Leading a small growth company is hard work. It requires commitment, focus, creativity and skill. By definition, growth requires that you take market share from your competitors. Directly, if you are in a mature or shrinking market; indirectly, if you are in a growing market. Why grow at all? Why not just look for stability, with some incremental profit improvement derived from productivity increases or cost decreases?
- Growth attracts growth. Customers and strategic partners are attracted to growing companies.
- In many industries, growth is required to compete. Companies that do not achieve critical mass, by whatever standard, are deemed weak by the market.
- Growth attracts talented newcomers to any organization.
- Growth creates opportunities for upward mobility for those newcomers.
- For many people, leading a company through growth provides superior challenges and more satisfaction than the alternatives – maintaining the status quo or presiding over a shrinking empire. Growth can be invigorating albeit stressful.
- Growth allows for development of a fully-formed management layer, then a fully-formed executive layer. Each of those milestones adds realizable value to the owner should you choose to exit.
- Profitable growth creates more wealth for the owners, employees and community.
- The alternative to growth is decline or grinding it out, year after year.
- Growth allows you the depth to get beyond single points of failure – be they people, products or customers.
- Growth gets you noticed – and creates opportunities for you to deliver your company message.
Trite but true – change is the only constant. In our rapidly evolving world, it is a mistake to stand still while everything around you is in motion. Unless you are running a “lifestyle business” – intended to sustain you with a consistent income, or to allow you to spend your time as and where you like – it is difficult to build a sustainable business with realizable value unless you grow. Sustainable, in that it may outlast your direct or everyday involvement; realizable, in that your wealth created in the business may be withdrawn as part of an exit strategy.
When we talk about high performance leaders and high performance organizations, one element is growth – and eventually that growth must include profits and positive cash flow.