How To Turn The War For Talent Into Your Competitive Advantage

Most employers ask, “How are we going to hire more high performing people?”

Visionary employers ask, “How are we going to turn this labor shortage into our competitive advantage?”

No matter where you are on the spectrum – stocked with talent or struggling to hire and retain the people you need to grow… talent management has become a c-suite must have.

“More people left our company this past year than we were able to physically hire. Our turnover rates are preventing our company from growing because we are constantly re-training new employees!”

 “Most Millennials want to make their own schedule and struggle to push other people to drive results. I know I’m supposed to hire them but how do I know they can handle our expectations?”

 “The number one challenge our company is facing today is hiring talented people. Most people don’t want to work in our industry and they can go to another company down the road and make more money.”

We hear these kinds of comments every day when we’re out meeting or working with local leaders.

With unemployment rates near or below 3% across the state, companies are getting creative about how to source more people to support their company’s needs, while others are struggling to recruit and retain the people they need to grow.

This is a challenge that nearly every industry faces – whether they know it or not.

That’s why the Tennessee Department of Economic Development (TNECD) and AMEND Consulting are partnering to help you win today’s war for talent.

If you’re ready to find ways to turn today’s talent shortage into a competitive advantage – JOIN US! We’re hosting a happening-only-once-in-Tennessee-event on November 30th. You will…

  • Learn how culture effects your ability to attract and retain top talent
  • See how Tennessee’s low unemployment and attractive business incentives makes your labor shortage especially challenging
  • Discover tangible ways you can start winning the talent game – starting right now
  • Master Millennials! Discover how to attract, retain, and develop top talent in ways that build your competitive advantage.
  • Better compete in (and win) the War for Talent when you’re battling against companies like Amazon and other local powerhouses.
  • Leverage automation to move current talent to higher priority projects

 

WHEN? NOVEMBER 30, 2017 FROM 7:30A TO 9:30A
WHERE? ONE CENTURY PLACE CONFERENCE CENTER (ROOM 104).

Not quite ready to sign up?
Learn more about this exclusive event here.

People Over Profits – That’s The AMEND Way

“If you haven’t told someone you care about that you love them in the last 24 hours please take a moment to do so.” <Paul Delaney>

This message went out to our team at 10:30a today.

It served as a powerful reminder of what’s important – family, friends, the clients we are honored to serve, each and every individual person, whether we come in contact with them or not.

People. You. Me. Us. Each other. We’re what’s important. We are what matter most.

Our existence isn’t about creating profits, lining our pocketbooks, or climbing company ladders. It’s about enjoying, celebrating, and honoring each other. It’s about exploring together. Learning together. Making great things happen. Together.

I’ve never been part of a team that’s so comfortable prioritizing family, faith, and friendship like this team.

These pieces are often hidden away because people don’t feel comfortable sharing these core areas of their lives with those they spend the most time with. What a shame.

Around here, these elements are front and center. When times are good, these elements grow stronger. In times of conflict, it’s faith, family, and friendship that guide us through. This is our foundation. It’s what ties us together. It’s what gives us the courage we need to push ourselves and our clients to new places.

 

If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.

-African Proverb

 

This team has big plans. We’re invested in growing. We’re focused on traveling far.

And, while I don’t have any way of knowing how far we will go, I can say with certainty, we will go as far as we can go together.

 

 

We Over Me

Basketball. Love it or hate it, we’ve been feeling the madness of it for the past month. (One month!?! I hear ya, it seems like it’s been a lot longer than that to me too!)

This year’s tourney was filled with all the things we love about sports. Underdogs winning. Proven winners failing. Good teams becoming great.

Moments of greatness can be found throughout the tournament and I’m sure each magical moment demonstrates a valuable lesson. But, the final five seconds of this year’s championship game was bigger for me than all of those moments combined. Here’s why…

I’ll Take Scrappers Over Spit-Shined Every Time

Villanova probably wasn’t on top of many brackets. They aren’t a team of superstars with a bunch of hardware in their trophy cabinets. They don’t have a strong history of winning championships, unlike many of the teams they’ve faced in their 36 appearances (8th highest in NCAA history). They certainly weren’t expected to beat a top-caliber team like UNC – a team with a higher overall winning percentage and 5, yes 5, national championships under their belts.

