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Doing more with less Featured

9:37am EDT July 22, 2002

This may appear to be a simple question for most entrepreneurs, but in reality, how you embrace the business market over the next few years will affect your growth potential and existence. What we are really talking about is the ultimate survival issue.

Let's examine what the current and recent past marketplaces have produced. We are loosing 2,000 to 3,000 jobs per day in the United States. Approximately 72 percent of all U.S. mergers and acquisitions have been financial failures over the last 10 years. Is it possible that what we think of as creative business thinking may not working?

What about the 150 mph pace we have become accustomed to? Was it not just a few years ago that we were happy with a 286 computer?

We can't find workers to fill our demand. And if we can, how many are really dependable enough to show up every day, and for how long? What is the answer? How can I still grow my business? How can I still be competitive?

I have dealt with survival and growth issues for 10 years. I have restructured, sold off divisions and created services in response to the markets and have utilized all the creative business thinking I could muster.

As I entered my 10th year of business, I realized that my business, SACS Consulting, had to confront these pressing issues and I started analyzing newer business trends.

I discovered that mergers and acquisitions will continue. There is simply too much money available and the economy is too strong for them not to. But, what about the small- and medium-sized businesses that comprise the majority of American business? What is the answer for them? Partnerships. You are going to see a trend in a new type of partnership between businesses and competitors.

Company A will examine the services and products it provides. It will focus on and maintain its strengths. It will find Company B to provide the additional services and products it needs. Both companies may find Company C to assemble the products or market the services. The key is that each company only performs in its strength areas instead of trying to do it all.

I recently formed a partnership organization called Workplace Solutions Group. After several clients requested additional consulting services, I had to decide what I could and wanted to provide. Did I really want to invest money and time and search for personnel, etc., to expand our services, or was there a better way? I decided to stay focused on our strengths, but add the ability to solve other issues our clients faced.

The partnership group of Workplace Solutions Group has provided that avenue. SACS Consulting can now deliver consulting on issues including OHSA/safety, environmental, workers' compensation, repetitive motion injury and urine/hair drug testing.

I am seeing a trend in which competitors come together to form these unique relationships. Even in the mergers and acquisitions arena, partnerships are being formed to better manage the newly acquired entities.

But for these partnerships to work, you must work at them just like you work at your business. Workplace Solutions Group meets every month to discuss our action plan for the year, our joint marketing strategy and how we can improve. We are going to plan joint training seminars, joint mailings and creative coordinated business efforts.

This is where the difference is today. The partnership is formed and worked on as if each entity participating were one of your company's divisions. Workplace Solutions Group requires specific responsibilities of each participating company.

As a result, our service has increased, our reputation has grown, but our additional overhead has been minimal. I now have six to eight established organizations marketing our services on a regular basis. I couldn't afford this type of expansion if I had to do it all myself.

When I sought out companies to partner with, I was overwhelmed and shocked by the response. We sold out our available office space in our new building within 45 days and now have a waiting list.

These companies saw and embraced the opportunity this new and creative thinking presents. Timothy A. Dimoff is president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services. He can be reached at (330) 633-9551 or www.sacsconsulting.com.