The Most Dangerous Word in Business

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Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?

“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.

Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.

At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.

You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.

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Hi! I’m Jacob Aldrich, Director of Strategic Advisory here at business depo talking with you today about the most dangerous word in business growth. Why its growth a dangerous word when in in fact 99% of the businesses that I go and talk to say that growth is one of their key objectives? Well, the challenge comes from this: Growth can mean many different things. Some of those things are mutually exclusive—do you mean growth in profit or growth in revenue? Do you mean growth in people? Growth in products? Growth in markets territories? You get two people together and both agree unanimously that growth is exactly what they need for this business, and then go and implement strategies that are competing.

The challenge comes because growth means so many things, and those business owners lack this simple framework they’re really talking about what exactly it is that they want from growth. This is what we call the capacity engine. The analogy that I’m making is that your business is like an engine. It has a certain amount of output which can be created now that output is usually measured in terms of dollars. What we also want to know is what’s the actual capacity of that business. What’s the maximum output dollars that you could generate given the team, the structure, the clients, the resources that you’ve got today? If we understand what a perfect world would be, we can then measure your current output as a percentage of the overall capacity.

This gives us an awful lot of valuable information for deciding the strategy for your business. For example, one thing we often find is that a team feels very busy but is running much less efficiently. What that means is that the business has created waste. There are inefficiencies elements in your workflow processes or systems your procedures which are creating waste within the business. Your engine is not getting the output that it potentially could. Now, like an engine, you’ve got to be careful not to try and run it all the way to the limit. You put your pedal to the metal floor. Your business for a long going basis, you will create burn out amongst the staff. Similarly, if you look for too long, you’ll create other issues within the business, so you need to make sure that your business is continually generating an output somewhere in the sweet spot of the current engine.

Now, when you talk about growth, you’re talking about growing revenue, growing profit. You’ll often be talking about getting more out of the current engine today’s resources and team. If that’s the case, then what you’re really talking about with growth is how do we get more power, and there’s a few different ways that you can do that including things like branding, marketing culture, and even just better systems and processes to address that waste. Of course, at a certain point you will be getting a sustainably high level of output from the engine you’ve got today. In that situation, if you want growth, if you want more revenue, you need a bigger engine and again there’s only a small number of ways you can get a bigger engine. Things like more people, better pricing, and packaging will help grow the size of the engine, and therefore grow the capacity of your business at any point in time.

Strategically, you ought to be focusing on one of two things—getting more power from the existing engine or building a bigger engine at the very least. Talking to your business partners or team about which of those as a priority helps overcome a lot of the problems that something as generic as growth can create. Lastly, understand that when you take this engine and put it into a much bigger one, the actual output will add first be a little bit lower and that means that your priority shifts then into getting more power from the new engine. And this is the growth journey that businesses go on from where they are now to where they’ve set out to achieve in their vision. Get more power from the existing engine.

Whatever that target is grow into a bigger engine you get to determine the size of that engine and then power that up before growing again. You can get the steps in that journey clear. The new and your business owners will not only prevent growth from being a dangerous word, but you’ll also actually get to your end destination a whole lot faster.

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