Yet here we are, talking about Villanova, this year’s tourney champs.  I’ve read at least a dozen articles breaking down the 3, 5 or 7 reasons Villanova won. I’ve heard a lot of the conversations about the game – how thrilling it was to watch, how exciting it was to see it come down to the wire, how fantastic is was to see both teams fighting for victory. Yes, yes, and yes. It was all that and more…

This championship game was special to me because it captures everything I know to be true about high-performing teams.

Villanova, a group of unselfish young scrappers, stepped on that court as an army of one. Their ‘play-til-the-whistle’ hustle, plus their ‘fight-til-the-buzzer’ togetherness was the 1-2 combination they needed to beat a team like UNC.

I see this same pattern with many of the teams I work with. Teams who come together, who commit to achieving something bigger than any one person can do on their own, win every time.

Turn It Over – You’ve Got To Trust To Triumph

I’m sure Villanova has a nice collection of game winning plays in their playbook. Their coach did his job during their last time out. He set the vision. He made the call. He picked the play he thought would give them the best chance of a win. And then, like all great leaders, he got out of the way.

He trusted his players to make the best decisions possible. He turned it over to his team.

During his post-game interview, Villanova’s Head Coach Jay Wright said, “When we have an end-of-a-game-situation like that, we put it in Arch’s hands. It’s Arch’s job to make the decision.”

Complete trust – without hesitation. He turned the game and the outcome over to his team. Win or lose, he trusted them to deliver their best…and they did.

The winning teams I work with have this same high level of trust. They all know where they are going and why it’s important for them to get there. Together.

We Over Me

“I am what I am because of who we all are.” Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist shared this idea of human kindness, or Ubuntu, during one of her many rallies.

I think the idea of we over me perfectly captures what a team is all about. Each person is able to be great because of the strength and greatness around them.

Villanova’s point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, had the ball in his hands. He had the ability to take the shot of a lifetime – the buzzer-beating-game-winner in THE big championship game. This was it. The moment all competitors dream about.

Did he shoot and score? Nooooo. He passed the ball to his teammate, Kris Jenkins, a player who said he would be open and lives to make these shots. He is their high-pressure, go-to shooter.

When asked about this decision after the game, Ryan simply said, “Every kid dreams about that shot. I wanted that shot, but I just had confidence in my teammates and Kris was able to knock down that shot.”

Ryan followed through on his belief of we over me. His selflessness created an entire team of unexpected champions.

The best-of-the-best teams I work with have this same we over me mindset. They aren’t about all-star individuals who overshadow everyone else. They focus solely on combining their individual strengths to create amazing results.

 

The big game is over. Another March Madness is in the books. It’s April now, and I’m sure it won’t be long until this season fades from memory. But the last five seconds of this game will remain special to me, not because of the teams who played or how the game was won. This game will remain special to me because it perfectly captures the power of we over me.

 


If you need help building high-performing teams, let’s connect.

But The Wise Listen To Others…

“Fools think their own way is right but the wise listen to others.”
– Proverbs 12:15 NLT

I love how the best lessons and reminders are simple. You just get ’em.

They become a part of you almost instantly, and they stick with you forever.

This lesson wasn’t a slap in the face…more of a gentle nudge. A reminder that asking for help and reaching out to others isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and wisdom.

Do you struggle with asking for help? I do sometimes.

Is it hard for you to reach out to others? To admit that someone else has a better idea or approach than you? It happens. We’re human.

Here are a few things I do to keep on the path towards wisdom. Maybe they can help you too.

1) Surround Myself With Great People
I’m constantly working to put myself in the middle of the smartest people in the room. I also hire people with different backgrounds and experiences than me, and I learn from the many different leaders I help coach and develop. This virtually guarantees I’ll get smarter and have plenty of opportunities for listening.

2) Force It
It’s easy to do whatever you want when you’re a leader – especially if you don’t have anyone to call you out on your actions and decisions.

We hold regular AMEND leadership team meetings and board meetings. I also participate in local CEO development programs like the Cincinnati Chamber’s CEO Roundtable program. These meetings force me to pull my thoughts together, share them, and then be vulnerable and open to feedback. I still don’t always listen, but I always walk away smarter.

3) Make It Fun!
Getting people to engage can be a challenge. Making it fun can help you get more effective feedback. Challenge your employees to first find all the flaws with your idea, then challenge them to create solutions. Best solution wins.

