Growth is often equated with success
I recently saw an ad from a local CPA in the Monterey County Weekly entitled:
“You Grow Your Business
We’ll Help You Grow Your Success”
Obviously success and growth appear to be connected. Growth will lead to success is what the ad is suggesting. As in, we can only succeed if we grow our business. Would you say that’s true?
Well, I want to challenge that assumption.
First, why do we want to grow?
Paul Jarvis in his book Company of One states, “Most companies grow for four reasons: inflation, investors, churn, and ego.”
Inflation is real and you do need to protect yourself from it. You want to maintain equal purchasing power in the future.
If you have taken on outside investment, then growth is absolutely essential. The investors want to get their money back and then some.
Revenue from departing customers needs to be replaced with new revenue. It is imperative to look for new revenue sources or new customers to replace churning customers.
It feels good to be liked, popular, in demand, and yet too much ego can lead you down the wrong path. Growth for the sake of enlarging one’s ego might have a shadow side to be investigated.
Instead of focusing entirely on growth, I want to make a different argument. How about rather than, “Grow your business so you can succeed” we make a shift:
Improve your business so you will succeed.
Stop growing your company, make it better
Why would it be important to shift the focus to improvement rather than growth?
1. Pulitzer-prize winning historians Will and Ariel Durant in The Lessons of History write:
“Since inequality grows in an expanding economy, a society may find itself divided between a cultured minority and a majority of men and women too unfortunate by nature or circumstance to inherit or develop standards of excellence and taste.”
One could argue that a continually growing economy leads to exactly the inequality that we are experiencing worldwide right now.
Growth leads to inequality.
2. Recently I attended a talk by Obi Kaufmann, a naturalist, artist, California native, and historian as well as the author of The California Field Atlas here in Monterey. He probes California’s water challenge, offering alternatives to political logjams. He says, “I am here to question what will be lost if we just go for endless growth.”
Growth leads to depletion of resources.
3. Here’s what entrepreneur and former Icelandic presidential candidate Halla Tomasdottir says in her TED talk titled ‘The crisis of leadership – and a new way forward’:
“Our definition of success is incredibly masculine. It’s about financial profit alone or economic growth alone and we all know we need more than money. We need wellness for ourselves and our planet.”
Growth leads to lack of wellness for ourselves and the planet.
So how do we get well? How do we get better? How do we make our businesses better?
By developing and growing ourselves — that’s how. If we become better and role model how to make our businesses better, then that will be successful.
Here are five ways to grow and develop yourself and by doing so improve your business:
1. Be impeccable with your word
Being impeccable with your word means a lot of things, but mostly under promise and over deliver in your written and spoken word. Always. Your reputation depends on it. And your reputation is your most valuable currency. Don Miguel Ruiz powerfully speaks to the power of integrity in The Four Agreements.
What can you under promise and over deliver on?
2. Nurture ALL of your stakeholders
Don’t be a teenager!
Too many only reach out to others when they need them or when they want something from them. All you parents of teenagers know what I am talking about. You will only hear from your ‘independent’ 18-year-old when he needs something from you. Don’t be that person.
Instead be very deliberate in who your stakeholders are: your boss, your board of directors, your peers, your employees, your partners, your vendors and suppliers, your community, your neighbors, the next generations, the planet. All of them deserve your attention, not all of the time and not constantly, but consistently.
What can you initiate that would nurture a stakeholder group that you have ignored lately?
3. Be a good listener/observer
If you are stressed, constantly too busy, overcommitted and overworked, you don’t have the bandwidth to listen well or to observe things closely. You can’t see the problems and potential solutions that are all around you.
What can you eliminate from your schedule so you can listen and observe better?
4. Make good decisions
I have written about this before; no matter what industry you are in, you are in the business of making decisions. So set yourself up to make good ones. Do the most important work first and save the not so consequential decisions for later when you don’t need all of your brain power. And get on board for making decisions frequently, as any decision you don’t make will drain your energy.
What decision have you been postponing that if you were to make it, it would set you free?
5. Embrace change, not changing others
So much talk about change. Yes, there is change all around us. But you know what? Most of the change conversations that come up in my coaching sessions are from people who want to change other people’s opinion or behavior. Well, that isn’t going to work. Change yourself to change the world. That’s what’s meant by “Be the change.”
What change can you make that will positively impact people around you?