Breaking Big – 10 steps to success

Building a specialist civil engineering business

In Breaking Big, 10 steps are identified to grow a business. This case study illustrates how the steps in the book were used to build a profitable specialist civil engineering business with a turnover of £2m in 18 months.

In the recent recession a construction company was looking for new markets (Step 5 – having a vision to maintain turnover levels) as opportunities in their existing markets reduced. Scanning the competitors (Step 6 – know your market) it was noticed that a competitor was closing a civil engineering division which specialised in works along rivers. The work still existed as damage occurred to structures along the rivers from ships striking them and river walls were required to create development land ready for when the recession eased. So why were they closing the division?

By looking reviewing their operating model (Step 7 – look in the mirror) it could be seen their delivery model was not efficient, delivery staff were unoccupied between projects. By changing the operating model the cost of unoccupied delivery staff could be eliminated.

There was a need to stand out from the crowd (Step 8) so a review of what the business was really about was carried out by looking a client needs (Step 4). Prime development land requires no intrusions in the development land so the designs were modified to remove any intrusions. Although this cost more, it was more attractive to the developers and they had no hesitation employing the company in preference to competitors because the value of the development land far exceed the cost of using the enhanced design.

A team was recruited to operate in a new way (Step 10 – reset button) and a sales plan (step 9) drawn up. In 18 months the first project was delivered and a pipeline of profitable work secured.