In the first part of this article series, Boom or Bust - Part I: Why You Need to Reshape Your Company as it Grows, we covered why reshaping is an integral part of a company's success. However, understanding why is only half the battle. The other half is determining the best ways in which to reshape, refine, and re-tune your company as it expands.
This can be a challenge as there is no "one size fits all" secret to success. But there are certain tried and true measures you can take to ensure you're growing your business in the right direction.
Have a crystal clear vision at the start
Back to our ice sculpture analogy from part 1--it is imperative for the sculptor to have a crystal clear vision of what the final artwork will look like before chipping away at the ice. If the artist starts hacking at the ice without any clarity, they could destroy the foundation on which they started. The resulting sculpture may be crude and it will be difficult for onlookers to figure out what it's supposed to be.
For businesses, the last thing you want is for customers to look at your company and not know what it is that you offer.
Take Southwest as an example. Since its start in 1971, this airline has boasted 43 consecutive years of annual profitability--a feat no other U.S. airline has ever managed to do. Many attribute Southwest's success to founder and former CEO, Herb Kelleher, and his tenacious commitment to the vision of the company. According to the book Made to Stick, Kelleher reportedly stated at one time, "I can teach you the secret to running this airline in 30 seconds. This is it: 'We are the low-fare airline.' Once you understand that fact you can make any decision about this company's future as well as I can."
Because of Kelleher's dedication to this vision, the company was able to grow and remain profitable as other airlines struggled and declared bankruptcy. Today, Southwest customers know exactly what to expect when they book a Southwest flight, and trust that the airline will provide them with low fares.
Chip away at your vision over time
In a 1999 C-Span 2 video, Jeff Bezos stated, "Our vision at Amazon.com is to be the world's most customer-centric company. We don't view ourselves as a bookstore or a music store. We view ourselves as a customer store."
Amazon has certainly expanded well beyond books and music as they now offer cloud storage services (Amazon Web Services), media content (Amazon Media Group), electronics and hardware (Echo, Alexa, Kindle, etc.), and nearly every kind of item you could imagine purchasing.
If Amazon tried to offer all of these services and products at inception, the company would have burned itself out years ago. This is why it's important to not only have your vision, but to chip away at it patiently and with purpose over time. Take small, measured steps that all build into the company's overall goal.
It's also important to note that at no point in time did Amazon rest on its laurels--the company was and is constantly looking for ways to improve processes and operations. The most current example of this is Prime Air, Amazon's drone-based delivery service that is still in development. With Prime Air, we can see that, even to this day, Amazon is still trying to perfect the buying and shipping process for its customers.
Control expansion and open new locations with intention
When sales start to spike, it's difficult to rein in the excitement and desire to expand. However, ensuring that each new office, warehouse, or storefront is opened deliberately and as part a well-thought out plan is imperative.
This is something we encountered when opening additional offices at Centric Digital. Our company was growing at impressive speeds and we needed more space, but when we launched our new offices there were a few unforeseen issues.
From firsthand experience, I can tell you it's important to consider what the environment and culture of those new spaces will look like. This is especially true if the new office is lacking an on-site CEO or upper-level executive team. These leaders are vital when it comes to spreading and promoting the vibe and vision of the company. We tend to focus solely on logistics when opening a new space--but the type of environment and culture we are providing to employees is equally as important.
In the upcoming third part of this article series, we will explore how people, culture, and HR are also critical components to the ongoing reshaping your company will require as you grow over time.