Think about the different types of people you know – the know-it-alls, the shy ones, the stuffy ones, the crazy ones… Work to get feedback from each type of person in a week or less.

Working on solving a tough problem? Host a problem party. Share the problem, share the solutions you’ve discovered so far, and then turn everyone loose. Give them 48 hours to create solutions, then have them present the solutions to you in a Shark-Tank-like setting.

No matter if you listen to the king of kings or the king of the electric strings, the lesson remains:

“Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.”
– Jimi Hendrix

 

 

People or Process – What’s Really Causing Your Problems?

Our instincts almost instantly identify people as the source of all problems. We blame the person closest to the problem even when we know it’s not their fault.

Even when we can clearly see the cause of the problem, we still blame the person.

Even when we know facts like 95% of all problems are process problems, leaving just 5% as people problems, we still blame the person closest to the problem.

Why? Why are we trapped in this never-ending cycle of blaming people for the problem even when we logically know it’s not their fault? And, what can we do about it?

 

Defining the problem is the biggest challenge of all.

It’s quick and easy to simply blame the person closest to the problem for the problem. It takes the least amount of time and energy and there’s usually very few negative consequences. The person either accepts the blame or tries to defend or explain their actions. No matter their reaction, it all comes across as excuse making. Again, it remains easier to blame them – first for the problem, then for making excuses.

It takes much more time and energy to review the situation, analyze the details, and figure out the real source of the problem.

Plus, defining the real problem is a challenge for a lot of people. So many people struggle with defining their problems that problem-solving experts have created more than 50 processes to help people define their problems! Is this a problem?

 

Action is the next challenge.

Assuming you define the problem well…what to do next often becomes a challenge. Analysis usually leads to the best decisions and solutions. However, many people don’t have the skills or resources to properly analyze the situation. This gap often leaves the problem unsolved and the best solution undiscovered.

 

Commitment is the final step.

It’s more than committing to action… Action will have to take place to solve your problem – especially one that’s large enough to spend time on. What you’ll need to commit to here is awareness, mindfulness, and change.

You’ll need to commit to taking the time to fully review the situation instead of blaming the person closest to the problem. You’ll need to commit to ignoring your instinct to blame, and instead, commit to a deeper problem solving approach.

 

People can be the problem. Most of the time, they aren’t. If you begin with this belief – the belief that people want to do good work – you will instantly improve your problem solving ability and become a much better leader.

Keep Moving Forward

It’s that time of year…

Lights, decorations, and sweet treats abound. Hope, faith, and magic fill us with excitement and anticipation.

It’s a time of reflection and planning. A time to celebrate where you’ve been, and all you’ve learned on your journey. A time to say, “this is what I want to discover next!”

Don’t Miss This Opportunity!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the holiday cheer. The visiting, the gift-giving, the eating. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and forget to take a few moments to define what YOU want.

Don’t miss this opportunity.

Leverage the magic and energy of this time of year to define what you want to accomplish, what you want to explore, what difference you want to make moving forward.

Soak It All In

We’re no fools. We know the holidays aren’t all rainbows and sunshine. They’re stressful, and tiresome, and loaded with surprises (both good and bad).

Soak it all in.

Take a few moments to feel it all, and then use these opportunities to grow. Challenge yourself to fully engage. Ask yourself, “what more can I do?” Then do it!

Issue A BOLO!

Be on the lookout.

Spending time with new people, or people you don’t get to see very often…enjoying new experiences…trying new things – all these new and interesting activities can stretch your thinking if you let them.

There are hundreds of learning opportunities all around, every day. And, you’ll catch more of them if you’re looking for them!

One lesson that caught us by surprise was a little gem tucked inside the Disney film, Meet the Robinsons. The story was about an orphaned boy who found an amazing home with a “less than normal” family. The story line’s not so surprising or even original.

Keep Moving Forward. (This was surprising!)

Wow! Simple, yet so powerful. The Robinson Family motto or mantra was Keep Moving Forward. (Turns out this was Walt Disney’s mantra, too.)

No matter what happened, good or bad, they reminded themselves to always keep moving forward. They knew this would bring more good than bad. They knew action was the only thing that would change anything.

Life is lived in one direction – forward. During this time, and throughout the year, it’s our hope that your days will be filled with laughter, wonder, and discovery…and that your hearts will be filled with hope, faith, and a little magic.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Employee Engagement – High or Low?

