Get it Right: Getting More Vs. Getting Better

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Over the years I have worked with small business owners, I have seen many, many companies go through growth phases and as they do, begin to lose the great things about them that made them great to work with.

One of the things I loved about one of the software companies we work with is that they always had very personalized support service. The product was good – perhaps it didn’t have all of the bells and whistles that some had, but there was no lack in what we needed from them.

Over time, the company got larger.  Suddenly, when we requested support, we could no longer pick up the phone and make an inquiry. We had to dig for their customer service phone number and get a ticket code.  If we emailed, response went from an hour or two (on a bad day) to a day or two between communications.  The support professionals were not knowledgeable and would simply dig through the support articles and send me one of them rather than taking the time to understand my question.  Perhaps we would get to a resolution. But sometimes, we had to figure out our own solution internally.

Frankly, I don’t have time for that.

One of the things that I do in my spare time is lift weights.  I am not the type of person who works out simply to keep in shape, but rather, one that works hard to reach the next level of performance, which looks like increasing volume – whether in repetitions or the amount of weight I can lift.  I’ll never be a competitive bodybuilder or power lifter, but I enjoy the sport no less.

When I was a younger man, my goal was to get into the gym each day, work as hard as I could, lift as much as I could, and go home quite sore and satisfied. I probably didn’t pay as much attention to form as I could have – I figured I had the basics down and got decent results, so I didn’t think much of it.

One of the challenges to this approach as I a) get older and b) lift more, is that I am more prone to injuries. Injuries result in “backward progress” as I have to work through whatever the injury is.  As a result, I have learned to take the time to study the movements more. So in essence, I have to learn to “get better” at the different lifts in order to get better at them.

As business leaders, many of us face the same challenge.  As we are trying to grow our companies, our goal is often to handle more – a greater volume of customers – but perhaps without the foresight of putting the effort into getting better at what we do and building on what got us here in the first place.  I would be remiss to say that we got it right every time in our company. However, the upside to failure is learning.

Given the opportunity to pass it forward, I would suggest to companies that when they are thinking about scaling their companies, to think about the things that they did in the past to get them to where they are today.  In our strategic planning process, we call these the “Rocks.”  They are foundational to the company and should not be moved.  While these will include company beliefs – mission, vision, values, they should also include those attributes about your company that have given you strategic advantage.  We also discuss other items of lower importance that a company might want to maintain, but could adapt which we call “pebbles,” and of course, the “sand” that will flow throughout represents innovation and growth opportunities.

So, if you have great customer service as a smaller firm, you’ll want to figure out how to scale that as a larger firm.  If your product or product delivery has certain aspects that set you apart, growth should not cause you to cut corners.  If your environment is half of the experience that your clients value, it may not be in your best interest to lower the standard.

Don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t mean that these things don’t change or evolve…you want to get better at it.  You WANT to build an extraordinary company. You just don’t want to lose the essential components that gave your company an advantage and caused your customers to be advocates of your brand.

If you’d like to talk about how your company can get it right, or how we help business leaders build extraordinary companies, I’d love to speak with you.  Schedule a complementary Coffee & a Consult at https://coffeeandconsult.com.  Or call our office at 678-265-3905. Or meet me at the gym. 😉

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