Growth Barriers – Part 1

By Mike Philie
In April 25, 2008

I got a call from a colleague from my past this week and we were discussing the state of commercial printing companies. He asked me why I thought some printing companies get to a certain size and then have a difficult time growing past that? We were talking specifically about sheet fed businesses and the revenue ceiling might be $2.5MM, $10MM or it could be $30MM or more. Why is this?

We know that as companies gather steam they begin to create policies and procedures about how to handle the work, how they treat their people and suppliers and how they manage their financial resources.

One observation might be that they simply outgrow their current policies and without making the necessary adjustments, these policies actually hold back the continued growth of the company. Management structure sometimes is a deterrent as the company outgrows the existing capacity to provide the necessary guidance and leadership to take the company to the next level. I've seen owners and top managers who work their tail off “in” the business, and have little time or energy left to work “on” the business. It’s a fine line and leads to quite a juggling act!

Sometimes the companies are happy at their current size and their focus on making more money-nothing wrong with that at all!

I have my other suspicions about why companies get “stuck” and I’ll share those over the next couple of weeks. More importantly, I’d really be interested in what your thoughts are on this industry wide issue.

Add your comments to this blog or if you’d rather, send me an email at

Mike Philie

Mike works with printing companies that are not satisfied with their sales and business development performance, and are looking to get objective advice and strategic direction on how to improve the results of their business. His engagements can range from providing input on the overall sales strategy to building business development pipelines while training the processes of “selling” in today’s marketplace. Mike quickly establishes himself as a trusted resource and advisor to the owners and senior staff of his client companies through his personal involvement, and very quietly and effectively becomes an extension of their staff.

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