Looking at the different types of growth and how they impact the success of your company
My nine-year old son is very tall for his age. As a matter of fact, he is now taller than most of the kids in his elementary school, despite only being in third grade. When playing with their peers, people see him as a the leader, which is fine.
However, when playing with older children that would be his size, his lack of maturity is easily apparent, which, at times, has made him uncomfortable. Because of his size, people expect more of him, but he simply hasn’t developed mentally to match his size, yet.
Often when we talk about businesses and business growth, we look one dimensionally – how much revenue the company is bringing in and/or how many employees we have and/or how many locations we serve. However, like a child, business growth cannot be looked at simply in terms of sales; there are developmental components that have to be taken into consideration. Consider this; a younger company’s focus is typically going to be on getting products to the market; selling, selling, selling in order to stay in business and fund company growth. A more mature company is probably going to be focused on developing competitive advantage through business model design, innovations, process engineering and leveraging resources.
A young company is building its reputation and has to put a lot of emphasis on proving itself, building visibility and credibility; a more mature company often will be known for what it does and will be sought out for its capabilities. The mature company is expected to be able to deliver what it says it can and consumers are often willing to take certain things about the company at face value, whereas the young company will go to great lengths to prove that it is worthy of trust.
Here’s the thing; a younger company doesn’t simply wake up one day and become the mature company; this type of evolution is intentional and is part of the ongoing evaluation and planning exercises for the company. The change is not overnight, either; it is one that requires dedication and willingness to go through the ebbs and flows of the business.
If you think about a child that grows up with few if any responsibilities, whose parents are often working, tired when they get home and out “running errands,” or doing something with every moment of free time, the environment is one wherein the child will probably be less mature than one where the child is given responsibilities and has parents around them to hold them accountable and nature their growth. In either case, the child will reach adulthood, but it is likely that one will demonstrate maturity much earlier than the other.
In the same way, you want to – you must – nurture your company’s growth. You have to build it in such a way that it can operate with or without you, so you have to develop your systems, process, training and staff to be able to manage it and pass the information down. If you do this, as your company matures, you will find that it is in a much better position to grow in financially, in reach and in the number of companies.
If you are working on building a company that is extraordinary, understanding where your company is in the growth/maturity cycle will help you make wise decisions about how to build the company to take it to the next growth plateau. Being extraordinary isn’t simply about financial success, but rather, about the ability to maintain that success over time.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
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