A young president of a fast-growing tech company recently told me something very wise about growth. He said, “If a company is actually planning to grow and not too busy ‘running the business’, then its leadership will build growth related skills separate from their core business. Also, they will specifically target growth, build an infrastructure to support it, and develop a skill for managing it. Growth will become their other core business.”
Conventional wisdom tells us that growing a company is mostly about generating revenue and making a profit. While that is certainly true, it doesn’t quite capture the essence of the challenge. The challenge is to shift focus from the business to the customer and enable the business to increase the number of customer relationships, keep those relationships longer and enhance the value of each. Ultimately, this shift of focus is what fuels revenue, profit, and growth.
Of course, growth is easy if there are not real competitors attempting to take your customers away. Also, it’s easy to grow in an expanding marketplace where demand greatly exceeds supply. But, most of us do not live in a world where these easy dynamics exist.
So, companies that plan to achieve and sustain success make growth a specific objective by consciously employing, “The Seven Secrets of Persistent Growth”:
1. Develop A Strategy (yes, write it down) and Execute the Plan
“What business strategy is all about; what distinguishes it from all other kinds of business planning – is, in a word, competitive advantage. Without competitors, there would be no need for strategy, for the sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable the company to gain, as effectively as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors,” Keniche Ohmae, business executive, consultant, and author.
2. Build and Maintain Valued Alliances
“Alliances are generally more powerful (than going it alone) even with a small ally,” Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini, 17th century military strategist. For alliances target business leads groups, chambers, industry groups, or strategic partnerships.
3. Consciously Acquire, Retain and Grow More Profitable Customer Relationships
“To sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the consumer. It must build trust and rapport. It must understand the customer’s needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits,” Jay Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing. Start extending relationships with existing customers since they already have a rapport with you and your business.
4. Create Genuine Appeal for Your Product or Service
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself,” Peter Drucker, professor and the father of modern management. Identify what makes your product or service truly unique, and promote it. If there is nothing unique then redesign your product or service until there is.
5. Make Your Offer Accessible to All Who Want It
“Today access has less to do with location than with giving consumers the ability to interact with a company where or when they want, and with minimum interference or hassle,” Fred Crawford, author of The Myth of Excellence. Your options for communication with consumers continues to grow. Use the channels to give consumers the opportunity to engage with your company when and where they want.
6. Deliver Real Value
“Price is what you pay, value is what you get,” Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Deliver benefits others don’t, or just deliver them better.
7. Align the Outside Perception of Your Company with its Inside Reality
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected,” Steve Jobs. Project excellence externally and build excellence internally.
The Seven Secrets to Persistent Growth are not new. If you look closely, you can find them in the successful businesses and companies all around you. Simply knowing the secrets won’t help. You will need to translate them into action.
However, most leaders won’t bother to translate the secrets into action because they will be too busy “running the business” to redirect their focus and build the infrastructure for growth.
What will you do?