Growth Strategies for Small GovCons

This post builds on a great post written by LTBD, a close RI strategic business partner. In the post - 6 Essential Growth Strategies for Small Government Contractors Tim Hawkins - LTBD's founder and CEO, digs into his firm's experience working with small GovCons and offers insights into 6 critical strategies for effective growth:

  1. Obtain Certifications and Set-Asides that help to leverage your capabilities and experience.
  2. Expand from an initial 'beachhead into broader and larger relationships'.
  3. Focus on a narrow set of core competencies that can set your organization apart.
  4. Position and develop your firm's capabilities as a great teaming partner.
  5. Gain a deep understanding of how government schedules and vehicles work.
  6. Build a disciplined capture planning process.

Based on our experience working with government contractors this is excellent advice! However, based on a recent discussion with Tim we offer a 7th growth strategy:

7. Begin to Build an Aligned Leadership Team

As with most young companies, GovCons start with a handful of smart, enterprising individuals who have a set of expertise and relationships. These individuals do the hard and often complicated work of acquiring a first contract and then work diligently to deliver on the contract requirements. After initial success they begin to leverage their first contract and expand within and beyond their initial customer. This requires the addition of resources to grow, deliver and manage the basic infrastructure. Pretty soon these individuals are no longer doing all of the work; they are managing others to do the work. 

This is a key inflection point for growing companies. The leaders who actually step back and think through how they are going to lead create leadership teams that serve as force multipliers for their organizations. Those who don't do this important nurturing work often create leadership teams that become organizational impediments. Below are a few important steps for setting a new leadership team up for success:

Define the leadership team's purpose. The CEO needs to define what cross-organizational focus that he/she needs this group of people to tackle that no one else in the organization is positioned or capable of carrying out.

Establish a disciplined management rhythm. Assuming that a basic growth strategy has been developed, the management rhythm should provide adequate and regular time for the team to monitor and discuss progress (i.e., monthly) as well as time for addressing tactical issues and challenges (i.e., weekly). An important part of the management rhythm is effective vehicles for disseminating information up, down and across the organization.

Preempt natural relational tensions. Stress and tension are unfortunately part of the growth of any young organization - there usually aren't enough resources, people are navigating new environment, leaders come from different backgrounds and experience. Unfortunately, there is no magic solutions for eliminating the stress and tension but great leaders take some time for their teams to get to know each other, establish principles for how they are going to behave as a team, and model relationship basics such as listening, giving a receiving feedback, and adapting a learning mindset to deal with inevitable set backs.

Great leadership teams never succeed by accident. Without nurturing, leadership teams can actually become organizational impediments.

Jack McGuinness