Employee engagement. It’s tossed around a lot, but can you tell the difference between an employee who is truly engaged and one who isn’t?

And, are they really worth the effort?

Highly engaged employees can make a measurable impact on your business. They can help accelerate your growth, attract and retain other top talent, increase your profitability, and more.

Most leaders agree, highly engaged employees are worth the investment. So…

What makes a highly engaged employee tick? What makes them frustrated? What do they really want?

Many highly engaged employees care about things like talking about their progress, having someone around that encourages their development, and having many learning opportunities.

They also want meaningful benefits like flexibility, competitive compensation, and health care.

“Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”

– Zig Ziglar

How well do you stack up in these core areas?

Do you have interesting work for people to do? Even someone with a “do-the-same-thing-everyday” job can work on a special project that’s interesting and exciting.

Do you give feedback and recognition for work done well?

Do you consistently share things that are going on in the company? (Round tables, team huddles, and town hall meetings are all popular sharing forums these days.)

Research shows the cost of replacing one highly engaged employee can cost 20% or more of that person’s salary. That’s money lost.

Research also shows the reasons employees leave are the same today as they were almost a decade ago.

The good news is, this same research tells us most of the reasons employees leave can be influenced by managers and leadership.

The unfortunate things is, not much has changed in the last decade. People are still leaving for the same reasons, and leaders are still missing the same opportunities to keep their best people around.

Employee engagement can feel like an additional layer of work that has to be done to keep your best performers around.

Done right, however, employee engagement efforts shouldn’t feel like anything extra at all. Employee engagement efforts should simply feel like running your business.

 

Gratitude Generates Greatness & Growth

Drive to the finish. Make things happen. Let’s get to it. Push. Push. Push.

Business leaders toss out these commands year round as they work to rally their troops and deliver results.

These phrases, and more like them, are especially popular this time of year – as we all push to hit our targets and deliver our year-end results.

It’s easy to believe a go-go-go environment leads to high productivity levels. Recent research, however, shows this might not be true.

Having An Attitude of Gratitude Makes A REAL Difference

We know our leaders and their effectiveness can have a direct impact on our bottom line. (They can impact our profits up to 30%!)

Did you know GRATITUDE can have the same type of effect? It can, and its reach extends well beyond profits.

Double the health care costs, 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, 60% more errors and defects, 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time – this is the long list of benefits a high-pressure company environment delivers.

Positive cultures, or companies with gratitude attitudes experience the exact opposite. They achieve more, have better corporate citizens, experience less burn out, tend to pay it forward, have a more positive feedback loop, have much higher employee engagement and commitment, are more resilient, and have happier, healthier employees.

The Bottom Line: Gratitude Generates Greatness & Growth

Ready to bring more gratitude into your company? Now’s the perfect time! Here are some easy ways to get started today.

6 Ways To Practice Growth-Generating Gratitude

1) Encourage positive connections. Research by Sarah Pressman at the University of California, Irvine, found that the probability of dying early is 70% higher for people with poor social relationships. Since most people spend a majority of their time working, or dealing with the people they work with, it’s more important than ever for these relationships to be positive.

2) Actually say thank you.

“Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group — assigned to work on a different day — received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”

Harvard Business Review

Dana Earhart Litif, a business coach and strategist, encourages her clients to ‘bookend their thanks.

“This is a wonderful habit to get in to.  Start and end each conversation, meeting, event by showing your gratitude.  Thank the person or group for their time, expertise, purchase (whatever the case may be) and end with another round of thanks.”

3) Listen. Make eye contact. Eliminate distractions. Set down your mobile phone or tablet, and move back away from the computer. Make the other person feel important, like their thoughts and perspectives are important to you. The more you can make people around you feel valued and appreciated, the more gratitude you’ll generate.

4) Help. Whenever possible, offer help. When it’s not possible, encourage your employees to help each other. When everyone has everyone else’s back, trust replaces competitiveness. Gratitude replaces bitterness. Growth replaces decline.

5) Extend empathy. Many moons ago, it was much easier to walk a mile in other people’s shoes. Today, with more and more people have specialized skills, this becomes much harder. Empathy is critical to building trust, driving effective communication, and ultimately, great leadership. A relationship can only exist when two people decided to relate to each other.

