A company needs to make some philosophical shifts to go from scrappy start-up to big expansion.
If you have been in a business for some time and it's not growing quickly, you can probably boil it down to one of three key reasons:
- You don't want to grow. Some entrepreneurs like the lifestyle pace of their business.
- You haven't accessed the resources to grow. Either people, money, market or suppliers are constrained and you are currently working on access to what you need.
- You haven't made the necessary business shifts to grow. If you have more ambition and all the resources you need but are still not growing as quickly as you would like, this may be your problem.
As start-ups develop, they often need to change the way they think about their products, their offerings and their customers. Here are three shifts your company may need to make, if it hasn't done so already.
1. From 'What' to 'Why'
In your company's early stages, it is natural to focus on your product or service. That's the "what" of your business; creating value for your customer comes from your organization's output. Then, as your market reach grows–especially in competitive markets–you differentiate yourself with delivery and service.
The growth shift comes next: Focus on the "why" of your company culture, the element that draws your most loyal and zealous customers. Scratch the surface of your favorite companies, even local haunts, and you will find a compelling "why." (To better understand your company's "why," read my earlier post, "Great Companies Start With Why.")
2. From More to Less
Starting up a business can be both exciting and frightening. Survival dictates that you sell as fast as you can as many as you can. This is how you establish your foundation of revenue and customers.
If you want to grow, however, selling more to more is not a margin builder, because you don't gain many efficiencies efficiencies in your effort and capital. The next shift you need to make is to change your market focus–instead of selling to everybody, redefine your competitive advantage (and expand your margins) by selling to the ideal customer.
3. From Heroes to Systems
Great, passionate people are must-have ingredients at any business, regardless of size. The growth challenge is in figuring out how to find and onboard those great people.
Your business can leverage its success by building flawless systems that can be successful even during the development of new people. Make sure you have clear, measurable systems in these five key areas:
- Marketing: How you generate interest, visits and leads.
- Sales: How you qualify, track, close and hand off.
- Operations: Producing the promised offerings.
- Finance: Tracking, forecasting, and managing cash flow and funding.
- Service: Delivering on the promise with consistency and quality.
Systematizing these five parts of your business may sound like common sense, but it may require re-engineering and simplification to allow for your greatest growth.
By the way: The most dangerous answer to whether or not you have made any of these business shifts is ... "kinda." If you want to make the larger leaps forward in your business you need to commit yourself to these big changes in your way of thinking.