At some point in his or her career, every business owner hits the growth wall. In fact, according to a 2008 Harvard Business Review study, 87% of the surveyed companies experienced growth stall points.
Maybe you’re staring at the wall right now. If you’re failing to grow and aren’t sure why, it’s time to take a hard, honest look inward and identify the hurdles that are keeping your company in check. Understand the three areas you should consider first and foremost: people, processes and technology.
Don’t just look for revenue growth problems on your balance sheet. First, check:
The Break Room
Before you focus on internal systems and operations, make sure you have the right people driving your business. The world’s best planning and technology means nothing in the hands of a poorly constructed team. Are your employees correctly aligned and placed in positions that highlight their strengths, skills and passions? More important, are you focusing on critical character traits throughout the hiring and review process? Remember, skills are trainable, but discipline, dedication and commitment to excellence are irreplaceable.
As you create your new growth strategy, consider the team you’ve assembled. You may have hired purely for skill and, in the process, brought in people who lack the passion and motivation your business deserves.
The Board Room
Once you’ve ensured that you have the right team, it’s time to review your processes and discover any issues that are crippling efficiency. Find out how your people and technologies are interacting and figure out where difficulties arise. Your leadership team should understand where operations need improvement.
Change is scary, but complacency is deadly. If your bottom line isn’t growing, be prepared to make difficult executive decisions and take a new approach to the way you do business. Think about the ways your customers (and prospective customers) want to consume products or services, and how your business model may impact a person's choice to do business with you versus a competitor.
Also make sure that your process strategy is proactive, not reactive. You might be failing to grow because your processes don’t match your current needs. If a cursory review shows that your company’s approaches “aren’t working,” it’s tempting to bunker down and cut spending. But, if processes aren’t scaled properly, it may take bigger investments to achieve the growth you want.
The Server Room
Make sure your information technology is providing your business with the most value possible. Again, be proactive: System infrastructure and core application improvements take thought, resources, and time. Don’t wait until you face a new growth opportunity to learn that your systems aren’t able to facilitate it. Take steps now to avoid growth hurdles tomorrow.
Finally, don’t neglect system security. Today’s cybercriminals are more skilled and active than ever. If you don’t have an in-house cyber security expert, consider working with an outside partner who’s capable of setting up and maintaining safeguards, identifying security gaps and recommending effective, practical solutions.
Large companies like Sony and Apple, with massive resource pools, recover from attacks all the time. But, smaller companies often lack a contingency plan or the funds required to bounce back from a critical breach. Even worse – or perhaps as a result – recent studies indicate that smaller businesses are the new favorite hacking target.
Don’t treat IT security as a distant threat. Prepare for all outcomes now, even if it requires investing considerably more in IT support.
When business growth stalls, don’t spin your wheels. Focus on these three core hurdles and take decisive action to get your business moving forward. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Ready to align your IT with your business growth objectives? Connect with a PointManTM to find out where your systems and processes can provide more value.