6) Avoid blame and forgive mistakes. This is probably the toughest action item on the list. Many people are so good at being the victim, not blaming is virtually impossible. And forgiving mistakes – forget about it. Mistakes are held over people’s heads, documented on performance reviews, and posted on boards in break rooms. This promotes shame, guilt, and fear…all negatives. Turn these into positives, and watch your productivity and engagement grow.

It’s that time of year – reflection, celebration, and gratitude abound. Now’s the perfect time to strengthen your gratitude attitude.


 

We are grateful for the many clients who trust us to build in to their people, optimize their processes, and transform their organizations. We are even more grateful for the people who build in to us. Thank you! (If you’re struggling with people or process problems, we can help. Contact us for a free review meeting.)

 

Boost Your Business With A One-Page Strategic Action Plan

Most strategic plans take forever to create, then sit, unused, in fancy binders.

They stay in these binders until shelf space is needed, or until your office gets moved…or until some outside change draws attention to them.

Most strategic plans are a huge waste of time, effort, energy, and money because they are beautifully crafted and then tucked away. Never to be seen, referenced, or used.

Compare this to a sports team’s play book. A play book is created, studied, optimized, memorized, and put to the test each and every game. Winning plays are kept, improved, and reused. Less effective plays are evaluated, learned from, reinvented, or removed.

If strategic plans were more like play books, they would be the best business investment you could make – one that drives massive change and growth. One with an enormous ROI.

How can  you tap in to the power of a one-page strategic action plan? It’s simple! Create a one-page strategic action plan.

 

Here’s how.

STEP ONE: Create your canvas.
You will need to define the four main areas of your one-page strategic plan. Mission/Vision, Objective(s), Goals, and Tactics.

Some people prefer to work with pen or pencil and paper. Some prefer digital canvases like a Word Document or Excel Spreadsheet. No matter your preference, you will need to define four main spaces for capturing each of these elements.

 

STEP TWO: Dive in.
This is the hardest, most time consuming step. Most business leaders can’t simply sit down and fill in these blanks because most of these elements have NEVER been defined for the business.

Sure, there are goals…action items…projects…activities that are supposed to be happening to move the business forward. It’s rare, however, for those activities to be linked to the overall business plan and objectives.

Here’s some tips to help you define each important piece of your one-page strategic action plan.

MISSION/VISION – the rallying cry of your business. What people sign up for when they join your team. This is not the elaborate mission statement most create. This is not intended to be carved into marble and hung above the front entry. This should not be filled with long, complicated phrases, or filled with fluffy and fancy words. This should be 7-10 words that capture your magic. Here are a few examples:

ZAPPOS – deliver happiness (Notice how this isn’t about selling shoes, fast delivery, or free returns…it has nothing to do with WHAT they do. It has everything to do with WHY they exist. This is what you’re working to capture.)

APPLE COMPUTER – hub of the home (Again, this isn’t about iMacs, iPhones, or Apple TVs…it’s about WHY they exist…it’s their true North.)

COCA-COLA – refreshing the world (Again, this isn’t about making the world’s most favorite cola, or any other product…it’s about defining the space they will play in and their playground. They will play in the refreshment space, worldwide.)

OBJECTIVE(S) – where you want the business to be 3-5 years from today. Use a five year timeline if your growth requires a lot of capital. Use a three year timeframe for all other businesses.

Objectives can be numbers like 500 clients, or $1.3MM in revenue, or increases of XX%. They can also be specific accomplishments – e.g. the preferred hearing-aide in North America, or the largest law firm in the city, or the brand on more sidelines…

No matter the format, your objective(s) MUST BE MEASURABLE. You need to be able to say “yes, we’ve achieved this” or “no, we’re still not there yet” one, two, and three years from today.

It also needs to stretch but not break you. It has to be big enough to force change, yet not so big it becomes unrealistic and overwhelming.

Your objective(s) must also be inline with your Mission/Vision.

GOALS – The bigger actions that must happen in the next 12 months to achieve your objectives.

Larger projects, department changes, equipment purchases/exchanges, reorganization – these are all examples of larger actions that need to happen in order for the objectives to be achieved.

Define 3-5 goals. (Tip: some teams find it helpful to define all the goals that must be achieved in order to deliver the objective(s), and then prioritize based on timing and resources. Some things must happen before others are even possible. Define and prioritize your goals in a way that’s best for you.)

