Every business depends on growth to succeed, which is why CEOs and business owners focus so much of their daily efforts on how best to grow their enterprise.
But there’s also the risk of too much growth.
Whether you define growth as making key investments, identifying and penetrating your core customer base, or scaling operations to see a profit, “growth is also about slowing down,” say Karl Stark and Bill Stewart, contributors to Inc. If your business experiences too much growth or it grows by acquiring the wrong type of customers, the result can be failure—just as surely as if there was no growth at all.
Stark and Stewart are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale Strategic Partners, a Chicago-based advisory firm that focuses on growing companies. When strategizing about growth for your business, they suggest keeping these factors in mind.
In the 21st century, what’s more important for your employees—clocking work hours or achieving goals? Is the traditional nine to five, 40-hour work week still the best structure for your workforce or is it a woefully outmoded approach to employee productivity?
Everyone knows the nature of work is changing, but many companies cling to the traditional work week model, with diminishing results. According to Ilya Pozin, founder of Ciplex and a frequent contributor to Inc., Forbes and LinkedIn, adhering to this inflexible approach without understanding its effects on employees ensures an erosion of trust.
“Nothing kills productivity quite like an environment where employees feel forced to work,” Pozin contends. Instead, employees should want to get work done, both to benefit the company and because they enjoy what they’re doing. Give employees the opportunity to come and leave at will, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a spike in their productivity and output.
Pozin offers four reasons to put an end to structured work hours.
Teaming up with the competition? It sounds counter-intuitive, since by definition any customer your competitor gains supposedly mans a corresponding loss of revenue for you. Certainly this is an accepted truth in the “old school” business model.
But times are changing, says Erin Schwartz, a guest blogger on thoughtLEADERS LLC. In the modern business world, there are ways of working with the competition that can “actually enhance your business.”
What are the possible benefits of cooperating instead of competing?
Of all the things that contribute to success in life and business, one fact can’t be denied. Genuinely successful people achieve their goals because they have built extraordinary relationships.
“Real success is impossible unless you treat other people with kindness, regard, and respect,” says Jeff Haden, a contributor to Inc. People who build great relationships exhibit certain traits which draw others to them and create a lasting bond of mutual trust and respect. Here are eight such traits Haden describes:
In 2011, the Academy Award for best documentary feature went to “Undefeated,” which follows coach Bill Courtney and the Manassas Tigers high school football team. Not long ago, Bryan Burkhart, a regular contributor to The New York Times, felt so inspired by this compelling film, he contacted Courtney to learn more about his philosophy on building and leading a team.
A little background first: Up to 2003, the Manassas Tigers held a less-than-impressive record of 5 wins and 95 losses. Six years later, it made its first playoff appearance in team history. The team was led by a successful entrepreneur, the founder of Classic American Hardwoods, which Courtney started out of his living room in 2001. His small business anticipates sales of roughly $40 million this year.
So what does a hard-driving entrepreneur and the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary have to tell us about leadership?
Being a leader is challenging in the best of times. Leaders are only as good as the information they receive (which is rarely complete or conveyed in a timely manner) and the resources they can marshal (usually, it seems, never enough). In the midst of execution, communications with the team can sometimes be misleading, imprecise, and just plain wrong.
Given all that, says Les McKeown, a contributor to Inc., why do so many leaders compound the difficulty “simply by getting in their own way?” It happens when leaders add “self-imposed—albeit unconscious—constraints on their ability to lead well,” he adds.
According to McKeown, a bestselling author and CEO of Predictable Success, three scenarios in particular occur with such frequency we should look more closely at how we sabotage our own best efforts.
Big projects can be a pain, and sometimes they keep us up at night. We delay starting them, or find other tasks that need to be done first. Why? Maybe we’re intimidated by the amount of time required to finish these projects, don’t know where to start, or are struggling to get a clear picture of what needs to be done. “Few things are as daunting as a blank page, a report you need to write, or a pitch you need to create. It’s all too easy to find yourself staring at the large white window on your computer screen. Pausing to check your email. And staring some more,” says Minda Zetlin, contributor to Inc.
However, it’s a great feeling to finish a large project, and look back at what you’ve accomplished.
Since Zetlin is a writer, she finds herself facing a blank page on a regular basis. She’s developed some effective ways to get past the panic, and finish a daunting project.
Negotiating is crucial to professional advancement. We negotiate daily; with colleagues, clients, managers, and vendors. Everything is negotiable – your salary, a better price, a job change. Negotiating is a valuable skill leaders need to survive in today’s business world: To go after what you want, to create options where there previously weren’t any, and to defend what is yours and what you need.
“If you’re not prepared to negotiate for your interests, rest assured others will for theirs, and you’ll get played like a fiddle,” says Denis Wilson, contributor to Fast Company.
However, if you are unfamiliar with negotiating, it can be scary. “Life, then, is a negotiation–and that doesn’t even have to be this gross, cynical thing. Let’s admit it: We’re constantly making deals, even with ourselves,” says Drake Baer in a recent article in Fast Company.
Baer shares some tips from Alice Boyes of Psychology Today on how to negotiate, even if the thought of it scares you.
Meetings are a part of life for many leaders. Some hate them, some view them as a waste of time, and others simply walk away unsure of what that last 40 minutes was even about.
There are numerous ways to improve meetings, from communicating what will be discussed to setting a time limit, but in the end, they should always be useful for your team.
Mary Jo Asmus, contributor to SmartBlog on Leadership, poses an interesting take on meetings. She suggests you use them to build relationships that make your workplace thrive.
Meetings don’t have to be boring. They can be for making a decision or setting a course of action, but they are also excellent exercises in collaboration, discussion, and feedback. Like Asmus says, they are a great place to build relationships among your team members. Employees who forge good relationships and work well together are more productive and have a better attitude.
“What we really need is to have meetings that allow relationships to deepen, where participants help each other to grow and succeed together,” says Asmus. “In addition to actionable items, a good meeting could increase trust among the participants, thereby promoting deeper relationships and more post-meeting connections and engagement.”
She offers some ideas to consider for better meetings.