A guy walks into his Dr.’s office and says, “Doctor I haven’t been feeling like myself lately”.
The doctor says, “How long is lately?” The guy replies, “I guess for the past year or so.”
Does this sound familiar to you or someone you know? This is a very common scenario for many people who take their health for granted and ignore the signs until the situation escalates.
Ironically, like a person ignoring the signs of illness, companies exhibit the same behavior when evaluating and responding to deterioration in growth. The signs become noticeable when growth begins to stall and becomes more pronounced when growth flattens out. And yet the company waits till growth is in a decline before it acts. In most cases, the company goes into panic mode and initiates a tactical action in hope it will fix the problem immediately.
If you think about a person’s health and the health of a company, they share many similarities:
In both cases, when faced with symptoms that signal a potential serious condition it really comes down to a simple decision: “Will you choose to take a proactive or a reactive path?”
The quick-to-execute tactical course of action without a sound strategy at the foundation, might work at least temporarily, but in most cases will fail resulting in wasted time, effort and money.
I recommend taking the proactive route which is similar to the Gold Standard “Doctor/Patient Treatment Model”. Before any decisions are made, first seek to understand what is behind the presenting symptoms through a complete diagnostic review. This will generate the vital information and insight critical to making an accurate diagnosis. Once the diagnosis has been identified, you will now be able to create an effective treatment plan for your specific Growth Condition.
So If you still choose to ignore the signs and wait until your Growth Condition becomes critical, before you go immediately to executing a reactive quick-fix solution, take a pause. And, consider “If your company was a family member, what is the best course of care that you would want your doctor to prescribe to not only relieve the symptoms, but fix the problem?
My suggestion…Think Strategy First
Speed of business is getting faster and faster and in this new era of “get more done in less time”, the demand for companies to be able to juggle a multitude of tasks simultaneously in order to grow their business has become a major hurdle to overcome.
The irony is that the advancement in technology in recent years should have, in theory, made the process of growing one’s business easier, more efficient and achievable. The reality is, most companies are faced with limitations in time, resources, staff and budgets and are challenged with achieving growth despite their best efforts.
According to The National Center for Middle Markets 4Q 2015 Middle Market Indicator, 100,000 middle market companies (revenue between $10 million to $1 billion) regardless of their efforts, investments or tactics will either remain flat or decline in growth.
Despite a plethora of reasons that experts attribute to why a business can struggle to achieve growth, one major obstacle to ponder is that ‘the old way of doing things no longer is working’. This might be stating the obvious, but in this new digital realm, the paradigm clearly shifted.
Critical business areas that once impacted growth through traditional tactics and processes of yesterday have morphed exponentially into new business Specialties. And these highly focused Specialty areas require a brand new approach, skillset, level of experience and expertise combined with a dedicated allocation of time and commitment to effectively plan, coordinate, execute, measure and quickly adjust that many companies are not equipped to handle.
So unless your company has the means to recruit and hire a new breed of specialty experts coupled with large sums of dollars to allocate towards new software and systems, there is a lot for you to consider in how your company approaches growth
With the ability for customers to access practically anything, from anywhere, anyway they want it, has forced businesses to maintain a more vigilant and robust watch on the competition, both legacy and new entries as well as new market trends.
Every area of a business has been touched or heavily impacted by the advancements in technology over the past two decades. A once small IT department whose sole focus was to keep the computers working, has evolved into the mission-critical backbone essential to a business’ success or failure.
Customers want to be heard and they desire brands and companies that listen and work hard to meet their individual needs that go beyond offering simply functional feature and benefits. To be relevant with todays’ customers, companies have to make an emotional connection that requires proactive engagement and interaction on the customer’s terms - which many times, translate to being accessible 24/7.
Innovative Products and Services: To meet the needs of highly scrutinizing, well informed and demanding customers, businesses must constantly be thinking about new and unique ideas, products, and services that they can offer their customers in exchange for their loyalty.
In lieu of outdated sales tactics like the almighty rolodex and the strength of your team’s individual contacts and networks, companies need to develop a robust lead generation approach. This will require the implementation and universal ADOPTION of a CRM system and an effective sales funnel in order to qualify and distribute relevant leads to a heavily mobile-dependent salesforce.
The ability to access, reach and communicate with the right customers on a consistent and measurable 1-to-1 basis has replaced the traditional 1-to-many approaches. And with this multi-channel marketing approach, a critical touchpoint that must be included in the mix is social media. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are no longer a new trend. They have become the standard in customer engagement.
But be warned, just like TV and Radio back in their prime, social media is inundated with clutter and noise and in order for brands to stand out and make an impact, establishing an authoritative reputation and presence with customers is paramount. This of course, is all contingent on the ability to create excellent and consistent content that will resonate with and influence the customer.
With so many sources for vital data that can impact a business’ ability to grow, just collected it is just the beginning. To get the most out of your data, the information must be aggregated, analyzed and translated into actionable insights in order to have the best impact on your ROI.
