Growth is the gasoline to your business's engine. It's what pushes you forward towards creating bigger teams, solving bigger issues and ultimately creating more revenue. As a leader in your company, focusing on growing the company should one of your primary focal points.
However, it's easy for growth to take a back seat to managing the day-to-day, focusing only on what's in front of you.
You set sail the day you incorporated your business or took that management position. Setting sail is one thing, but knowing where you're going is another.
The long and short: Growth is important.
I lost sight of growth at my company. For the first three years of our marketing agency's existence, we experienced between 30-40 percent yearly growth. Things were good.
Or, so I thought. The following year we grew five percent, a figure I wasn't happy with. It would have been easy to blame market conditions, clients cutting budgets or team members underperforming. But those weren't the reasons we didn't grow.
We didn't grow because I didn't prioritize it as a leader. I didn't make the proper adjustments to enable growth or even handle it for that matter.
I was the bottleneck, period. And it took a year of financials put in my face for me to realize it. Over the course of the next year, I made growth the number one metric I would be held accountable for as the company's CEO.
That year, we grew 50 percent. Here are the three lessons I learned, and the pitfalls you avoid in your own business:
1. You're relying on past victories.
Your past wins got you to where you are. They won't take you to where you're going. As an entrepreneur and leader, you have to continually move the finish line further ahead of you.
Becoming complacent should be a real worry for you. The old adage that "good is the enemy of great," is true.
When you first start your business you're eager to grow, because it's necessary for your survival. The motivation towards growth during your first year should be how you approach growth in all years past it.
2. You're working in the business more than on the business.
This is the most common paralyzer of business growth that I see. It's where the management is too consumed with working in the business that they never work on the business.
We've all seen the pizza shop owner who slaves over a hot oven 12 hours a day making pizzas and serving customers. That type of owner lets the day-to-day work consume them, and they're unable to ever find a minute to work on growing their business.
For me, I was working on client projects as we had a full load of work, and that can seem like it's good business. But what if that work dried up? My company would be screwed.
Now, regardless of what's happening, I carve out four hours every Friday to work on long-term planning. During those hours, I try and remove myself from working in the business as much as possible.
3. You're not prioritizing sales.
The majority of your business problems could be solved with increased sales. Yet, so many leaders of companies look to refine and focus on systems, partnerships, and other parts of the business instead of prioritizing sales.
You need to have a pipeline and customer acquisition strategy in place to make growth a priority. Who is your next customer? And how will you get them to buy from you? And how can you get them to come back?
One of the most overlooked ways to growth (and fast) is through your existing customers. A 2014 Bain & Company study showed that increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25-95 percent.
You need to look at other ways you can give value to your customers and monetize that process. At my company, we started with writing content for brands and then realized quickly there was a high demand for custom video creation (and we could do that).
So, we made our first video on spec to show our existing clients our capabilities. From our existing clients, we were able to add close to 30 percent to our yearly sales, simply from offering additional services.
Give it a try. See what happens.