If the topic of revenue growth comes up in every management meeting, sales meeting, or board meeting – then you need to keep reading. Nine out of ten owners I speak with have companies that are functionally stagnant. That is, whatever growth they do have does not exceed the economic growth of their industry, market, or region. A company with an average revenue growth over time of 5% is barely keeping up with the economy in some sectors and is falling behind in many.
Business Owners tell me all the time how important growth is to their future, but when I ask what they are doing about it – I hear crickets. It’s as if setting a goal was the same as achieving it. I want to share with you the five keys to growing intentionally. These keys will provide you both clarity and context in support of the commitment to grow your business.
In order to grow, small companies need to reserve some “Entrepreneurial Bandwidth” in order for the owner to stay focused on new ideas, new products, and new markets. The best tool for that is a strong management team that responds well to the phrase, “Figure it out.”
Steady Stream of Prospects
There are very few industries in which hiring more salespeople actually drives more sales. Sales growth comes from quality leads, which come from effective marketing, which thrives on strong branding. Too many companies neglect marketing and brand and instead apply the more expensive brute force of direct selling.
Ability to Process Leads
OK, now this is where additional salespeople might help. However, processing leads can also be automated and standardized. Customer Service Representatives can help identify high value leads that need the attention of salesperson. Electronic marketing and website forms and responses can help sort leads even before they reach your CSR’s. Processing leads also means the ability to efficiently create proposals – even for complex services.
Unlimited Operational Capacity
The inability to scale operational response is perhaps the biggest constraint to growth in small companies. If your internal capacity is limited, then in order to grow you have to be able to scale up quickly. However, growth is often irregular or seasonal, which makes it more difficult to confidently predict need. The solution is outsourcing of labor or project contracting. For many small businesses, having a real employee execute a deliverable is a big part of their value proposition. However, consumers are becoming more indifferent to who performs the work as long as the outcome meets expectations. Finding scalable solutions to address capacity is a fundamentally important key to growth.
Access to Capital
Growth often requires quick access to capital to fund infrastructure and research, finance short-term cash flows, and make strategic investments. Having capital or lines of credit in place means those companies can respond faster to strategic growth opportunities. The wrong time to look for money is when you really need it!
There you have it: Five things that you can work on today to improve your growth potential tomorrow. Leaving out a puzzle piece will weaken your ability to grow profitably and quickly. Small businesses in particular need to pay attention to each element because even a small effort at lead generation and processing will pay off. And, you may not have a big bank line of credit, but you do have credit cards and reserves that can be earmarked for strategic purposes instead of operational needs.
Some companies are just lucky about growth, the rest of us need to work at it. Dedicate your efforts to growing intentionally.