No matter what industry your business is in, the need to stay current and comply with an influx of governmental and industry statutes and regulations has heightened in recent years.
With so many new critical impact areas to account for, where should a business begin? I believe that the old adage “work smarter not harder” has never been more applicable to a company’s ability to achieve growth than in today’s fast-paced business environment.
So if your company is currently operating in a lets “Get-‘Er-Done” manner and is scrambling to put out fires on a daily basis, perhaps its time to put on the breaks and consider switching your business growth approach. I recommend an approach that replaces being in a state of constant reactivity to one which centers on developing and incorporating a comprehensive and overarching strategy to achieve sustainable growth.
According to Sun Tzu, “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” Translated into terms of today’s message - Before attempting to juggle a hatchet, flaming stick and rubber ball for the first time, its best to develop a strategy first.
Visit the Inventis Strategies website to learn how we can help your company build and sustain growth.
How many times have you been sitting in a business meeting when someone introduces a movie quote to engage the audience, reinforce a point or simplify a complex subject? Yea, I’m that guy.
I like to use movie quotes to convey the essence behind common business growth challenges. Case in point, the loss of focus by many companies is a very common problem that contributes to flat and declining growth.
In my humble opinion, a powerful movie line that effectively embodies this growth problem comes from Rocky III when Rocky’s Manger Mickey tells him before his fight against Clubber Lang that he can’t win because he has lost his edge.
"The worst thing that could happen to a fighter happened to you: you got civilized."
Easily distracted by his success and fame since winning the World Title in the second film, Rocky has lost his focus and along with it, the qualities and characteristics that made him a great boxer have become dormant. Despite successfully defending his tile in several matches, Rocky is no longer the same caliber of fighter anymore. He is what his major competitor calls a “Paper Champion”.
So, like Rocky – who “traded his passion for glory” and compromised his drive and dedication to be the best, has your company lost its focus?
Before you arrive at your answer, take a moment to consider this one very important question:
Can you say with conviction that your company’s mission and core values are at the center of every business decision?
If you answered no, then the following are some suggestions that will help your company get back its focus and ultimately, improve its ability to accelerate its growth:
Every company wants to be a champion, but as time passes, holding onto the “Title” will require a deep look inside to see if the focus has been lost. And if it has, the company must be willing to go back to its roots, reestablish its foundation, eliminate the distractions, and implement the core fundamentals and disciplines. Just like Rocky, it needs to refocus in order to reclaim its “Eye of the Tiger.”
In part IV. of my blog series specific to the importance for organizations to develop, improve, and practice daily business fundamentals in order to achieve organizational success and growth, the focus will be to offer suggested steps that fall within the area of Customer Strategy.
According to Roger Staubach, Former Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl Champion, NFL Hall of Famer and Modern day business titan.
“At a car dealership, the person who sells the car is the hero, and also gets the commission. But if the mechanics don’t service that car well, the customer won’t return”
Delivering an excellent customer experience requires the combined and coordinated efforts of every employee in an establishment working towards a single goal – to exceed their customers’ expectation, period. Sure, employees will have different roles and responsibilities, and as Mr. Staubach’s statement indicated, will also be recognized and compensated differently as well. But the key point to take away is that everyone within an organization, no matter what their job entails, must believe in and be focused on delivering their customers a truly unique and amazing experience.
Memorable Customer Experience is More Than Great Customer Service.
In many mature industries where products and services are perceived as a commodity and price historically dictates the purchase decision, there is an opportunity to identify and implement new value-creation efforts. Efforts that can immediately increase customer satisfaction that ultimately, helps to further differentiate a company and its products and or services from the pack.
Customers are seeking a personalized experience linked to the product or service they purchase that will go well beyond a transactional interaction. It’s given that customers expect a good price, a quality product, dependable customer service and support, timely delivery, ease-of-ordering, and convenience. But today’s customers are also looking for a consultative versus a transactional relationship with their vendors where they will be provided with reoccurring ideas, solutions, and guidance from experts who truly know and understand their specific business challenges.
Providing a more robust and meaningful emotional connection with your customers, will not only win their wallets but will also win their trust, loyalty and hearts.
As the late and great USA Olympic Ice Hockey Coach Herb Brooks said, “Great moments are born from great opportunities.” I, for one, believe every company has the opportunity to realize its desired success and growth – And it starts with Blocking-and-Tackling
In part III. of my blog series specific to the importance for organizations to develop, improve, and practice daily business fundamentals in order to achieve organizational success and growth, the focus will be to offer suggested steps that fall within the area of Market Analysis.
According to Bill Bradley, U.S. Senator, Basketball Hall of Famer, and Author
“Becoming number one is easier than remaining number one.”
For many companies in the B2B space that developed and commercialized a unique software product or some other type of innovative technology, success came fast by being first to market. However, over the years as more and more competitors began to enter the market offering alternatives propositions to a once very novel and special technological solution, thus causing companies in this new situation to rethink the importance of research and intelligence.
