“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” This is a Universal Law of Nature, and it is a principle of business too. There’s no standing still, no room for complacency and no staying in the comfort zone. If we stand still, the world keeps going on without us.
Yet, sometimes we feel stuck in our business. We know we want to grow, but we don’t know what to do next. Or maybe we do, but we just don’t have the time to do it amidst the chaos of the day-to-day. So how do you create sustainable growth?
If you want to accelerate the growth of your business and make it sustainable, here are 5 keys to a winning strategy.
Key #1 – Create a Clear Vision
When you started your business, you had a dream. Maybe your business has exceeded what you even thought was possible then, and now you’re ready to dream the next dream. Or maybe your dream got lost in the journey of your business and you know it’s time to reclaim it.
Whatever your current situation, if you want to have a winning strategy to grow your business, you first need a clear Vision. Your team needs to know the desired destination before they can make it happen.
You can create the Vision yourself and then communicate it or, even better, you can enlist others in the dream to create a shared sense of destiny. You still come up with the direction, but they help you paint the picture. Or expand the possibilities even further and involve others in setting the direction too.
If you already have a Vision, here’s a test to see if it’s clear. Ask 5 random people in your company to tell you about the Vision in their own words – what does it mean to them?
If all 5 get it right, you’re on track to have alignment to your Vision. If any of them don’t know or misunderstand, you still have some work to do to make it clear for the organization (see Key #5).
Once your whole organization is clear and aligned to One Vision, your company can be unstoppable.
Key #2 – Focus, Focus, Focus
In today’s ever-changing environment, we can get caught up in the chaos and complexity. We can get consumed with chasing the latest distraction or idea. It’s an epidemic for business leaders called “shiny object syndrome.”
You know you have it when you are constantly changing focus for your team before they’ve had a chance to fully implement and measure the “last brilliant idea” or solved the “latest crisis.”
Clarity and focus are critical factors in the success of a leader, a team and an organization. If people aren’t clear about their role and what they’re supposed to be doing every day, they will swirl and become less and less effective.
To progress toward your Vision, you need a clear growth roadmap with Strategic Areas of Focus. What are the 3-5 priorities your team needs to focus on to scale and grow?
Don’t create more than 5 Strategic Areas of Focus or your team will get lost. Actually, three is the magic number. As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great says, “If you have more than 3 priorities, then you don’t have any.”
Imagine your Strategic Areas of Focus like lights shining on the road ahead as you’re driving at night. If your organization can’t see what’s next, you won’t get to your destination and you could potentially cause some damage. You may not be able to see every mile ahead from here to your destination, but you do need to be clear about what’s right in front of you.
Key #3 – Decide What to Stop
Once you’ve established your Strategic Areas of Focus, you want to assess what needs to stop to create total focus.
As we embark toward achieving our Vision, organizations sometimes continue to do things that either don’t work or don’t support the Vision. When someone questions “why do we do that?” The answer is often “we’ve always done it this way.”
Make it a practice for your organization to challenge one another about the value of activities and where you spend money. Ask the question for yourself too. Put all your energy and the energy of your team into doing work and investing money that contributes to where you’re going.
Key #4 – Build Momentum
One of the key roles of a leader is to remove obstacles. Before your organization can blast off toward growth, we want to clear the path of anything that’s getting in the way.
At Executive Leadership Consulting, the first step of our 4-A Process is “Assessment.” Once you’ve established where you’re going, you want to assess what needs to be fixed or put in place to get there.
From the Assessment, we first focus on the quick wins. A quick win is a small victory. It’s an indicator that shows the Vision is not only possible, we’re on our way to making it happen.
When people see fast progress, it creates momentum. You and your team will be more likely to stay focused and engaged when you start to see results right away.
Quick wins build motivation to keep going to the next step and show that we’re making a difference. Of course, it’s also important to celebrate all the wins – large and small – all along the journey toward your Vision.
Key #5 – Sustain Your Progress
To keep your team moving in the right direction, you need to reinforce the Vision and the Strategic Areas of Focus. That doesn’t mean you have to recite them like a parrot; it means getting your team engaged and keeping them engaged.
Talk about possibilities in the context of your Vision and Strategy. Celebrate accomplishments in the context of your Vision. Have fun with it! Acknowledge others’ strengths by how they will get “us” closer to the Vision. Share how realizing the Vision will benefit everyone, not just you personally and not just the bottom line.
Create themes and stories around your Vision and Strategy and look for different ways you can reinforce them in your organization. It may feel like you’re repeating yourself, and that’s good. In fact, that’s the point!
You’ll know the message is starting to take hold when you hear people talking about it and coming up with their own ideas. Listen to what they say and let them start to own it too.
By keeping the Vision and Strategic Areas of Focus top of mind, you will continue to build momentum and motivation to make your Vision a reality.
To sustain progress and growth, you and your organization need to stay focused and continuously evolve. It doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate. Take action, move forward and course correct when needed, and you’ll keep going and growing to make your dream a reality!