Business Productivity

If you’re not growing you’re dying: a lesson for life and business

- June 13, 2017 3 MIN READ

If you’re not growing you’re dying is a warning for all business owners, and it relates to growing your skills as much as your revenue.

The concept of continued business growth means different things to different people. For me it’s not about your business constantly getting bigger, in fact, it’s often the exact opposite. Growth for soloists is much more about developing new skills while growing with your clients and as a person.

Have you ever been in the situation where you have lost a client because they had outgrown either your capacity or your capability? It’s not a nice feeling and it’s normally veiled in a range of other reasons for them choosing to use another supplier. But if you’re honest they have simply outgrown you and needed to move on.

Likewise, you’ve probably had a supplier that you’ve outgrown. You’ve used them for some time, but they aren’t really coming to you with new ideas, or pushing you to do what you do better. We get a false sense of comfort using them, but at what cost? Then when we do change, we realise how much more we could have been doing for our clients all along. And that’s a concern.

So how do we need to grow? I remember having a situation a few years back where I had a client growing at an incredible rate – and I mean incredible. It went from me looking after them to having four full time staff on their project within a year. I didn’t want to grow in size too much but I also didn’t want to lose this account.

Of course there were plenty of other business trying to steal the work as well, so keeping the account became a challenge. We had a great relationship, but I could tell intuitively that if we didn’t stay at the top of our game, delivering beyond their expectations, staying on top of technology and communication, they’d drop us in a heartbeat.

This meant my role became about growing in ways that mattered to the client just as much (if not more) than delivering the work. How did I do this?

I invested heavily in the newest technology and paid people to teach us how to use it. As a result we were always way ahead of our big client in terms of tech.

I invested in training for my team and myself – this was both skill development and personal development. Once again, this meant our skills were cutting edge and we were always able to bring what we’d learned to our big client, which impressed them considerably.

I invested in the relationship. I made a point of being involved in planning meetings, either as a facilitator at no cost for the client, or as a supplier. I asked questions regarding budgets 12 months in advance and I became a valued part of the team on various levels.

All of the above helped my business retain this client for a long time. It was a very lucrative account, but it also retrained me. All of this investment didn’t just work with that one client, it worked with all of my clients and has worked ever since, because I kept doing it.

The key to long-term survival in business is the term CANI, constant and never ending improvement. It’s not a new concept, but it’s a very powerful one.

It made me better and it made my business better.

We’ve all heard about the danger of complacency, getting caught up in our comfort zone and not growing, but are we really doing anything about it? It’s easy to talk about it, but what is your actual plan to avoid this happening? How much will you invest in yourself to avoid it?

If you’re not growing you’re dying is a warning for all business owners, and it relates to growing your skills as much as your revenue.