No Growth Plan
As a consultant, I meet with business owners in all stages of growth—from companies just starting to companies planning an exit strategy. Nearly every one that I meet with has one ultimate goal: to grow the business. The owner wants a plan that will take the business to the next level.
Recently, however, I met with two different individuals but both had a similar quest: to not grow their respective businesses beyond their current state. I, frankly, was at a loss of words, which for those that know me, that is astounding in itself. It did give me something to think about as a consultant, and as a business owner. According to author Robert Bryne, “Everything is in a state of flux, including the status quo.”
Is it possible for a company to have a no-growth plan? The old farmer adage, “if you ain’t growing, you’re dying”, came to mind. Could a business survive without growth? And, if so, what would be needed to accomplish that plan?
After some careful consideration, I reached the conclusion that, yes, a business could have a plan to not grow. However, the operative word here is “plan”. And, since that is my area of expertise, I set about to help both companies develop a strategic blueprint on how not to grow, certainly presented a challenge.
Many questions had to be answered; some of which are not too different from questions that we ask when developing a growth plan.
- What is your market?
- How will you reach your market?
- Where do you see yourself in a year? In 5 years? In 10 years?
- Who is your competition?
- How many clients do your currently have?
- How many clients do you need to maintain your current revenue?
- Will your revenue needs increase/decrease in the next year? In 5 years? In 10 years?
- If your revenue needs increase, how will you compensate for that increase? Will you charge more per client? Or, will you need to increase the number of your clients to meet the increase need for additional revenue?
- Where will you find additional clients, if needed?
- Do you have an exit strategy?
When these questions are answered, a strategic plan will evolve. Any plan that a business has—whether to grow or to stay consistent—requires the owner to be intentional and deliberate in its planning. Just saying “I don’t want to grow” is not a strategic plan. Change will take place – revenue needs change; target markets change; the offered product/service change—nothing ever stays the same. And business owners must be able to keep up with the changes and be ready when they occur. If not, the change will be that the business will cease to exist. And that is not what my clients meant about not growing.
Bob Iger, Chairman of The Disney Corporation, said it best: “The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo”.
My advice to these two individuals: conduct their business at a pace that is comfortable for them and have a strategic plan in place to maintain the business at the desired pace.