Growth is a function of opportunity, will, and health.
Google says opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
Motorola StarTAC makers don’t have the same opportunity as iPhone makers.
There must be a willingness to grow. The safety of the known can be a lure to complacency. Legendary Notre Dame football coach, Lou Holtz said, “In this world, you’re either growing, or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.” Yet, not all business owners want growth.
A business must be healthy for it to grow. Poor customer service, unmotivated employees, declining industry sales, excessive debt are few examples of an unhealthy business.
Growth reminds me of my kitten when I was 8 years old. Mom and Dad got him for my sister and I. He was 6 months old and still looked like he was 5 weeks old. We thought he suffered from feline dwarfism. I named him Bull.
There’s nothing cuter than the kitty that never grows up. Bull died a year later. When he died, we found out his growth was stumped by an undiagnosed parasite.
Thinking about the kitten that would never grow up, I was thinking about my own kids. Both are now teenagers. I think about the time we went to Disneyworld, and I let them take turns on my shoulders to see the parades and fireworks. I want them to grow up, to learn, and find their way, but I also wish I would have appreciated them more when I was still their hero.
Somedays, I wish I could hold them on my shoulders again. But again, they need to be growing, or they would be dying.
I do want them to grow up. I want them to have wonderful lives. I hope I have given them enough to slay their dragons and find their Prince and Princess Charming.
Lou Holtz is correct. Growth is the only choice unless you want to die. But like my adolescent children, I can’t teach you that. You have to choose growth for yourself. – WILL
Although you choose growth, you still need to put your house in order. You have blind spots in your business that your customers see. – HEALTH
The last variable is OPPORTUNITY. Don’t chase opportunities before reviewing the first two variables. An unhealthy person who exercises 3 times per week while smoking a pack of cigarettes a day will still be unhealthy. No amount of exercise will fix the smoking problem.
No amount of advertising dollars will fix a poor customer service problem. An unhealthy business cannot grow in the long run. In the words of Roy H. Williams, “Advertising speeds up the inevitable.”
If you want growth, you have the WILL.
Make sure to review your blind spots in your business. You can do that by talking to customers, employees, suppliers.
They will probably lie to you. Most people don’t want to be hassled by a survey or follow-up questions.
Something I learned in the restaurant business was that people don’t like to complain.
Although something might not be right, when asked how things were, they would answer, “Ok, good, alright, fine”.
Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great”, that Good is the enemy of Great.
9 times out of 10, people use these mushy, uncommitted, middle-of-the-road answers.
And we accept them as confirmation that we did a great job.
All guys know the word fine is the kiss of death. When you ask your wife how she’s doing, and she says, Fine, your next words must be chosen with the precision of a heart surgeon. She’s not fine. There’s something bothering her.
When a customer answered with FOAG (Fine, Ok, Alright, Good), our staff challenged them. “Really, it was just ok?”.
The customers with no problems corrected themselves with, “Oh, no, it was great.”
The clients with an underlying issue would either tell us what didn’t sit well, or they would reaffirm, with “Yeah, it was just ok.” These customers were my favorites because they gave us an opportunity to learn about our blind spots.
Growth can only come from three areas.
- New customers
- Existing customers buying more often and referring others
- Existing customers increasing transaction amount
New customers are the hardest to attract and the most fickle unless your advertising is targeted toward a loyal, relational customer.
Existing customers are easiest to keep if you show them you care.
You need three things to grow:
Here’s how you can do it:
- Make a choice not to be complacent
- Identify blind spots
- Advertise to loyal, relational customers
Growth must be part of your long-term vision if you’re willing, able, and ready for the opportunity.
Otherwise, you should get back to making your Motorola StarTAC flip phones.