Generating growth in the business world can be a tricky thing. Companies do whatever they can to grow, but many find themselves unprepared when success happens. On the other hand, some businesses take mighty steps in advance of growth: hiring staff members, moving to a bigger location, and buying new equipment, only for increased sales failing to materialize. Business leaders often struggle with which road they should take: forward, back, stay put? Sometimes this indecision can be a good risk mitigation strategy, and at other times, it leads to opportunities being missed.
Growth, however, does not always have to involve adding significantly to a company’s expenses. This might sound surprising, but by applying some careful thought and creativity, it is possible. The potential is compelling, as in situations where revenues increase and expenses decrease, profits can multiply in ways that you might not have thought possible. There are ways to generate growth by getting the most out of what a company already has and is likely still paying for; and however you look at it, it’s a great time to grow:
- Utilize your existing workforce to the fullest—hiring staff members is a long term commitment, so ensure that you are not using it to resolve a short term problem. Each and every staff member should be fully utilized with a meaningful workload, so identify inefficiencies and work smarter. Using cross-training and reassignment of tasks across departments and hiring part time/contract staff during peak periods can all help. Standardized procedures, templates, and documents can be used repeatedly and eliminate the wasted time associated with “reinventing the wheel”. Ensuring that staff members have the right technology to increase productivity is a must, recognizing that more is not always better.
- Take a fresh look at your premises— consider reorganizing work schedules, adding shifts, or servicing customer markets that could be accessed during off hours. Ensuring that your online and social media presences are as robust as possible also represent opportunities to spur growth.
- Take things in stride—turbo speed growth isn’t always the best approach, as it can be difficult (and risky) to service and maintain. Long term success is often better achieved by taking a gradual approach, raising the likelihood of profitable growth that is also cash flow positive. View this as creating the basis for the next level of expansion.
- Look to fill product and service gaps—identifying partners who have products and services that fit well with your own, or would be of interest in your marketplace, can be a great way to grow. Each partner works within their own resources, but benefits from offering products and services to each others’ customers. It’s also no secret that groups who work together can generate additional productivity, simply by collaborating and working smart.
- Take a short term focus—view growth as a series of small steps or advancements. Stay away from long term facility commitments and equipment loans, as they are expenditures that remain well into the future. Generate growth that has a likelihood of being sustainable over at least a moderate period of time, such as a couple of years, before committing into the long term. This approach can be repeated over the years, resulting in managed growth that mitigates risk.
Much of what is required to achieve success in this regard is not glamorous, but rather, represents good, fundamental business practices. Take stock of what you have, make it run like a charm, utilize it to the fullest, and monitor, measure, and refine. Do it well and be prepared to welcome the kind of growth that will be with you for years to come.