The success of your business doesn’t just rely on your product, your brand, or your marketing strategy. It also relies on you, the owner. It’s your job not only to oversee the everyday operations of your business, but also to take a step back and look at the big picture.
There are 7 priorities that you should consider when deciding what you want your company to become, and where you want it to go. The priority I’d like to discuss today is growth and its fundamental qualities.
Growth is essential.
Growth is always the goal. What you’re trying to achieve with that growth – that is, why you’re growing your business– is the part that tends to change. Very rarely is a business founded on the principles of straight profit. Usually, there’s something deeper at stake – and growth is the only way to get it.
We’ve all heard the saying “if your business isn’t growing, it’s dying.” It might seem quaint, but for the most part, it’s true. (Granted, if you’re a boutique shop with a very specific offering, you might thrive and stay the same size forever. There are always exceptions.)
Growth isn’t a foolproof indicator of success, but it’s a pretty darn good one. Increasing sales indicate an interest in your product or service. It’s the market saying, “we want what you have.” If they’re not saying that, chances are your market appeal is in trouble.
Struggling to break even – to live to fight another day – is not a sustainable business model in the long-term. If you want to survive, you have to grow. And it’s not just about pushing a new marketing campaign or launching a new product. It’s about your mindset, your company culture, and your plans for the future.
Growth is specific.
Every growth plan is different. And that’s how it should be. You should never try to force your business to fit into a template growth plan that it’s not suited to. Your individual growth plan needs to be unique and specific to the needs and abilities of your business.
What I mean is: if you’re a single-employee startup, you probably shouldn’t jump straight to buying two offices. It’s probably better to start with hiring a few more employees.
Your growth plan is heavily affected by where you want to go as a company. This ties back to your mission and your beliefs. Take Miguel Guajardo, for instance. Miguel owns and operates a concrete business in California, but he also has a dream of providing “economic opportunities for [his] customers, [his] employees and [his] community.”
Because Miguel knows what he wants his business to be, he’s able to build a specific growth plan around that vision. He can take avenues and look out for opportunities that directly align with his philanthropic dreams – and bring revenue.
Looking at what has worked for other businesses in the past is a good place to start. But when it comes down to it, you’re not growing someone else’s business. You’re growing your own. “The only danger,” according to growth guru John Warrillow, “comes when you think you want one thing but act as though you’re chasing something else.”
Growth is personal.
You may not want to hear this, but growth isn’t just about your business. It’s also very personal to you, the owner. If your mindset isn’t geared towards growth, you’re dooming yourself to failure.
Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth and creator of the EOS model, puts it best. He says that owners often struggle to make “the shift from thinking like a ‘technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure,’ in which [the owner] built a business that depended on him or her, to thinking like an entrepreneur.”
Gerber explains that “thinking like an entrepreneur” means stepping away from the compulsive need to control every little thing and force your business to grow. It means looking at the bigger picture, and trusting the strategies you have in place – as well as trusting your employees – to allow the business to grow on its own.
Of course, it’s not a hands-off experience. But every small business reaches a point where it starts working – where you no longer have to roll up your sleeves and get down in the mud every day to stay afloat. And then it becomes a big picture thing.
Allow your mindset to shift from survival to growth. Only then can you start growing – revenue, customer base, locations, or whatever else you might want.
Growth is not easy.
Thinking long-term can be a major adjustment for some people. And developing a solid growth plan doesn’t always mean things are going to go exactly like you want. There will be roadblocks, and you’ll have to adapt. It won’t be smooth.
John Warrillow suggests that when thinking about growth, “Focus on building a great company, not a big one.”
If you start trying to build a house on bad foundations, you’re going to regret it very quickly. You’ll wish you’d spent more time on the foundations, getting everything right and stable before you started building up and out. A business is the same. If the basic components aren’t good, expanding isn’t going to fix it.
When you’re growing your business – whether it’s to increase revenue, to expand your community outreach, to plant roots in more locations, or to sell – you need to decide on a plan and stick to it. “What you want to avoid is mixing [objectives],” Warrillow says.
And if you prioritize growth above all else, you might have to be willing to sacrifice some things, like profit or personal concerns. It all depends on your own vision of your business. The road is tough, but if you stick to it, it will take you where you need to go.
The 7 Owner Priorities:
There are 7 priorities that you should consider when deciding what you want your company to become, and where you want it to go:
- Growth ✓
- Cost Management
Questions to consider:
- Have you ever grown a business too fast, without first working on the foundations?
- Has your mindset shifted out of “survival” mode? If so, do you think it’s time?
- Do you have a specific long-term growth plan? If not, do you at least know where you want your business to go?