Make it clear what must happen by when (e.g. new development team created, 8 months). And then, assign an owner. This person is responsible for delivering these results. They will own the goal from start to finish.

TACTICS – The smaller action items that must happen to deliver each goal.

Each larger project area will have multiple smaller actions or tactics under it. Define as many as make sense. You don’t need to list every single action, just the main actions that will deliver the goals. Each tactic should also have an owner.

(Note: this step is typically completed by the goal owner since delivery and completion is their responsibility. The leadership team can review and advise upon completion.)

 

STEP THREE: Get going.
Put your plan in motion. Start taking action. Don’t worry about making your plan perfect. It will never be perfect. You will come across things you don’t know…steps and actions you didn’t think of… That’s OK. Update your plan. Make changes. Adapt. And then, keep moving forward.

 

NOW’S THE TIME!
It’s planning time for most businesses making now the perfect time to create your one-page strategic action plan.

A one-page strategic action plan blends the best of a traditional strategic plan with the best of a playbook. It’s the best business-building tool around, yet very few businesses are using it.

If you need to move your business in a new direction, a one-page strategic action plan will help guide your ship.

If you need to empower and engage employees, a one-page strategic plan is the perfect way to connect the business’s needs with their individual needs.

If you need to drive results, a strong one-page strategic action plan driven by strong leaders is the best way to make action happen.

 


AMEND Consulting specializes in working with passionate leaders to drive positive, lasting change. We understand the power of a one-page strategic action plan, and what it takes to create one. If you’re ready to create a one-page strategic plan and don’t want to go it alone, we can help. Let’s connect.

Growth Doesn’t Have To Cost Gagillions

Growth doesn’t have to cost gagillions, but it will take time…

And TIME is the one element almost all business leaders underestimate.

It’s easy to believe things happen faster than they actually do. It feels like this is true. Everything is moving so fast, it must be true.

The truth is business growth comes in two speeds: slow and slower.
The expectation of instant business growth results is dangerous. Expecting instant business growth results makes you walk away from good ideas, miss promising opportunities, or waste resources.

You may put off business growth initiatives – you know, the “hard stuff” that requires real change to make a difference – thinking they will roll out faster and have an impact sooner than is realistic.

You may think you have a high failure rate, terrible follow through, or the complete inability to launch new initiatives because all your plans fall through…when the truth is your plans were unrealistic from the start.

You may overspend on an initiative thinking that throwing more money at the effort will speed your results and increase your returns, when the only thing that will actually make any difference is TIME.

So how long does business growth actually take?

The straight answer is, it depends. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and how effective you are at getting stuff done. We can’t give you an exact answer on how long business growth actually takes. We can, however, share some averages with you. Using these growth time averages will make your growth plans stronger while keeping your expectations in check.

 

There are four basic ways to grow your business and all of them require 13 months or more to implement.

Growth Option 1: Sell More Of Your Current Products/Services To Your Existing Customers
Timing: 13 months or less

Selling more of your current stuff to your existing customers seems like the easiest and most obvious move. It is, and it’s one you should absolutely make. It’s also the move with the shortest lifespan and the smallest returns.

Most options in this category require you to make small tweaks and changes to your current offerings. A slight customization here, another there. Any small changes of 20% or less versus what you’re currently doing would fit in this category.

Many times these are customer driven. A current customer calls with a request for a slight change or modification. It seems easy enough, so you do it. Now you have a slightly different offering that may appeal to other customers, so you extend the offering, and so on.

Another business growth option in this category is increasing your throughput/optimizing your operations. This is a great option when sales is not your problem. If you have more orders than you can handle, making changes to your delivery process can can be a great source of growth.

We once helped a client increase their throughput by 30% without adding people or equipment. This change allowed them to win a job with an existing customer that nearly doubled their business. They would not have even bid on this business prior to working with us because they had ZERO capacity for additional work and a huge backlog.

 

Option 2: Sell More Of Your Current Products/Services To New Customers
Timing: 13-20 months

Beware of this one… Many business leaders will see this as an easy option. A no-brainer.

The truth is this one is easy to underestimate.

It’s easy to think, “there’s lots of customers out there who want what we sell.” The reality is, every buying group is different, so while you won’t have to make a lot of changes to WHAT you’re selling, you will have to make a lot of changes to HOW you’re selling it.

