Is It Time to GROW Your Business?

I work with seasoned business owners who want to GROW, and who are GROWING their businesses every day. GROWTH is fun. It’s exciting to watch business owners take their companies in new directions, add new products and services, or expand their teams.

It can also be painful watching companies grow. Growth can be exhausting and expensive. I hear owners repeatedly say they wish they would have stayed small, or they express they had no idea how taxing growth could be. Growth isn’t easy. If it was, we’d all be growing.

Growth is a good thing for many of us when it’s done in the right way and at the right time. But it’s not always a good time to grow. About half the owners who call me saying they want to GROW are actually not ready to GROW. Sometimes what they need to do is shore up their current business—get systems in place, work on their core business and hone in on their ideal customer. Growing a business too quickly, or when the owner or the leadership team isn’t ready, can be disastrous.

So how do you know if it is time to GROW?

Here are some questions I ask potential clients:

1.   Do you have a clear picture of what you want the business to be when it grows up? 
Having a clear vision of what the business will look like down the road helps you build the systems and take action along the way. If you don’t know where you’re headed or what you want from the business, how can you grow? Getting crystal clear about the future and what it may look like gets your mindset thinking about growth. There’s no way your company will look exactly like how you envision it to be, but having a solid vision helps set the course and points you in the right direction.

2.   Have you identified your area of expertise and your ideal client? 
Knowing what your core business is and who you sell to is key. I often ask owners what their core area of expertise is and they give me a laundry list. While they may do many of those things, they cannot be experts in all of them. Getting clear about what your primary business is and who your perfect clients are for that product or service sets you up for future growth.

3.   Do you know your numbers? 
If you’re unclear about your numbers and not able to create realistic budgets and projections, growth could cause a shortage of cash or it could put you out of business. Companies are most at risk of experiencing a cash flow crisis while they’re growing. Knowing and tracking your numbers, being able to watch for trends and secure funding before you need it, are important steps to take prior to growth.

4.   Do you have systems in place?
Systems are so important to long-term success. You cannot run the business successfully and grow if everything lives only in your head. Creating a plan for growth and thinking through what systems will be needed before you begin growing can save you a great deal of time and energy. Without systems, growth can cause things to fall through the cracks and can actually get in the way of growth.

5.   Is the market telling you to grow? 
Have you maxed out? Are people asking for more than you have? Sometimes we want to grow but the market is not telling us it wants more of what we’re selling. Pay attention to what your customers are saying and to what your industry is doing.

6.   Are you currently charging what you are worth? 
There are many ways to grow a company. You can sell more to clients that you already have, you can go get new clients, or you can charge more. Before you begin the process of adding new products or going after new markets, make sure you are charging what you’re worth. Too often I see business owners charging less than they should. You should not gouge your customers, but you should be charging what you’re worth and what your product is worth.

7.   Do you have support? 
Growth is exhausting. You will need people to support you in the process. You will also need your loved ones to understand and support the season you are in.

8.   Is your industry growing? 
Look for trends in your industry. What’s happening now? What’s predicted to happen? Is the industry growing or shrinking? There are always examples of businesses growing even when the industry is shrinking, and yet, paying attention to your industry can be a good indicator as to whether growth is probable.

9.   Do you have the energy and space in your life to ramp up?
Take an honest look at your business and your life. Is this a good time to grow? Do you have the reserves and support you need to be able to ramp up your efforts? Sometimes life prevents us from jumping into growth simply because it’s not the right time. I know this from experience. I tried to grow in a season of overwhelm and it didn’t work. I had to scale back, shore up, and build some reserves before I could take on growth.

10. Do you WANT to GROW? 
To grow you must really WANT it. Growth requires that we get out of our comfort zone, that we move beyond what we know, and venture into new areas. This will require more of you. And if you don’t really WANT it, you won’t do the work needed to make it happen.