Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Stone Faced | Extraordinary Business
How to make sure that you are doing the things it takes to grow your company
Growing your company – or any business, requires change. But that change has to enable the company to move toward a specific goal. Beyond creating a strategic plan, doing more marketing, advertising, hiring great people, here are seven things that you have to do:
“But this is what we have always done!” is a comment that probably resonates with a lot of people. Especially those who have created processes and systems and invested a lot of time and energy into certain activities. Some might call it the “comfortable spot” while others might harbor on “what if change is wrong?”
Here’s the thing: there may be some things that do get you, as a business leader, the results you are looking for every time. Every day, your results are hit out of the ballpark and you couldn’t be more thrilled. But that doesn’t mean a) you shouldn’t evaluate it to see if it could be done better. or b) there aren’t other ways to accomplish the same thing faster, better and at a lower cost!
Here’s what happens: while you are sitting back, proud of your accomplishments, your competitor comes across this technology that you have ignored, incorporated it into their business and is now taking away your customers. This means that your cost to do business suddenly increases because a) it costs you more to get and keep customers and b) lower revenue means that you may have to resort to doing things like lowering your prices, offering extreme discounts or increasing the cost of your offering – each of which makes it harder to cover your monthly fixed costs.
Yow. Insult and injury? Check.
Growth requires change. That is foundational. If you want to grow from a child to an adult, you will go through change. If you want to grow a plant, it will change. If you want to grow a business, it requires change! Being stuck doing the same thing day in and day out without much change, without much forethought, being reactive with your decision-making will not result in the type of company you want to have.
Here is what I am thinking – generalizations about your company and why you are in business:
- Your goal is to build a successful, sustainable (not on life support) company that allows you to have a certain lifestyle, to reach some level of power or notoriety or to simply provide some exchange of value to businesses, consumers or the communities so that you can feel good about it while keeping food on your table.
- You probably don’t want to be “self-employed,” meaning that your company and your customers run you. You would rather be running your company so that if you take days or weeks off for whatever reason, you can continue the business when you return, either because employees have been running it or because your customers will be there when you return..
- You probably don’t want to work until you fall over. While it that might be attractive to some, there are probably some negative outcomes there.
- You probably believe that the harder you work, the greater your returns will be. Better said, perhaps, if you don’t work, you won’t accomplish anything. You can work yourself crazy, but if you aren’t doing the right things, you won’t accomplish anything. Promise.
Here is the question: what kinds of things – strategically thinking – are you doing to ensure that you are running the type of company you truly want to run? Certainly, there are everyday things you are probably doing, thinking in terms of finding new customers: making or overseeing production, networking, developing content, advertising, developing new products or offers, etc.; but to what end? Where do all of these things lead? Is it more of the same: “fishin’ in the same hole” with the same or fewer results as more people enter the pond?” or are you thinking about how to move up the channel to fresher waters.
In growing your company, you will need to have a one track mind – be stone-faced, and embrace the idea that growing your company requires diligent, strategic change. You and your team need to understand where you are, why you do what you do and where you are going.
“I am in Georgia. I want to visit my family. I must travel to New Jersey.”
If that is my goal, the activities that I do must contribute to getting to that goal. Anything that I do outside of it will deter me from the goal. If I don’t plan my route, jump in a vehicle and head northward and eastward, I could end up anywhere from Ohio to anywhere along the Eastern seaboard. If I don’t make sure I have enough cash or reliable transportation (resources), I could end up stuck halfway.
“Who builds a tower without first determining the cost?” – King Solomon of Israel
On the other end of the spectrum, if I get stuck in planning and thinking mode, I will never move. So I have to have a happy medium and get moving. Quickly. Stone-faced.
So, how do you make sure that everything that you are doing is focused growing your company? Here are seven things that you will want to do.
- Make growing your company very intentional. Set aside time, regularly, daily or weekly, to focus on growing your company. The more time you can contribute without hurting your organization, the better.
- Embrace a culture of innovation..not just in yourself, but with your entire team. Find ways to motivate them to contribute, authentically, on every level.
- Make sure that your mission, vision and values are memorable, relatable, understandable, potent and practical. If nobody gets it, if no one remembers it, if no one can understand it, it is useless. Throw it out and start over.
- Make sure that you and everyone in your company not only knows, but embraces, your company’s belief statements: its mission, vision and values. To quote G.I. Joe – knowing is half the battle! (Doing is the other)
- Evaluate what you are doing/selling/offering/producing. Repeatedly. On a schedule if necessary. Get feedback from everywhere: your customers/clients, from employees and other stakeholders. Look at things, yourself. How can this be better? Does it provide value for customers? other stakeholders? Can it be improved? Can it be done less expensively without compromising on quality or value?
- Always be innovating. Not innovating for the sake of innovative, but rather, to achieve a specific goal. For example, if your mission is to provide a best in class experience for your guests, through all of the tactics listed above, you will constantly be learning how to make things better. If you don’t, someone else will.
- Stay on task. If you think about the stone monuments around the world, they face one direction and don’t change, which how you need to be with your growth goals. Activities that deviate from your goal will only slow your progress. Your failure to stay on task may mean that you never arrive at your destination. If something in the environment changes, make your adjustment and get back on course.
Growth doesn’t happen by accident. Only a very small percentage of businesses are “lucky.” Those that aren’t lucky will require stone-faced focus on where they want to go and an undying commitment to get there.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni Business Consulting an Operations & Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated helping business leaders CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. For nine years, we have helped our clients create and pursue extraordinary goals for their companies, by leveraging what they already do and strengthening their marketing & sales, product delivery, productivity and financial management.
We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking to take your business to the next level, we would love to meet with you to discuss your plans. Please join us for a Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you move your company from existing to extraordinary.