This is part one of a series of six articles focused on organic growth challenges for SME (small-medium enterprise) engineering, consulting and construction firms. Each article will focus on one challenge area and provides some high level approaches to overcome these challenges.
Those of us in the environmental industry can remember the fast growth days in the US of the 70’s, 80’s and somewhat the 90’s. Regulations drove that growth and a large number of companies and careers were born. The good news is those regulations did a great job for our environment. The bad news, we cannot expect any new major US environmental regulations to spur the same rate of growth. The same challenge exists for engineering/construction firms although with different business cycles and drivers.
Today’s government and industrial clients needs are more driven by needing to do more with less (efficiency) and delivering ROI on their investments. Many of the legacy environmentally contaminated site portfolios are reaching the point where most sites have reached the “no further action” stage. New technology, software, system automation, etc. provides clients the ability to self-perform work with less effort, achieve better results and delay repair or upgrade work. Engineering and construction firms may be seeing more pressure to partner. Large firms are expected to increase the use of small business. These smaller budgets create both challenges and opportunities for SME’s.
Clients with reduced spending budgets are a fact of life so get used to it. This applies to both commercial and government clients. It helps to make sure you understand your clients program and capital spending cycles. If you can provide solutions that delay or remove the need for capital investment, you will certainly get their attention. If you have a solution that can reduce the total program cost and time to implement, you will certainly get their attention. If they are searching for solutions to automate part of their current work, then you should be part of the solution which could generate consulting and implementation work. Be out in front of partnering and small business demands. Lastly, if they are downsizing their labor force, you should be prepared to step-in with a transitional or permanent solution. Creative solutions can generate additional revenues for you.