It’s difficult to succeed in business and to sustain that success over a long period of time. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either studied business only from the ivory tower or is trying to sell you a book!
Reaching your business goals and elevating the lives of your employees, customers and stakeholders requires commitment, hard work, wisdom, and the willingness to learn continuously. At Valcort, we’ve worked with the leaders of countless companies, many of whom have seen great accomplishment, others who have fallen short of their goals. We’ve learned a number of principles by observing both successes and failures--and taking notes. Let’s start with 6 keys to business growth:
Establishing a motivational vision
A vision is not a vague statement of pie in the sky dreams. A vision is based on your shared values, and your vision statement expresses today's frustration among your family of stakeholders in experiencing those values.So to find your vision, start with understanding core values that truly drive your business forward. These are not the soft platitudes that may be placeholders on your website or posted on your lunch room bulletin board. They are the bedrock of what drives your leadership, the blueprint of your corporate life, and the characteristics of your people, relationships and business product.Extend your values into the future and you can begin to see your vision. Is it clear and motivating and beneficial for all stakeholders including employees, vendors and customers? Most importantly, don’t leave your vision on the wall. Operationalize your vision into functional teams and departments. Be sure that it is possible for your vision to cascade down through the organization and out the door to engage customers.Finally, measure it. Each year, ask:--“What key vision measurements are we tracking this year?
Align to the market
The market is constantly changing. You will not grow effectively and efficiently if you're not fully aligned to your market. If you haven't polled your customers in the last 12 months, you're out of touch, and it is quite likely your competitors are capturing business. Growth comes from customer demand, which you won’t know if you’re not uncovering their frustrations and unmet needs. Just seeing orders isn’t an indication of where the market is headed and where opportunity lies.Aligning to the market requires you to know the frustrations, attitudes and other unmet needs in the market, to determine the ability of your competitors to meet those needs, and to develop your organization, products and priorities.Can you identify the three biggest frustrations of your customers in the market?What one activity will you invest in to change customer engagement and grow this year?
Leverage your unique strengths
You may have heard stark statements about differentiation in the market. Here’s one more: If there is no difference in what you do, offer, or produce, you're out of business. And if you are different, but no one knows it—that’s just as deadly.The simple lesson: identify your unique strength, and then leverage them in every way possible. Do battle on the basis of these strengths, not on price. If you're battling on price, you're losing opportunity. Sustainable growth comes from greater value and differentiation.Your greatest asset is that which makes you unique. Do you know what makes you unique in the market? Do you know what your customers value? What activity will you undertake this year to create greater unique value more and fuel growth?
Inspire your people to innovate and change
When you’re facing change management, it can present many challenges. How can you manage change? Growth starts with inspiring your team to change. Change comes from a shared vision of what could be. Employees want to be a part of something big, audacious and meaningful. Is your vision meaningful? Is it big enough?Innovation comes from a clear understanding of the gap between your vision, your customers’ needs and your current state. Do you know the top frustrations of your customers today? If you and your employees don't know your customers frustrations, how can you innovate new solutions?
- How are your customers planning to change in the next 5 years and what will you do to help them?
- What three initiatives will your organization undertake this year to engage customers, develop innovative solutions and fuel growth?
Engage customers at every point of contact
Who is responsible for growth at your company? The CEO? Executive Team? Sales Force? Well, that’s just a start. Growing your business is every employee's job. Every incoming call, every shipping label, every customer query, every Internet click is an opportunity to deliver value and create engagement.To rely on solely on executive decision or sales efforts to generate growth is inefficient and ineffective. Relying on the executive team to grow the business will cost your more than you want to pay. Engagement starts with training your people to listen, understand, diagnose a problem and respond with a solution.Have you mapped out every point of customer contact across your organization? Do your people know how to engage customers effectively to create opportunity? What will you do this year to create better engagement across your whole organization?
Track activities, progress, celebrate success
Growth requires a change from here, to there. But for change to be guided you need to have some intelligence about both here and there.First, identify the “there.” This takes us full circle, back to #1: Vision. Growth requires a clear understanding of a future, desired state that is measurably different from today. If you don't have a measurable vision, you'll never know when you've arrived.Then, examine the “here.” To know whether or not you’re a making progress, you have to measure your effectiveness today. This will help you focus on what you'll do tomorrow.