Can you (really) steer your business in the right direction?
As a company owner or CEO, one thing’s for certain – you never quite know if your business is moving in the right direction – if it’s growing from the core or if it’s being swayed ‘to and fro’ by its environment. In a word, a company’s growth can best be compared to raising children – it’s downright difficult to know if you’re doing a good job.
So what, if any, are the telltale signs indicate that your company is growing and growing well and… how can you harness and the proverbial ‘right’ growth pace in your organization?
First step: good vision
A growing company is any company whose business generates significant positive cash flows or earnings, which increase at significantly faster rates than the overall economy. But one of the best signs of a growing company is in fact, good vision.
Illustrating and implementing your company vision and then “leading by example” is the cornerstone of any successful company. This is how you get your employees on board, build trust and loyalty, and yet, still allow employees to maintain an independent thought process and growth. A sure sign that you may be lacking clear company vision is when employees repeatedly ask, “What’s next?” when you’ve already noted specific tasks to your managers.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has frequently commented on this very topic, releasing several company vision-related statements. In this particular post, Zuckerberg addresses the challenges of Building Community within the organization, saying, “Our job at Facebook is to help people make the greatest positive impact… Facebook is a work in progress, and we are dedicated to learning and improving. We take our responsibility seriously, and [this is how] we plan to do our part to build this global community.”
Ask yourself: “What is our vision? Do we have a clear statement of purpose that every employee is aware of?”
The open door
Company growth is a result of changes within the organization, brought about by individuals, by leadership, the universe at large, but mostly, by technology. The root cause of change is the answer to this frequent and openly-asked question, “Why is this process done this way?”
Growing companies are those that encourage employees, their community, to raise questions, explore new theories and methodologies, to seek after newer, better ways in which to work. This, in turn, prompts the company to continuously review and assess its existing processes – all in the context of the organization’s goals. A growing company is one in which change is welcome, considered and (in keeping with this post), accepted.
Ask yourself: “When was the last time an employee spoke to you about a new idea, proposed a change, or shared a proverbial ‘lightbulb moment?’
A well-oiled machine
To grow your company in the right direction, ask yourself: “What major business process was reviewed in the last few of months? Consider, for example, your finance, human resources or customer support departments, all of which are managed by some type of software system. Despite the fact that we are all managed by digital assets, a healthy mix between automated and manual (people-managed) processes should always be maintained.
The understanding that in many instances within the organization, the ‘human touch’ is required, even when there’s an automated solution in place. This is a sign of good leadership and good leadership is the forbearer of a growing company. In a recent article by the American Society of Engineers, entitled Automation vs Human Intervention: What is the Best Fit for the Best Performance, cites the following: “Although human error is inevitable [and] while it may seem appealing to automate humans out of the man-machine system, we do provide judgment, logic and opinions.”
Ask yourself: “How often (or not) do I review our operational procedures to ensure they best serve the organization’s needs?”
Good managers need good management tools
This too, prompts a further question on how to grow your company in the right direction. As company managers, we know all too well that corporate decisions rest on the numbers and not (only) on our gut feelings. We also know that we make the best business decisions when we have the best available information, the actual data – hence, the facts.
To view, access and manage the reams of data we use in our daily work, growing companies have come to rely on (and praise) the market’s wealth of available business intelligence and business management tools, such as ERP, CRM and others. Organizations that implement tools to manage and control their business operations are essentially, already on the journey towards company growth.
Business management tools have been identified as a necessity for practically all companies, regardless of size or sector. They are no longer seen as a matter of choice, but as an imperative, as companies benefit from a real-time integrated view of all their core business processes. Not only does it provide visibility into, and control over, your company’s data, it can streamline and improve every aspect of your business.
There is no single solution, no one ‘right’ way to grow a company in the right direction, but with a clear vision, education, a feeling of community and continuous review of your processes, you will be well on your way.
And that – is growth.