Is the economic climate increasing the pressure you feel to find topline growth? Are you trying to do more with your limited resources? Searching for new ideas? Adding things to your team's plate?
Let me invite you to STOP.
It's so easy to get caught up in the pressure and chaos of the day-to-day. Whether you're fighting whatever fire sprung up today. Or stressed about preparing for the future.
Here are 4 common habits you can stop doing today, to grow your business faster.
If you asked your team to write down the #1 priority for this quarter, how many answers would you get?
When plates get full and time gets short, everyone starts prioritizing. If you aren't communicating priorities regularly, you can bet each team member is making their own decisions on what gets done and what waits.
The first time I joined a team as their General Manager and Marketing Lead, the role had been vacant for 4 months. No one had stepped up to steer the ship. It was a classic example of everyone making their own decisions.
The business was early in its life cycle with a small team acting like a start-up within a big company. Since the business was small, it was pretty cheap to try several tactics to attract new customers. Here are 4 tactics that were in progress when I arrived:
A different person spearheaded each idea. They were passionate about its potential and essentially worked alone to make it happen. Everyone was well-intentioned, but our limited resources were spread way too thin.
My first task was to align the team on common priorities and focus their efforts. My goal was to maximize our likelihood of success on 1 tactic, before moving on to the next. What did we choose first? We put all of our energy behind the PR opportunity.
After that was complete, we moved on to the next. The original ideas weren’t bad or wrong, there were just too many. Spreading resources thinly across a lot of good ideas can have the same impact as choosing bad ideas.
How can you help your team focus on today’s top priorities?
Which of your customers are getting the most attention? New prospects? Small customers? Whoever happens to call with a problem or request?
Have you considered your biggest customer as a growth opportunity? What other problems are they facing? How can you provide them with value? Time and energy spent on them might be the biggest “bang for your buck” that you're not thinking about.
In my corporate career, this meant understanding what our top 5 retailers needed. And making sure those needs were met before building plans for smaller retailers and emerging channels.
In my work now, it means understanding the top products, customer segments, or geographical regions of my clients. And looking for innovative ways to serve these groups.
It’s easy to get enamored with the next big thing, but new customer acquisition is often the hardest and most expensive path to growth. Of course, it can’t always be avoided, but looking to customers who already know, like, and trust your brand is always a good idea.
Are you trying to split your time between operating your business each day and planning for longer-term growth?
Let me guess, that growth plan has been just out of reach on the to-do list for a while. I've been there. It's nearly impossible to give bigger picture thinking the dedication it deserves when short-term issues need to be addressed.
Who on your team is hungry and ready to stretch into something bigger? Can you give them a test run and see how they do? They just might surprise you.
I was lucky to benefit from a boss who took this approach. Our base business was doing pretty well, and we were preparing for a huge new product launch. Even though the brand was in good shape, there was a lot of work to keep it healthy.
My boss delegated the day-to-day operation of the current business to me. She focused her time on preparations for the product launch the following year. This provided a unique opportunity for me to step into more responsibility (with the safety net of her still being there). And, it freed her up to focus on the next big thing.
Is there anyone on your team who is ready for more?
While this is a great option when the circumstances work out, sometimes it's better to bring in outside help. Especially when the team doesn't have enough resources or the right skill sets.
That was the case for a client of ours last year. They found themselves at a crossroads. For several months, the CMO had the feeling that new insights were lurking in existing data. But the demands of operating the business on a daily basis kept getting in the way of a deep dive.
It wasn’t realistic to delegate the day-to-day activities. And no one on the team had the skill set needed to complete the analysis. They reached out to us. In 4 weeks we conducted a comprehensive analysis that revealed new information about their growth drivers (and barriers). It revealed where to focus, and where not to focus, for their marketing budget this year.
Their hunch was correct, they had insights hidden right under their fingertips.
What activity has been lingering in the back of your mind? How can you use a different approach to tackle it once and for all?
It's our nature to strive for more. To put our heads down. To work harder.
But a few minutes spent thinking about what we can do less of, can spark more growth than another new idea added to an already crowded plate.
Which of these four habits will you implement today?