What Happens When Growth Slows and No One’s to Blame?
Businesses are in many ways similar to seasons. As seasons come and go, so do different phases in a business change in a phasic manner. These phases sometimes follow a regular bell curve or may follow an undulating curve but they almost always go through a down phase where nothing anyone does seems to stimulate growth.
You are tanking and there’s no one with the right answer. This happens especially to mid-sized companies that have exited the small company phase and hit the gas pedal to go through the scaling phase. You are therefore just at the threshold of becoming a large company but things just won’t budge. In this situation, many company owners and executives will resort to finger pointing, witch hunts and all manner of reactionary actions to stymie the downward trend or jumpstart growth. If this is your company, here are a few things that could be weighing your company down.
Technology and automation are at the heart of effective and growing companies. Have you automated as much as possible? How much more can you automate without becoming redundant? What technologies can you employ to increase production, cut down expenses and drive sales? Frequently, business owners will stick to a tried-and-tested way of doing things. This is great when you are starting off but not so when you need to stimulate growth. You need to hire a consultant to look at your business processes and help you figure out what parts need to be oiled and which need to be replaced altogether.
A company that does not innovate is a company dying a slow death. Time and markets have something in common, they wait for no man or business. If you are marking time thinking your sales will always be rosy, you are in for a rude shock. Whether products or processes or technology, you need to be constantly asking questions rather than thinking you have answers. It does not matter whether you’ve been in business for 5 years or 100 years, the moment you sit back and say you have arrived, that’s the beginning of the end.
People run companies, sometimes they run companies into the ground. That’s a trap many companies fall into because they figure they need the people who started the company twenty years ago at the helm to bring their “wealth of wisdom”. Unfortunately, this wealth of wisdom is often heavily seeded with stereotypes, biased assumptions and dated ways of thinking. If you keep trying to solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s solutions, you probably won’t go far. Be bold enough to recognize when it’s the people factor that’s dragging you down, even if that means putting yourself in those crosshairs and then do something about it. This does not mean anyone’s to blame, it just means times have changed and fresh blood needs to be injected into the company.
Selling your company, launching out into new markets, developing new products are other ways to stimulate growth but these won’t work for long. You need a corporate culture that keeps your company growing, even if everything else out there changes.