Self-Evident Truths of Business Growth

| February 28, 2021

There are several myths and truths to consider when an established business is on the threshold of growth.

Some assume that all growth is good, bigger is always better, and that a business must “grow or die.” In reality, growth can be good, or growth can be bad. If there is too much growth at too fast a pace, then it may overwhelm the people, processes and controls in place. Rather than the “grow or die” ultimatum being accurate, it is just as likely that a business could grow and die. “Improve or die” is a better goal.

The reality of business growth research shows that above-average growth is the exception, rather than the rule. What makes growth difficult is the requirement for things to change. Human beings can only change so fast. This means that profitable growth is more likely to be in spurts or in a zigzag pattern, rather than in a continuously straight line that shoots upward.

Business owners who want their business to have consistently high performance should consider the following key areas:

Strategic Focus. Does the business have “laser focus” on its goals and products? Laser beams cover a small area with great precision. Many times it is better to focus on a small number of items created with excellence, rather than producing a myriad of mediocre products/services.

Operational Excellence. Is the business delivering 99% error-free/defect-free products or services, delivered on time? Are the needs and expectations of customers being met or exceeded? Are mistakes being “made right” and then some? If not, then perhaps the best route to better business performance is in the area of improvements

Constant Improvement. Improvements to products, customer service and operational systems should be never-ending. Businesses can practice existing methods and get better at them. There may also be ways to do things more quickly and less expensively. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished!”

Customer-centricity. The common phrase “The customer is always right” is accurate on many levels. The customer truly is more important than the product being produced. Business owners and employees should listen to customer needs, and take action to ensure that those needs are being met. A company could make the best widget in the world, but if the customers don’t want widgets, then the effort to produce them is in vain.

High Employee Engagement. Does the company strive to hire and retain employees who care about the business and customers like the owners do? Employees like this are one of a business’s greatest assets. Often, the benefit to developing employees and helping them achieve their goals will far outweigh any cost involved.

Planning. When in growth mode, it pays to look ahead and ensure that sufficient structure (people and job duties) and infrastructure (space, furniture, equipment and technology needs) are in place to support the increase in workers, activity or volume. Building a business can be like building a house, where electrical outlets and plumbing should be pre-planned and in place for rooms that may be added in the future.

Prioritization. Strategic prioritization revolves around determining what will be sold to whom and why. This goes hand-in-hand with daily prioritization, which sometimes requires a “stop doing” list instead of a “to do” list. If you are spending time and funds in areas that do not contribute to the overall growth of the company, it may be preventing growth. Taking the time to identify and eliminate those activities creates more opportunity to focus on profitable products or services. Of course, prioritization also involves identifying and fighting the biggest “fires” and bottlenecks. Regular team “huddles” can help identify areas where leaders need to lend a hand or provide extra oversight.

Processes. While some might feel that instructions, processes and checklists are only for “detail people,” these tools are key to reaching business goals of defect-free and on-time delivery of products or services. For example, airline pilots don’t proceed with takeoff until going over each and every item, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, on their pre-flight checklist. In the same way, following procedures that have been thought out and implemented will minimize the chance for “crash landings” during business growth spurts.

Pace. As mentioned earlier in this series, people can only change so fast, which means that profitable growth is more likely to be in spurts or in a zigzag pattern, rather than in a continuous straight line, shooting upward. Ensuring that the right people are in the right place is essential to pacing growth. A “gas pedal approach” can keep growth moving forward without coming to a complete stop. When the changes seem to be overwhelming the team, easing the pressure a bit can allow time and space for the people and processes to catch up to all the changes taking place. Once the bumps in the road have passed, it will be time to “give it some gas” to speed things up again.

People. Wise leaders know that taking good care of their people will contribute immensely to their company’s success. Businesses don’t learn, improve and grow — the people do. It’s all about the people! Growth is often a smoother process when solid human resource processes (e.g. hiring, interviewing, orientation, performance review and firing) are in place. These are areas that, when overlooked or done badly, can create challenges for any business, regardless of growth.

Take a few minutes to rate your business on a scale of 1 to 10 in these areas of focus. A good score in these areas is a foundation for business growth.


This article was originally published by Ambassador Advisors © 2020, used by permission.  More information available at

Category: Entrepreneurs

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