In business there is no such thing as standing still. So if you are not growing, you are in fact going backwards. But if growth matters, how you grow really matters. In the pursuit of profitable and sustainable growth, growth by itself isn’t the answer.
Being deliberate and disciplined in the pursuit of growth is really important to top-line growth translating to greater bottom-line profitability. And if it doesn’t, then why bother? As owner managers try to realise the full potential that exists within their business, getting the fundamentals right as a strong platform for growth is important. They can fail by growing either too fast or too slow.
I’m going to suggest that perhaps the best place to start is having a clear view of where you are heading – an explainable and compelling vision.
Given the relentless pace of change, markets that are more and more competitive and customers that are more and more knowledgeable and more and more demanding, growing a business is not for the faint hearted. How do you make sure the business raises its capacity and capability to handle growth as rapidly as it does its revenue line? How do you plan for the future when you can barely see what’s around the next corner? If strategy is about choices, how do you know which are the right ones to make?
After nearly 15 years of working with owner-managers of NZ businesses, we understand the wonderful traits that these hard-working, hard-driving entrepreneurs exhibit. They are great at seeing possibilities where others don’t. They are passionate and energetic. They love new challenges and are always striving to do things better. At the same time, there are moments for many of our owner-managers when confronting the tensions of growth that they lose their confidence and become unsure if they have what it takes to continue to drive the business forward. They question whether they have gone from being the biggest enabler of growth for their business to being the biggest inhibitor of growth.
Important to getting past these moments of doubt and mustering up the motivation and confidence to take the business to the next level, is getting real clarity about where the business is going and then being able to plan, including balancing short term and longer term goals. As one of our Owner Manager Programme alumni, Janene Draper from Farro Fresh, said, “Once I could picture the goal, stuff started to happen fast.”
Understanding that people and culture truly are critical to the ability of the business to grow and succeed means owner managers need to build their teams and communicate to get them aligned and heading in the same direction. World-renowned author Jim Collins says in Good to Great, “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” In fact Collins argues that the ‘who’ comes before the ‘where’. Either way, knowing where you are headed and having the right people in the organization to help you get there are key to achieving and sustaining growth.
So growth matters. But the pace and quantum of growth is based on choices. Bigger isn’t always better but realizing and maximizing the true performance potential of a business is not only rewarding it is right.
This blog is written by Liz Wotherspoon, Head of Growth at The Icehouse.