“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney
We’ve been pushing people this year to think about growth, and while everyone’s initial reaction is excitement, that excitement usually changes to hesitation fairly rapidly. The question usually is, “How do we go about doing that?” Good question.
First, let’s all be clear about one thing. Growth takes WORK. It doesn’t just happen, and you don’t just fall into it. No organization has ever had any meaningful growth without meaningful effort. It just doesn’t work that way. If you’re not interested in work, then growth probably isn’t for you.
With that said, if you’re stuck when it comes to growth, try thinking about it this way:
- Think about who your ideal customers are. Who do you really want to do business with? I don’t just mean you should list 5 specific new customers. I mean, think about what characteristics your ideal customer would have. What industry are they in? What size are they? Are they new businesses, or ones that have been around for awhile? If you were creating the perfect customer from scratch, how would they look?
- Once you really understand what your ideal customer looks like, ask yourself this: What issues & challenges will those kinds of customers be facing over the next 3-5 years? What specific needs will those issues & challenges create? If you don’t know, then you don’t understand your market well enough & you need to do some research.
- Now that you know what they’ll need, be honest: What products or services do you offer that will help them meet those issues & challenges? Unfortunately, many businesses are out there trying for growth with products or services that don’t solve customers’ problems. They’re trying to grow by selling products, rather than outcomes. Good luck with that.
- More honesty: assuming your products & services can meet a need, how good are you at delivering them? In other words, no matter how great & useful your product is, if you can’t deliver it at a high level nobody will want to buy it from you – they’ll find somebody else. Rate your products & services. Where do you struggle? More importantly, what are you doing to do to improve?
None of that will lead to automatic growth, but asking yourself those questions is at least a start. And here’s one for the road: Ask yourself what you won’t do. One of the keys to success in business and life is knowing what to say “no” to. Some people try to grow by being everything to everyone. That’s a recipe for failure (not to mention burnout). Understand who you are, and what you will and won’t do.
Growth takes work and it’s a journey. Roll up your sleeves and start moving today. You won’t regret it.