Change is continuous, but growth is always optional as you can choose to ignore what is happening around you. Unfortunately, many people do tend to resist or ignore change. In business, this can be fatal as suddenly you discover that your customers’ world has moved on and the gap to catch up is simply too great. Seeding your business with the right people at the right time is the key to outpacing change.
Active Knowledge Question:
What’s your approach to bringing about growth in your business?
Growth Is Optional?
There are seasons and life stages for every business. Leaders must recognise their business’s season and life stage to craft the right strategy that includes tasking the right people to seed and lead change and growth.
There are seasons to grow and seasons to rest. There are seasons to expand rapidly, and there are seasons to consolidate. There are seasons to innovate and seasons to refine. There are seasons to seek out new relationships and seasons to invest in established relationships.
In crafting your strategy, you must have regard to the season that your business is in. Of course, the seasons can be impacted by the conditions of the market in which you compete, but this is only one influencing factor and does not determine the season.
When thinking of seasons, think of your business as if it were a person. Consider:
- What is its emotional, physical and mental health?
- How hard has it been working?
- Have the conditions been particularly tough, or very quiet and everyone is bored?
- Do you need to pull back and invest in internal processes?
- Or is it time to step out and take on some risks and new challenges?
Yes, I know your business is not a person, but it consists of people who come together as a team and a community. In considering growth, you must reflect on where that community is ‘health wise’ and what would be the best course of action to pursue. Ignore the season, and you will not achieve optimum performance from your business.
There is a language that exists in the strategy field of mature markets. The narrative goes along the lines that markets will mature, and at that stage, sales and performance will cap out, and growth will soften and progressively decline. Accordingly, you should recognise when a market in which you compete is moving to maturity and diversify into other new growth markets. This approach is flawed.
This approach to mature markets is the language of economists and not strategists. Much of modern-day strategic management theory has been developed by academics whose background is economics. From a strategist viewpoint, there is no such thing as a mature market, but there are markets populated by companies that do not innovate nor seek to deliver an ever-improving value.
Research has shown that 80 per cent of a company’s performance is attributable to its own capabilities and not the conditions of the market in which it is competing. So, a great business can do well in a mature market and, in essence, reinvent that market. But a poor business may not do well even in a thriving and growing market.
The other aspect to be considered when crafting a strategy for your business, and certainly in identifying the challenges the business may face in delivering on a strategy, is its stage of life.
Businesses, as they grow, must overcome various hurdles and learn new skills. In crafting a strategy, regard must be had to stages to be stepped through. These stages can be described in many different ways, but using the analogy of your business being a person from conception to death will give you a good handle on this point:
And the journey from inception to opportunity is reoccurring and continuous. Once a business unit, a product line, a geographical market, a customer demographic etc., reaches a point that you see as mature, you must step forward and reinvigorate it. If you don’t, it will commence to decline.
The table below provides an example of the journey through which a market within your business may progress. Note the challenge and the strategic focus necessary at each stage to ensure that market/business continues to grow.
And as you look at these challenges, you will see that the skill set required at each stage is different. But a better way to view it is to ask, ‘Who is the right person to enable the business to grow into and through that stage?‘
People Are The Answer
Change and growth are two sides of the same coin. Change seeds growth, and growth leads change. But neither change nor growth will occur by themselves, nor will they be initiated by system or process changes. Both require leadership, not directives.
Growth is best seeded by an approach of ‘the right person at the right time’. Think back to our earlier discussion above on seasons, mature markets and life stages. Through that entire narrative, the question in your mind should be, ‘If this was my business, how would I lead it through that growth cycle?’ And as your mind works that challenge, you will find yourself thinking of who, not what. The right person is always the go-to solution for growth.
And that right person needs to be a worthy leader, which is my language for a person who can enable others to bring their best to the forefront. These are people who:
- Know how to encourage others.
- Will be trusted.
- Are not led by self-interest.
- Can seed the right purpose and motive.
These skills are determined by a person’s character, not training or seniority, but we rarely speak of a person’s character when thinking of leadership.
The competitive strength of any business lies in the combined talent and effort of every single person working within and with a business. The right person must be able to muster and direct that potential. And understanding the working of the competitive engine in the business will allow them to bring the full potential of a business to the forefront no matter what season or challenge it may be journeying through.
Focusing on the selection of people and placing the right people in the right places at the right time, and moving those who are not right, should always be your answer to growth and change. And the elements of the competitive engine in your business will allow you to mould a business that produces those right people.
An entirely new level of performance.
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All the best in the success of your business,