After over 30 years of participating in hundreds of businesses, competing in at least as many different industries, with companies marketing both products and
services, you begin to develop and accumulate some fundamental businesses axioms or “rules of thumb” that seem to make more sense everyday and gain more value in business practice as your career continues to advance and evolve.
You like to think what you have learned and the business knowledge you have retained along your long and varied career path is unique, proprietary, or even “original”, but somewhere deep inside you know that most of the things you hold near and dear to your own business self identity probably were already developed, practiced, and taught way before you ever entered your first business conference room.
You sincerely hope that attempting to document your “Cardinal Rules for Business Growth” in an article of this nature will somehow make sense to other business people, or better yet, your written contributions get added to other’s own personal list of business do’s and don’ts.
Ultimately a business must sustain itself with profits to continue its legacy. Without consistent sales revenues and reasonable expense control it eventually makes little difference what else you may attempt do to continue to advance the future of the enterprise. Businesses need to grow because those that are risking their hard earned investment in the business logically expect a reasonable return on that capital.
The simple reality of business is, if there is not a reasonable return on money invested in a company, it makes more financial sense to put that same money in a fixed, guaranteed return paper investment. Never again would you have to worry that your competition is about to make your entire product line obsolete!
Before we get into my list of Cardinal Rules of Business Growth, it is most appropriate to acknowledge two fundamental business assumptions that relate to this list: 1) businesses are made up of people, working together for a common cause, existing by focusing on solving other people’s problems, namely “the customer” 2) No matter how “good” you think you are, how effective your team is and how much of the targeted markets you have cornered, there is, and always will be, another company attempting to do what you do “better”, cheaper, and more consistently than you ever thought. Your ultimate goal is to delay that from happening!
A “for profit” company must have a plan and a clearly defined strategy, made up of tactics to achieve desired results. This article will focus on tactical efforts one should consider, in one form or another, to maximize the probability of continued, profitable growth.
A very successful business mentor of mine once told me, “If it is important enough to throw money at, it is important enough to write down in black and white”… so if you have a business plan, a business strategy and a few tactics to pull it off, be sure to write them down! At least you have a fighting chance to improve upon the matter at hand if it is written. Thoughts, concepts and ideas are difficult to improve upon otherwise!
Proven Tactics for Business Growth:
Give priority to new product or service development:
Always seek ways to improve what you have to offer and develop means to obsolete your own products or services before someone else does
Find new applications for existing products or services:
Be sure to establish a communication means between your company and your product / service users to determine how they really use your products. Offering a financial incentive to “surface” news applications helps too!
The “easiest” sale of them all:
You have already spent the money to acquire your customers and build a relationships with them, why not ask what else can you make or provide for them?
Know where to get all the answers:
ALL the answers about how your company is doing, where it should go and what it should stop doing, reside within your own customer base. Just ask!
“Buy” rather than “Build”:
Take a good look at your targeted industry. There usually is a resourced limited company who offers viable products and services that relate to yours. Consider buying them versus investing the same money in an “organic” growth alternative.
Think “out of boundaries”!
If you just focus on US markets, someday you will find your company can no longer effectively compete because someone else beat you to the global market game board, the board the business game of tomorrow will be played on
Go “E Commerce”!
Establish an effective means, via the Internet, for your customers to educate and update themselves, solve their own problems and order your products with a few clicks of a computer mouse
Know when to say “No” and “Stop”!
The most effective business leaders know when to say “no” and when to say “stop”! Making or doing something that no longer makes financial sense needs to be dealt with decisively, no matter the, “We have always made those” , “We have always sold those” or “We have always done it that way” commentary.
Measure and publish everything:
Business practices can only be improved upon if they are written, measured, tracked and periodically audited for effectiveness. All results justify being shared with all employees, good or bad. Always celebrate success publicly, criticize poor performance privately.
There is always a price to pay for business growth. The process is always laden with mistakes, unexpected surprises, opportunities to learn new things, always offering “another chance” for future growth opportunities. There is no clear roadmap on how to best grow your company, each company has its own growth challenges.
Hopefully these “Cardinal Rules for Business Growth ” stimulated some creative thought to make your business growth tactics that much more effective. In today’s global business environment the competitive edge we strive for gets thinner every day, growth is the price we pay to maintain that edge.