I have been an adviser and executive coach to business owners for years, as well a being a serial entrepreneur myself. A common question is, “Why does my company need to grow (or grow faster)? I make enough money, I am comfortable at this scale, what gets better with growth to compensate for the extra work and stress?”
I have answered this question several ways for myself and clients but I never got the essence of it so clearly as when I invited Dan Wertenberg to speak to my executive coaching group for CEOs.
This summary may not represent Dan’s views perfectly but I credit him with the salient aspects.
1.) You may not need for your company to grow but your best staff does. They want to grow and they will do it with you or somewhere else. Look at it this way: do you really want an organization filled by people who are done growing?
2.) Things sometimes go wrong: be prepared. If your organization is not structured and staffed to drive sales where are you going to turn when you lose a major account? Or the economy tanks? Or a facility blows-up? Or a supplier fails? You do not want to be creating a sales culture from scratch while cash flow is falling, you need it in place before the emergency. As the wise man said, “It is too late to practice running is when the tiger is chasing you.”
3.) Things sometimes go wrong: have momentum on your side. Which company does better when sales suddenly drop, the one not growing, the slow grower (3%/annum), or the healthy growth organization (15%)? Look at this chart:
When our three hypothetical companies hit sales declines of the same dollar amount, the healthy growth organization takes the hit and keeps growing, the slow grower is nearly stopped, and the “I’m happy at this size” is pounded into oblivion. If you want to check the numbers yourself, you can download my Excel model by clicking here.
Companies have just two speeds: growing and shrinking. Which do you want?