I would say that most of my conversations with owners about their businesses will circle back to the need for growth. More revenue, more profit, more customers, more market share, more products, more services… And what is almost sure to follow is plea for growth that doesn’t involve, well…growing. As in, “Our goal is to grow this year, but not in October because we are already busy that month…”
The simple truth is that in order to grow, you have to do more business than before. You will have to stress the system one way or another. There are no shortcuts, no tricks to soften the impact. You can’t just call it “organic” growth and slip it past the team. Real, permanent growth requires preparation, marketing, management, and celebration. And stress. There will be surprises. You’ll work late. You’ll spend money you did not plan on. You might give up, but you will still suffer the unexpected ups and downs.
Sometimes, companies do grow without forethought, but these are the same companies that shrink unexpectedly, so let’s not embrace that paradigm.
You do have an alternative. It’s called Intentional Growth. It involves identifying the steps that will lead to more business, creating a scalable response mechanism to the demand, and preparing to respond quickly and definitively to surprises along the way. It means choosing the stress that you are willing to deal with. Intentional Growth does not compromise on expectations. You will maintain quality and service. You will apply the pricing model you carefully researched. You will follow through with the marketing even when you are unsure how well it will work. You will say yes to new opportunities and new customers. You will look forward to the surprises. And, you will make changes to the plan when necessary.
Stay positive. Not everyone will like your new direction, but you will find the right ways to help those customers through the transition. You will need capital that you have avoided tapping in the past, but you will call it an investment instead of a ‘cash hit’. Some employees may not agree with the plan. You will them every opportunity to make the plan better, but do not negotiate away your goals.
Intentional Growth won’t eliminate stress on you and your team, but you can choose what kinds of pressure you are willing to take on. If there is demand for what you do, if you have competition, then you can grow. The question is, will you do the things that assure it?