Research Should Be Part of Every Planning Initiative
Research can come in various forms and, for many, may produce a daunting impression. However, when it comes to growing a business, every company should thoroughly understand the market(s) it competes in, maintain an ongoing view of the competitive landscape and know who its customers are and what they want.
Collectively, ongoing research that yields sound and insightful customer, market and competitive insights will be paramount to putting together an effective growth plan that will mitigate risk while ensuring sustainable organizational growth and long-term success.
Understand Your Customers’ Needs and Wants
Today’s customers are mobile, well informed, have access to extensive data and information, demand choices and are clearly in the driver’s seat.
Companies spend lots of money, time and effort implementing solutions they perceive will satisfy their customers’ primary needs. Many times, the focus is placed on addressing transactional drivers like quicker speed-to-serve and convenience, both of which are very important, but in many cases are only scratching the service as to what customers truly desire from the products and services they purchase.
To better influence the purchase decision, a company should, in addition to understanding a customer’s “needs”, place more emphasis on identifying and understanding a customer’s “wants” as well.
Study your Competition – Know Their Moves and Anticipate.
In preparation for every game, Peyton Manning studied his competition obsessing over every detail revealed by spending countless hours screening game film over-and-over. The truly great sports stars know every move their opponent will throw at them and will be able to accurately read changing game situations and effectively make adjustments in order to execute successfully.
Your company can do the same by performing ongoing competitive analysis. Note, conducting this just one time a year will not produce the type of outcome most companies desire. The nature of the business and the dynamics of the competitive set certainly will have an impact on the level of commitment a company can afford and elects to implement, but experts in this discipline are avid believers that competitive analysis and market mapping initiatives must be of the nature where your company will secure a constant view of the market and competitive activities.
Companies that conduct market, product, customer and company-alignment research will be armed with the insights necessary to develop and execute actionable strategies and tactics that are critical to accelerating company growth and increase its value.
Look for my next post in this four-part series that include steps that can be taken to increase company growth and success that fall within Customer Strategy.
In part II. of my blog series that addresses the importance for organizations to develop, improve, and practice daily business fundamentals in order to achieve organizational success and growth, the focus will be to offer suggested steps that fall within the area of Corporate Strategy.
According to Tony Dungy, who became the first African American NFL head coach to win the Super Bowl when the Baltimore Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
“It's not necessarily who has the most talent but what team sticks together and executes their fundamentals the best.”
The critical concept here is “Sticks together.” Despite many championship teams that had one or a few pivotal super star player(s) that were extremely instrumental in the team winning the title, the fact still remains that the team, as a complete entity, was successful because of a strong bond and chemistry, a shared vision and drive, and the collective blood, sweat and tears of every member of that organization, not just a few, working towards a common goal.
Establish a Common Purpose
As a company matures and expands over time, it is easy to stray off course losing sight of its unique story and delivering on its value proposition. A common purpose endorsed and driven from the leadership team down throughout an organization will unite a company, inspire and align its people and give clear definition and direction as to what the company holistically is working towards; ultimately making employees become believers.
Focus on What Your Company Does Well and Do It Better!
A common mistake many organizations fall victim to is losing focus and departing from a continuous effort to make their products and services better. A status quo position may be sustainable for a period of time - albeit brief, but getting too comfortable can have dire consequences.
As with an athlete’s quest to be the best through ongoing physical conditioning, daily practice and mental preparation, a company equally needs to be disciplined, focused and driven to ensure its products and services do not lose their competitive edge.
Build a Great Company Culture
A company, like the dynamics between a team’s players, coaches, trainers, medical and support staff, can only be successful contingent on the whole organization coming together and working towards common goals that go way beyond just making money.
Today’s workforce is made up of multi-generational segments (Millennials, Generation X, Baby-boomers, and Traditionalists) that are fundamentally different in how each group sees the world and how each of its members wants to live and work in it. Now more than ever before, a balanced work-personal life is being embraced as the norm and companies are struggling to identify, attract, engage and retain the best people. It is no longer exclusively about who can pay the most in order to keep employees happy.
People are looking for and desire to work for organizations that place a heavy emphasis and focus on creating a unique culture where everyone can contribute to the success of the organization. A place where employees are recognized and respected as individuals, given a voice and are encouraged to share: who they are, their interests and what drives them, their dreams and passions and are expected to offer feedback, suggestions, and ideas. After all, great ideas and innovation do not just live in the C-Suite anymore or have to come from someone with 25+ years of industry experience.
The bottom line, employees make the difference and are truly the most important asset of any organization. If given the opportunity and allowed to develop and blossom, every employee has the potential to be instrumental in helping his or her company achieve its growth objectives.
Look for my next post in this four-part series that will include steps that can be taken to increase company growth and success that fall within Market Analysis.