How often do you think about growing your business? If you're the owner of a company, a senior executive or a sales professional, the answer to that is "a lot." However, if you're like the majority of workers in the world who are not part of that group, you're probably thinking "it's not my business and that's not my job."
In the past, many organizations had a few good men and women who took responsibility for business growth. The rest of the team just showed up and did what they were told to do.
Today, profitable growth has to be everyone's business. The long-term success of for profit or non-profit organizations can no longer rest in the hands of a small percentage of people, no matter how much talent those individuals possess.
Everyone, regardless of age or function, needs to show up for work and ask themselves two questions:
How can I use my strengths today to help my organization create profitable growth and add more value to the people we're serving or want to serve?
What do I need to stop doing that is no longer adding value to the people my organization is serving or wants to serve?
Most leaders and teams are aware a new technology or innovative solution from a competitor could disrupt their business. They know it's just a matter of time.
Despite the fact that the pace of disruption is accelerating, there is still not a sense of urgency to get all employees involved in creating new profitable growth.
The pervasive feeling is "we're doing OK now" even if the sales have been slightly lower year over year; or their organization is growing because a handful of senior people (who may be retiring soon) are great at business development; or their industry just happens to be having a good year.
Why go through the pain of growing when you don't have to? Because the pain of not growing fast enough is greater. Just ask anyone who has worked for a company that was once successful but then went bankrupt or had to be sold, an employee who's been laid off, or someone who's working longer hours doing multiple jobs because their company has a hiring freeze.
If everyone on your team is not consistently looking for new ways to create profitable growth, your company is going to fall behind in the race for the best clients and co-workers.
If you're a senior leader in your organization, I encourage you to engage and challenge each member of your team to answer the two questions I posed earlier in this article. Then spend time listening to each person's answers and hold them accountable for putting at least one new growth idea into action each month.
If you're not an owner or part of the senior executive team, be proactive and start asking and answering those questions before work every day. Get a journal and start writing down your answers. You will come up with good ideas. Pick one and put it into action.
Earlier this week, I was working with a business owner who has embraced the idea of having everyone in the company use their strengths to grow the business.
One of the individuals I coached is the CEO's administrative assistant. When we began our meeting, she told me she would love to see the company grow, she has been working there for 19 years but there is nothing she can do to develop new business. After reviewing her natural strengths and asking her some questions, she came up with several brilliant ideas on how she can have a positive impact on the growth of the company. All of her ideas are completely in her control, will not take away from her other responsibilities, and they will cost the organization little or no money.
As we ended the coaching session, she expressed her enthusiasm for putting her growth plan into action and she made the comment that no one ever asked her to think about what she could do to help the company grow.
How many people in your organization may say the same thing?
Making an effort to create new profitable growth while you're still successful is hard, but as one senior executive from Kodak told me years ago..."The main cause of our failure was having 20 years of extraordinary success. We believed we didn't have to change. We were wrong."
There will always be pains associated with growing, but they pale in comparison to the pain of not growing.
Don't wait till it's too late. Do something to grow your business today. There is no such thing as standing still in business or life.