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Every company wants to grow their business, yet few know how to sustain it for the long-term or look beyond the next quarterly or yearly report. Growing a business requires the right intellectual capital, carefully selected strategic partnerships, and products and/or services with strong marketplace demand. Beyond these fundamentals, sustaining growth requires a strong operational foundation – to reduce the risks to the business over time.
One of my clients has been in business for more than 15 years. They are a technology company with a strong value proposition and service offering. But while the business model is scalable, it lacks a strong foundation from which to confidently invest in its growth. The CEO knows that business revenue can exceed five times its existing base of $250 million (that is profitable), but there is a lack of top talent, inconsistent operational efficiencies and overall leadership that is afraid to face growth head-on. This slows down growth and makes it difficult to consistently service clients, design a workplace culture that can help employees thrive, build the right teams to increase productivity, and form the external partnerships to make the right strategic decisions to create a billion dollar organization.
One might say that being a $250 million business is good enough and – for the aforementioned reasons – it should be sold to an organization that has the readiness to grow and sustain it, rather than investing good money without knowing the probability for favorable ROI.
This scenario is all too common and many CEOs – whether small business or Fortune 500 – are often faced with this dilemma. Unfortunately, many business leaders think only about the here and now – rather than focusing on the potential for future growth and sustainability. They find themselves growing complacent – rather than thinking about how to solve for the issues at hand. Building a strong business model and value proposition is not enough; if operational infrastructure, decision-making and leadership are weak, this does not provide for a sustainable long-term growth solution.
Before your business can grow and sustain its momentum, you must take action in support of the following six things to assure your company builds a strong foundation for long term success:
1. Top Talent
Without the right people, a business can’t grow and it certainly makes it difficult to sustain momentum over time. Business is about people and without the right people a business can’t grow and mature. Oftentimes, this requires an organization to refresh its talent pool in support of the organization’s business model and the unique needs of its clients.
Reassess your talent and ask yourself this question: Is your current talent pool servicing your clients and identifying the right opportunities to create and sustain business growth? Are they enabling their passionate pursuits in search of endless possibilities in their work? Take this quiz and see if your teams are able to effectively see, sow, grow and share opportunities in their work. If you score over 35, you are in good shape. If not, you have some work to do.
2. Operational Efficiencies
Efficiencies drive costs down and embed a mindset within the workplace culture that makes people sensitive to costs and ways to streamline how the organization communicates, operates and connects the dots of opportunities. This helps to assure that activities within the organization are in alignment with the needs of the business to create and sustain growth.
The best way to create operational efficiencies is to assure that the workplace culture supports the tools to drive efficiencies within the organization – by design – not by accident. To learn more, here are six organizational values to create and sustain growth through an efficiencies-driven mindset. In the end, your organization must embrace a cultural promise that stands by the following motto: Success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue.
3. Prospecting the Right Clients
Entrepreneur is no longer just a business term anymore, it’s a way of life. You must always embrace an entrepreneurial attitude to see and seize the right opportunities – especially those previously unseen or that others don’t see at all. This is why you must embrace an entrepreneurial spirit when prospecting the right clients –to assure the business not only grows, but sustains itself over time.
Generating sales is all relative. If you are selling to clients whose business needs are not sustainable – this represents a zero sum game. If you don’t have the right mechanisms in place to prospect the right clients, you will find it difficult to sustain growth – let alone grow at all.
Embracing an entrepreneurial attitude allows you to see beyond the obvious and spot the best clients in support of your business model. This keeps acquisition costs low and assures client relationships are mutually beneficial and goals are in alignment.
4. Sound Decision Making
Problem solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do. As leaders, the goal is to minimize the occurrence of problems – which means we must be courageous enough to tackle them head-on. We must be resilient in our quest to create and sustain momentum for the organization and people we serve.
When an organization has the protocols, the standard operating procedures in place to solve problems and make sound decisions, they have enabled the ability to anticipate the unexpected to assure that circumstances don’t force their hand.
It’s difficult to sustain growth when you operate in an environment where people are constantly being overly reactive, rather than proactive. Sound decision making is a matter of good judgment and the ability to identify good timing and depth – to assure that momentum is created and never disrupted.
5. Great Leadership
The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers and thus have the circular vision to see opportunity in everything. Having done it – made decisions – so many times throughout their careers, great leaders will become immune to pressure situations and extremely intuitive about casting strategic, long-term plans for the future.
Sustaining business growth demands leadership that can see the glass as half full – even when everyone else is seeing it as half empty.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Grow
To sustain growth, you must have the mindset of embracing risk as your best friend. The moment that employees are not encouraged to share their ideas and ideals, it becomes difficult to take ownership of the needs of the business – and the marketplace quickly begins to pass you by.
Sustaining growth requires you to share your momentum with others. It demands that you have the best interests of others on your team, and colleagues throughout the organization, at heart. Driving sustainable growth can never happen alone. It not only demands a strong team, but collaborative departments/business units that together make up a strong ecosystem with the right intellectual capital.
When diversity of thought is embraced, it serves as a powerful unifier to leverage unique thinking and the opportunities associated with it – to sustain growth.
When sustainability becomes part of your organizational central ethos, you’re not only better able to sustain business growth – you’re able to remain five steps ahead of the game. To get there, leaders must be potent pioneers — blazing new paths few would see through to the end, let alone go down in the first place. This can fuel opportunities previously unseen and infuse the workplace and employee engagement with new-found purpose and excitement – further sustaining the growth of the business.
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