In Michael Treacy’s “Double-Digit Growth: How Great Companies Achieve It – No Matter What,” he diagnoses a huge problem with this summation: “The truth is that corporate America has a growth problem — a broad, profound, systemic problem that worsens quarter by quarter because of constant denial.”
When is the last time you asked, “Am I in denial about what’s going on with my company?” Have you ever wondered what causes a no-growth disease to spread over a perfectly healthy company in the first place? I have. So has Treacy. “Actually, the degeneration of a major company is more often a case of self-destruction than of being lapped by a newer business model. Most decaying enterprises are brought down by their own managers, yoked to wishful thinking and dumb tactics that fail to deliver growth,” says Treacy. Pathetic but true.
So whether you run a small business or a Fortune 500 company — in good times or bad — growth is always possible, provided you take some precise actions. But before we move on, get over wishful thinking and the dumb tactic routine! Think company strategy on steroids. Are you ready? Because double-digit growth is your decision! Let’s examine the five actions, or disciplines, that Treacy talks about in his book.
1. Hold on to your hats — I mean customers! If you can’t do that, you are in denial! “One of the easiest ways to improve growth is to slow the loss of your existing customers,” says Treacy. Losing customers left and right? Then figure out why and change course.
2. Get traction with your market share. Poaching your competitor’s customers is no easy feat. “This is the toughest, nastiest way to grow because it requires tearing customers away from a competitor,” proclaims Treacy. All companies must establish a way to either grab market share organically or acquire it with a well thought-out initiative. Go do it.
3. Leverage market position. Treacy refers to it as exploiting market position rather than leveraging it, but with the advent of social media and networking platforms, it’s more about leveraging what you have right in front of you to get the biggest bang for your buck. Treacy declares, “Show up where growth is going to happen to achieve the easiest growth.” Still not on Twitter? According to Treacy’s theory, you’re blowing it.
4. Move into new markets. Can you build or acquire additional capabilities on an as-needed basis? These new markets can be adjacent, emerging or overseas, but only “if you have practical and immediate advantages there,” adds Treacy. Have you thought about going global? What’s stopping you? Somebody in another country is probably yearning for your product or service because they need it.
5. Commission new lines of business. When opportunity strikes and it’s unrelated to your core business, “you need the skills of an investor more than those of a manager,” Treacy emphasizes. Your top marketing manager isn’t going to know whether the acquisition of ABC Company that’s up for sale is a good fit for your company, but a competent CFO or independent investment banker will.
Regardless of the economic environment, growth is possible. You may be practicing only a few of the above disciplines to keep your business strong and on the path toward double-digit growth. But by carrying out all five, you are guaranteed to pull ahead of the pack.
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About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Delaney at firstname.lastname@example.org.