Is growth a dirty word?

Today’s business vocabulary is filled with words that are accompanied by a sense of urgency. When we refer to profits or sales, we want them NOW–not in 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years. So no surprise that growth (which is generally viewed as more long term and strategic than sales), although highly desired by over 80% of CEO’s globally, is not on the front burner as much as it used to be.

The issue is we are an immediate gratification society. We want things now. Frankly, in the case of some businesses they NEED results now to keep from going under. The question is, are the two needs–short term performance and long term growth–mutually exclusive? Absolutely not. In fact, they can be very closed linked.

If we are short term performance focused, we are trying to drive sales and profits immediately. How do most do that? There are several common responses: 1) work harder by increasing sales metrics –the number of sales calls per day or change bonuses to drive closed sales 2) release a new product to get some new interest in the market or 3) offer a price promotion to drive short term response.

The challenge with these approaches is that they often have unintended consequences. Trying to get the salesforce to drive increased sales may work for a while but it is not sustainable long term as they burn out OR get used to waiting for periods of higher rewards to book the new business. Releasing a new product may be great but it is expensive and in today’s crowded market the majority still fail–not a guarantee for success. Finally, a price promotion may drive short term response but at a lower margin and may attract price driven customers, not loyal ones. Companies who try to drive short term business need to consider the long term consequences.

Long term growth is generated by being clear about where you are going and how you will get there. It can start quickly, but importantly it will last longer and have better consequences for your business. It may take you 30 days or even 6 months to put a plan together before you start implementation, but the plan will drive your business for a long time to come. This approach is ready-aim-fire rather than the all-too-frequent ready-fire-aim we see in the market today.

If you have a sense of urgency about getting better performance, have a sense of urgency about getting a plan together and prioritize the often identified “low hanging fruit” that sits along the path to long term purposeful growth. It is a sounder bet that pays off quickly but doesn’t backfire near as often!

Do you have a plan and if not, why not? We would like to hear from you! Please share your thoughts on the value of strategic planning to your organization.

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