Success here will require you to change anywhere from 20-40% of your sales and operations versus what you’re doing today. You will have to learn about a whole new set of buyers… What are their problems? What solutions currently exist? How do you compare versus those current solutions? What do they value most? You will need answers and a plan for overcoming a whole new set of questions and objections.

You will also have to make some changes to your product to adapt to these new conditions. And, you won’t know what those changes are until you start selling.

Net: if you decide to head down this path, do so with your eyes wide open and your expectations in check. This is not an easy, no-brainer. It’s a challenge that requires dedicated resources and – you guessed it – time.

 

Option 3: Sell New Products To Existing Customers
Timing: 20-34 months

Option 3 is interesting, indeed. Many believe this to be an easy and profitable path, however, this path must be walked carefully if you want to gather up all your rewards.

Challenge #1 – your existing customers know you and love you for who you are and what you already do. They like you, and they want you to keep doing it. New is risky, and risky can cause challenges. Why change if everything is “just fine.”

Challenge #2 – your existing customers know you and love you for who you are and what you already do! (Yes, this was intentionally repeated. It’s this thinking that usually makes existing customers your least profitable customers.) They want to be rewarded for their loyalty and their support of you over the past XX years. They expect to be treated as special. They expect to get the best deals at the lowest prices, always.

This mentality makes it hard to sell them new products at higher price points. This becomes even more challenging if you’re doing a good job and they are already satisfied.

 

Option 4: Sell New Products To New Customers
Timing: 34 months or more

The most disruptive, the most risky, and the most profitable option is also the one that takes the longest to execute. Solutions here will take you way out of your comfort zone, and challenge your skills in new and exciting ways.

Not much of your current activity will apply to these options – you’re looking at a 60-100% change versus what you’re doing today. Every department will be effected. New people and equipment will be required. New customers will be defined.

This kind of growth is a struggle for everyone. Small, medium, large and mega-jumbo companies all struggle to make this happen. A lot of companies throw a lot of resources (people, time, money) against this, yet achieve zero new growth.

This. Is. Hard. This is more than innovation, it’s invention. It’s not enough for these ideas to be new to you, or new to your area. These ideas have to be new to the world. They have to be big enough that risking everything makes sense.

This…this challenge is why mergers and acquisitions are so powerful when it comes to driving disruptive growth. Mergers and acquisitions allow you to shake things up without all of the disruption coming from the inside. They also allow you to see the idea is viable before diving in.

 

How Can You Tell If You’re On A Growth Path?
David Thomson provides one option in his book Blueprint To A Billion™. Thomson studied 387 companies – America’s highest growth companies – for three years. He wanted to know how these top performers turned an idea into a billion dollar business. (Now THAT’S growth! It’s also a pretty good success standard – exponential growth. Revenues of a billion dollars plus would equal success by most any measure.)

Thomson, through his research, actually quantifies the growth patterns of America’s highest growth companies. One of the most fascinating elements – time. Every one of the 387 companies studied followed one of three growth paths when it came to their revenue take-off points –  3, 6, and 12 years*.

So give yourself time. Plan for it. Big growth is a marathon, not a sprint.

 

Time, Time, Time, Is On Your Side…Yes It Is…
Well, it is if you manage it properly. Knowing how long initiatives actually take (on average) is a big step in the right direction. It can help you make stronger, more proactive growth plans. It can help help you better manage and lead your growth expectations. Time can be a competitive advantage, or it can be your toughest competitor. Use it well.

 

Of course there will be disappointments and the way will not always be as I expected it.
But if it seemed easy, then that would be the time to worry that I am on the wrong path.

Anne Perry

 

 

AMEND Consulting specializes in helping passionate business leaders achieve growth. We love “unsolvables” – those “I-just-can’t-make-these-go-away problems” all businesses seem to have, no matter how smart the leadership team… If you’re growing too fast, growing too slow, unable to grow, worried about growth, or paralyzed by the thought of growth, we can help. Let’s connect.


Timing Data Source: Abbie Griffin, The Journal of Product Innovation Management

*3, 6, and 12 years – this is how long it took for the companies to reach their inflection point…that place where all the sudden, all their hard work began doubling, and tripling, and so on. The short-term successes were mostly technology companies…those operating in booming markets, that could move quickly, with little to no capital investment. The 6-year and 12-year curves were the makers and builders…those who needed physical infrastructure, capital equipment, etc. to achieve their success.