Ok. So there are probably a lot of reasons why your business might be growing more slowly than you’d like. It could be the economic climate; the post-recession economy hasn’t exactly been growing at a rapid clip. It could be that you’ve entered a crowded marketplace that doesn’t have a lot of room for growth right now. It might even be (sadly) on the management end of things; a little more efficiency in your day-to-day could give you the margins you need to expand.
But there are concrete things you can look for to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to enable and promote growth.
- Revenue Over Profitability
This is a place lots of businesses find themselves in. And it’s actually a fantastic strategy early on, when you’re trying to establish yourself; you’ll take any business you can get, because there is only one thing you’re worried about: fueling short-term growth and getting experience. That’s super important – but it’s not the behavior of a mature established business.
Unfortunately, lots of businesses never actually get around to learning how to break this habit, and have a nasty addiction to revenue. But what revenue really means at that point is that cash goes in – and cash goes out. If you aren’t working to improve your margins, you’re never going to be able to build the capital that growth requires; instead you’ll spend all your time paddling to stay afloat.
The thing is that once you’re in this cycle, it’s very difficult to escape. But you need to try, and that means figuring out who you want to be working with, and what their lifetime value as a client is. You need to develop a growth-oriented client base that will help your company stand on solid ground.
- You Aren’t Picky Enough
Dovetailing off the above, pickiness matters. And by “pickiness,” I mean that you need to stop wasting energy responding to every inquiry and instead develop a thorough client screening process that helps you sort the wheat from the chaff. That means you don’t even talk to bad fit clients in the first place, limiting your exposure to potential clients who won’t help you keep your business moving in the right direction.
- You Aren’t Filling Your Sales Funnel
What are you doing to keep leads coming in at all? Keeping your sales funnel full is what ensures you’ve got a steady stream of people to talk to, and can be the difference between making rent and a red “closed forever” label on Yelp. You can’t just hang out your shingle and hope that business will come your way; you have to make sure the people you want to work with know about you. And there are lots of ways to accomplish this: content marketing, search engine optimization, blogging, social media, and more. But if you aren’t doing the work and laying the foundation for growth, you’re missing out on all the business in the world.
- “Getting It Done” Over “Doing The Right Thing”
Another trap businesses fall into is getting lost in the minutia of completing tasks without making sure those tasks fit into a larger plan that serves your business goals. It happens really easily; you just get so caught up in making sure projects are finished on time that eventually you just have deadlines that don’t serve a larger purpose and projects that keep you busy but don’t grow your company.
You need to assess and reassess your activities on a weekly basis to make sure you’re doing the highest-value activities you can – and to make sure they’re aligning with your strategy for the rest of the quarter. Don’t just ask “does it sell cars?” Ask “does it sell the right cars?”
- Too Little Structure – Or Too Much
This is a dangerous tightrope, but it’s one you must walk successfully. Any business needs structure in order to thrive; structure ensures great outcomes, efficient operations, and cost-effective activities. But be careful: Too little, and you can never guarantee quality. Too much, and you turn your employees into miserable, micromanaged drones who will only do what they are told – and never bring unexpected value or autonomous, critical, and creative thinking to the table. And that means you end up locked in, limited in perspective, trodding endlessly in the same direction, stuck with a menu of services that deliver mediocre results at best.
If you want growth, you need to provide your employees with room to grow and ways to demonstrate their value. Because that translates into more business opportunities for you.
In other words, if you want to grow, you need to be priming your business for growth, and that’s a matter of putting the systems in place to help make it happen. Being business growth-oriented means getting out of the day-to-day rut and thinking seriously about the future, including expanding your profit margins, developing a better client base, and freeing up your team to deliver higher value. So get a plan together to see you all the way there.