Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said, "You're either growing or you're dying." A simple, yet deeply profound quote that points at how easy it is to become complacent in life and business, especially when things are going great. Why fix what's not broken, right?
Well, it's this mentality that becomes the death knell for many organizations, especially in today's rapid-paced, always-on environment. Continued growth in business is absolutely imperative to survival and maintaining market share.
But what does it take to increase a company's growth rate? It doesn't just happen -- it requires intentionality and getting the entire team off the bench and actively playing in the growth game. As with most business concepts that aim to drive growth and sustained success, it's not a one-and-done deal. It requires continual assessment of the end-to-end business and aligning your team around three key areas.
1. Take a hard look at performance
How is your company currently performing? If you take a hard, honest look at each your departments or functions how are you fairing and why? Has your team simply reached a comfortable, rote routine or are they continually challenging and looking for ways to improve and optimize performance, diversify or cut costs where possible?
Taking sales performance for instance, odds are good your business has one or two standout sales avenues that offer the lowest hanging fruit (and consequently get the bulk of your attention). Oftentimes, companies get stuck in the rut of relying heavily on their highest performing sales channel without giving much thought to improving it or looking at other avenues, and when the juice runs dry, they're in a world of hurt.
Instead of simply replicating whatever processes you've been using to achieve this success to date, reevaluate it. Are there ways you could grease this engine even more? Seemingly small tweaks in your already booming sales channels can create seismic jumps in your company's growth rate.
2. Identifying the white space
Is your team primed to continually be looking at opportunities to solve new pain points in the marketplace or new sectors of the market to explore? And if there are new areas to expand into or problems to solve, what are the products or services that can fulfill those needs?
Introducing new products and services can generate new revenue and growth, but you'll want to carefully weigh the opportunities against any potential drawbacks. Often it will require a reallocation of resources, as well as an investment of time and money, so the return has to be there. But keep in mind, sometimes it can be as simple as an add-on to what you're currently doing.
If there's an underserved and ancillary branch of your business that could be capitalized upon, it could open up entirely new revenue streams and move your organization into high-growth territory. The key is to get the entire team on board to actively listen to the needs of the customer and the marketplace, and contribute their feedback and ideas.
3. Reallocate for Returns
Have you asked yourself, objectively, which piece of your business is crippling growth? It might not be entirely overt, but with a little digging you can almost always identify what pathways you're pursuing that simply aren't delivering a strong yield. This is perhaps one of the most challenging endeavors in business --pulling the plug on endeavors you've invested in, but which simply aren't performing.
Instead of being disappointed or hanging on to an underperformer too long, think about it as freeing up your resources to turn the firehose on the areas where there's real opportunity. The point is you can oftentimes amplify your growth rate by more appropriately allocating your resources, and if you don't have the resources, what are the levers you can pull to get there?
Where to start
While each these areas and engaging the team are essential to growth, it has to start somewhere --and that somewhere is at the top. Leadership must champion a growth agenda --invest in it and actively think about and promote it.
Company leaders must have purpose-driven initiatives, define what a successful outcome of the growth game looks like, and outline a clear path for how to get there. They also must prioritize collaboration internally and with outside partners to avoid being self-siloed into "business as usual,"entrust others on the team, and foster cognitive diversity among the leadership to ensure diverse perspectives and points of view.
The mindset of growth doesn't happen overnight, but rather when your leadership team decides to be intentional. By investing in growth as a top management item, your team will naturally invest in it too - and your company will have no choice but to follow suit.