Change vs Growth - What's Next?
If there is anything that the past 18 months has taught us, it is that things happen in life that force us to change. Think about the changes that businesses have made in response to a random virus that shut-down the world’s economy. Employees were forced to wear masks at work, restaurants and stores installed plexiglass barriers to protect their employees, workers were locked out of their offices and forced to work from home, and so much more. Every segment of our economy has been impacted by the changes forced upon us and businesses had to adapt.
Some businesses thrived because of this unforeseen change in circumstances while others were nearly wiped out completely. Travel and tourism related industries ground to a halt while business that sell sporting goods like bikes, golf equipment, and surfboards, boomed. Technology companies soared while more traditional manufacturing companies were forced to close their doors. The changes that were thrust upon us resulted in some companies experiencing tremendous increases in revenue while others struggled to stay alive.
The impact, either positive or negative, had little to do with business strategy. It was mostly luck. Sure, there were companies and business leaders that responded well and took advantage of their good fortune or minimized the negative impact, but those were reactions to events that were out of their control. Good business leaders need to be ready to react to changing market conditions, because change is a constant. Nothing stays the same – at least not for very long.
However, reacting to change is not the same as growth. Sure, some companies experienced tremendous growth because of the changes in the marketplace, but that is more good fortune than anything else.
Growth is different from change. Growth is intentional. It requires planning and proactive decision-making. It’s a choice -not a reaction. Business leaders who choose a path towards growth, identify what needs to change and then make a plan to implement those changes. Good business leaders recognize growth as an on-going discipline to proactively change their business to meet the challenges faced.
In my work with business leaders, I have experienced companies that set a target for growth, but do not actually build a plan to accomplish that growth. It’s easy to declare that you want your revenues to grow by X% per year, but it’s much more difficult to actually put a plan together to do ensure that. happens. Many business leaders focus on building the machine to deliver their goods or services to the market, believing that this is enough to generate growth. They tend to be less aware of changing market conditions or new competitors, believing that their business will grow because it is what they hope for.
Growth requires discipline. Business leaders are forced to slow down long enough to look outside of their company and see what is going on. They must be willing to let go of the successes of yesterday and embrace the changes required for tomorrow.
One of the first things I do when working with a business leader that wants to grow revenue is to first review how he has gotten to where he is today. If the company sells a product or a service, we start with the best-selling product or market served, and do a thorough review of the product’s history over the past 3 years. We don’t just look at numbers, but we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the product. Some of the questions we ask are:
How do clients find us?
How do we generate, and nurture leads for our product or service?
What is our unique selling proposition or value proposition?
What is our competitors value proposition?
What is our sales process for this product or service?
What is the profile of our existing customer base?
Is there an opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell to this customer base?
What is our delivery capability?
How do we measure success?
Once completed, we go back and do it all again with the next product or service offering. Through this comprehensive review, we identify our current strengths and weaknesses so that we can prioritize the products or services that we are going to sell that will generate the most profitable growth for the business. We then assign revenue targets for each based on the priorities assigned. Finally, we establish an agreement that investment is prioritized to support these product or service offerings and that new products or service offerings are funded with new money to ensure that the changes required are addressed first.
Change will happen. However, these changes are defined in advanced, planned for, and executed in a proactive manner that drives towards growth. This is not growth as a result of random events or good luck. Instead, it is a purposeful, predetermined choice to change, to move towards a goal.
As we near the end of another year, it is time to start thinking about the changes that we will make next year. Are we going to react and hope for the best or are we going to be intentional about the changes we need to make in our businesses?
For those of you that are choosing to grow, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.