The answer is easy.
So you wish to grow your bottom line Grasshopper? Easy. Make more money and spend less money. From there, it starts to get more complicated…
Do you spend first on additional staff, systems, etc. in order to prompt more sales? Here, the risk is by way of investment. Or, do you hedge your bets on demand and scramble to get that same staff and systems in place once the work comes in? Here you risk quality and reputation. The questions just keep coming and getting more complex with more nebulous answers.
For a quick answer, one is more apt to turn to Google than Buddha. That being said, the former will immediately dispense list after numerical list of “15 Easy”, “17 Quick”, “9 Cheap”, “36 Essential” ways to grow your business. Many of these imperative “ideas” involve buying something to spur you along quicker. Refer back to that whole spending money first part.
Enlightenment is always preceded by confusion.
Now if Google were the Buddha, instead of spitting out quick solutions, what would it do? Perhaps instead of search results, it would pose a question such as, “look inside yourself, for the path to enlightenment lies within…”
Feet back on the ground now. After dozens of books, coaching by accredited individuals and thousands spent on executive training and mentor-ship one question should proceed thoughts of growth. What makes you think that your company is good enough to grow in the first place? There is a better answer to the question of how to grow your company and by taking an introspective view, it could provide the clarity needed to answer how, but more importantly, if.
Size matters, but proportions rule.
Why does the size or growth trajectory of a company somehow correlate to success? Perhaps it’s more important to consider this first? I can tell from first-hand experience that growth for the sake of growth and by chasing after temporary spikes in demand is a fast way to get gray hair or no hair at all! You’ve heard people say, “I worked twice as hard and made half as much money!” That person was lucky. Be happy to escape with sanity.
Somewhere along the way, we realized that our company simply wasn’t prepared to grow. It wasn’t for lack of trying. We thought we had pretty good people, reasonably good systems and a decent book of clients. But as we tried to grow, it simply put too much stress on an environment that was not ready yet.
Don’t let your emotions make your decisions.
Have you ever been faced with a really tough decision that you kept finding excuses not to pull the trigger? Look back at the most basic growth model: gain revenue or cut expenses. One way or another, gaining revenue is expensive. On the contrary, cutting expenses by parting ways with staff is the fastest and most impactful. But cutting staff means losing people, personalities and cutting capacity. Tough. I bet you have had an employee that just barely justified their being. Likewise, there is always a client that is the crazy maker and not the money maker.
Do not delay, lest you later regret it.
So what to do? Once you start realizing what is costing the most, the decisions sort themselves out. By “cost”, I don’t just mean expensive. What is the price we are truly paying to keep people on staff? How about the price of certain clients as well? Sadly, very few employees walk in the door that are worth every penny (but it does happen). Looking at a book of clients, there is always some that aren’t worth the “cost” of doing business. Meditate Grasshopper… I can say with 100% certainty when looking back on having made a tough choice, it’s never as tough as it seemed and the only regret is not having moved on it sooner!
So consider this as part of your growth plan: don’t grow. In fact, consider simplifying. There is beauty in simplicity. Quality over quantity. All you need is less. Insert cliché quote about the elegance in simplicity here: ___________.
Have some tips of your own? Be sure to share them in the comments!