What do you do when you think that your business is losing steam? You've been successful. You and your team have advanced it from its humble beginnings to a point of profitability where the desire to grow any further is waning. Your staff is tired and the ideas needed to extend it any further are lack-luster and difficult to develop.
This scenario is not uncommon. Businesses often grow past a management team's abilities to continue to drive profitable growth. When this happens, a change in leadership is required to revitalize the business. It is in this stage of evolution that such changes are routinely made. But, what happens when it is you that inherits the throne?
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Renew Focus--Usually there's been some "sprawl" in the business during its growth spurts. Examine all of the products and services that your business now offers and determine which ones are most profitable and the ones that hold the greatest potential to grow and prospers. Double-down on those business areas by shifting investments away from lower performing business interests.
- Re-Align Talent--Be sure that your personnel are better aligned to reflect the renewed focus areas. Redeploy the "best and brightest" to the places in your business where they can make the greatest impact. In this way, you stack the deck for success and reduce the risk of investing in growth areas.
- Optimize and "Right-Size" Support Functions--During periods of transition, support areas like IT, Marketing, HR, and Finance, often don't get the attention that they deserve in order to be positioned to continue to deliver the "right" services to their internal customers. Take a look at those support areas, retool their processes so that they'll align with the firm's new direction (e.g., what worked when your business was smaller may not work when you're larger) and retool those areas with people who have the skills and competencies needed to support future growth.
- Redefine Compensation Models--Make sure that everyone is working on achieving the same goals. If I'm only compensated on my book of business, then chances are very high that I'm not helping my colleague build hers. If you want to be successful over time, change the mindset of the business to one where staff feel like they are "in it together." This is done by aligning compensation and rewarding everyone on the growth and profitability of the "whole" business (and, not just on the part of the business that they work within).
- Lose the Dead Weight - Once compensation models are properly aligned, it is essential to recognize that not all boats should rise equally. So, be sure to determine exit strategies for the bottom 10% of your contributors. This exercise can help to move the rest of business out of its comfort zone, too. If a business goes through this "thinning" exercise consistently over time, sluggishness never sets in. New talent is regularly brought in to renew the energy level and raise the business past its perceived limits--whatever they may happen to be.
- Institute "Stickiness" - We all want our businesses to become indispensable. This "stickiness" can be accomplished with a focus on customer intimacy. Define what your customers want from your business by putting yourself in their shoes. Learn what keeps them up at night. Identify their greatest challenges--once that's done, determine how you can help them in some way.
- Align Measurements with Desired Behavior--People work by what is measured. So, measure outcomes, not effort. Determine which measurements generate the desired change in behavior, while generating growth and profitability. Put those in place, manage to them and monitor results.
All being well, I hope that you find some of the ideas presented here to be helpful in forging and informing your approach to reenergizing and driving your business forward. These 7 tips are tried and true. But, they need your effort to make them work for your business.