Growing or Dying?

4 Season

Recently, a business partnership dissolved. Two partners
decided to pursue  other opportunities leaving the owner
to deal with his remaining employees alone. As we
discussed the incident, he asked what I did for a living.
When I told him that I work with companies on their
growth strategies, he exclaimed, “I don’t want to grow my
company!” Obviously, the wounds from the break up were still in the healing

However, I explained to him that a company is either growing or dying. A
company must either grow in products/services, profits or people. While it’s
true that people can complicate a business more than anything can, stagnation
does more harm than good. He realized that he must do something to get his
company back on track and ready for the next phase. This business owner needs
to step back and take a long, serious look at his company. Every CEO should
review several areas before stepping into the next stage of growth. Here are some
areas for review.

The challenges an organization must grapple with are different at every stage. For
example, a company with between 20 – 34 employees struggles with staff buy-in,
communication gaps, ensuring there is a good business/profit design in place,
unclear values, and resistance to change. However, a company with 161 – 500
employees faces determining a good market position, inadequate profits, new
product development, a business/profit design, and market change. Focus is
critical during growth.

The CEO must know exactly where to direct his/her attention during what stage
of growth.  A company with 35 – 57 employees must have the CEO’s focus on
project process, profit and people, in that order. A CEO with 1 – 10 employees
should be focusing on profit, people and process, in that order. While profit is
always in the top three areas of focus, it may be surprising to see that it is not
always the number one area of focus.

The bottom line (pun intended) is that a CEO must know where to focus his or her
attention during growth for maximum ROI. Concentrating focus in the correct area
at the right time, takes much of the guesswork out of managing growth allowing
leaders to stay focused on critical issues instead of trying to figure it out as they
go. Some of the major areas of focus for a CEO include:

1. Measure your organization’s ability to perceive and overcome challenges
2. Communicate the company’s willingness to perceive and take advantage of
opportunities in its path.
3. Measure the strength of the company’s immune defense system, acting as a
barrier against low morale and poor performance.
4. Assess your organization’s willingness to advance itself through change.
5. Telegraph the company’s belief in the future.
6. Communicate the company’s trust in its leaders.

Being able to identify issues by name is one way a business leader can efficiently
and effectively improve a company’s growth and performance. More importantly,
a CEO must have the ability to be proactive in understanding how to stay ahead of
the growth curve.


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