Gridlock: Are you Kerbing your Business Growth?
Businesses will often face several challenges on their path to growth. From taking the wrong direction with a product or service, to sending out mixed marketing messages, adopting confusing strategies that don’t play to the right objectives or company strengths, to dealing with cash flow issues and managing complex teams; the list is endless and the scenarios vast. Yet interestingly, the biggest obstruction to business growth today is people. People can create barriers, people can stifle growth but on the flipside, people also hold the key to unlocking business potential.
For a business to succeed in its quest for growth, it must first remove the barriers that prevent it from developing a clear intent or purpose. Lack of intent is a big problem in business today and it’s very often a stumbling block to growth. So many leaders are quick to aim for the stars without first understanding their mission and secondly, ensuring everyone else is on board with them. What is the intention of your business? What are you trying to achieve and why? Is everyone else around you aware of that intent? Although fairly simplistic, they are some of the most important questions to ask.
The story of the cleaner mopping the floor at NASA is a great example of a well-executed strategy of intent: when asked by JFK what his job was, he responded with ‘I’m helping to put a man on the moon’. That was the intent, in a nutshell, no further clarity needed. Quite simply, the worker demonstrated instantly that he understood the company’s goal and he was also clear on his own role in that mission.
Growth must be inclusive and purposeful
The reality is, there are a lot of very talented leaders out there with a great story to tell, but it can be lonely at the top and the bigger vision is seldom achieved in isolation. Freeing up the potential for growth means ensuring that every single person has taken a seat and is coming along for the entire journey. Leaders are often very passionate about their vision and future goals (and rightly so) but if no one else shares that passion or believes in what they can personally achieve, you are soon fighting a losing battle. Again this comes back to clarity of intent amongst your people – understanding the point of what you are all doing and supporting each other as a team along the way so that growth is motivating and inclusive from a people perspective but also purposeful.
We all know there is no such thing as a successful company; people alone make a business truly successful but they also cause businesses to fail too. They are the heart of the vision and culture and they are also the path to growth; or not. Nurturing people with the right ability, the will to succeed and who share the intent of the business, will facilitate growth. It does however mean you have to put your money where your mouth is and invest regularly in the best systems, technology and working environment to keep the dream alive and the business flourishing.
Flying the ‘company vision’ flag
People talk about the importance of continually investing in teams and in the past experts have suggested that at least 2% of your annual business turnover should be invested back into the business to support growth. The reality is, nowhere near enough businesses are following that sentiment even though pressure on leadership is at an all time high. Without the right investment in people and the systems that sit behind them, hitting the growth curve is made that much harder.
Of course, there are other factors that impact or limit growth too, but most of them link back to people somewhere along the line. Clear, robust goal setting is imperative when developing your business intent and most of us have great intentions at the outset. Later down the line, once immersed back into the daily operational grind, it is sometimes easier than we imagine to go off on a tangent and before long, you find yourself far away from the goal you once set. Goals have to be the lifeblood of your growth strategy so as a leader you have to live and breathe them and ensure you are consistently ‘flying the company vision flag’ across the business. This only works if that mind set is present in every team meeting, every supplier or customer conversation, every decision made and every hurdle you come to.
Embracing change without fear
As mentioned previously, good people really do matter in business and if growth has been a struggle it might mean you have to change course and the only way you can do that confidently is to investigate all of the possible obstacles. People can become a barrier to growth and sometimes that means you have to make changes for the good of the business and its future. Reviewing every team member even though it may feel awkward or out of your comfort zone will help you to assess whether or not they have the skills, aptitude, bandwidth and capability to take the company where it needs to go. Are they a potential barrier to that goal? This is all about finding those weaknesses that can potentially change the dynamic and potential for growth.
Change makes people feel insecure and some people will be resistant to it so you need a core team at your side that are advocators of those changes. Once change happens it is important to reinforce the business intent and be prepared to answer and embrace tough questions if needed. Inviting questions from your team can be very powerful too because it can help you to develop a culture that is built on pride and respect – a workplace ethic that is instrumental in supporting growth.
Making change happen is about leading with character and not emotion. People may be confused about changes at first but sharing the vision and the reasoning behind why such decisions were made, with sincerity, will help. Most people will understand that if a business needs fixing to secure its future growth, changes are simply a natural part of that process.
About Kevin Watson
As managing director at Amadeus, Kevin has led an ambitious growth strategy since taking on the directorship in 2012. Since then, he has succeeded in doubling the turnover and tripling profits for the award-winning venue and event caterer.