a three-person company, that company is going to be in trouble.

Alicia Butler Pierre: [00:16:56] Yes. Absolutely. Now, you just said something –

Mike Blake: [00:16:59] Because you can’t hide that [inaudible].

Alicia Butler Pierre: [00:16:59] You just said something really important. And this is something else that I am on a crusade to educate people about. And that is, you mentioned the word scale. So many times people use those terms interchangeably. But, for me, they mean two different things. When I think of growth, I’m thinking of, usually, all of the marketing related activities that you’re going to drive more customers to your business, to your company, to your organization. When I talk about scale, scale is almost like hypergrowth. It’s growth to the 100th power. Scale is more so about the operations.

Alicia Butler Pierre: [00:17:43] So, Mike, if you make that appearance on a popular daytime TV show or you are featured on a very popular radio show and, all of a sudden, you have this influx of business coming your way, coming to your website, for example, do you have the operational capacity to meet that demand? And if you don’t, you’re in trouble. So, it’s one thing to talk about growth. It’s a totally different conversation to talk about scale.

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Source + Access to Full Transcript: Decision Vision Podcast 

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