Before you can determine where you want to go as a company, you have to have an understanding of where your business stands today. Who exactly are you as a company? This is easier said than done. Over time, even founders of companies can lose sight of their strategic vision and get caught up in the daily grind of keeping a company in business.
While you may be tempted to skip this step, don’t! True self-knowledge is rare, and introspection provides a rational foundation for making growth decisions. It is important for you as leaders to take a step back and view your business with fresh eyes. The information gained during this self-examination will prove invaluable as you go about determining the next steps for growing your company.
There are a few things to think about to help you better understand your own business.
- Vision – What is your dream? If you had no obstacles, what would your company look like? Write this down and communicate this with the rest of your team so everyone is aligned around the same goals. Clearly articulating where you want to go is the foundation for a successful strategic growth plan.
- Culture – Culture can be anything from your dress code, to office hours, to who buys the coffee in the break room, to how decisions are made. Really understanding culture can be difficult because it is somewhat subjective. One useful tool is the Cultural Assessment Tool where you examine how your company operates in a few key areas. For example, do you make decisions quickly or slowly? Is performance measured often or sporadically? Is communication fast or slow? It’s best to get input from others in your organization – the insights may be enlightening. We often find that not everyone sees eye-to-eye on all aspects of the company. When assessing your own culture, your job is to understand what is actually there – not paint a picture of how you wish your company was.
- Core competency – What are you really good at? Take a look at which functional areas – operations, marketing, sales, and management – are strongest and which are weakest. Compare yourself to your nearest competitor and see how you stack up. Why do clients come to you? And why do potential clients go to your competitor? This evaluation will also help you better understand your weaknesses and pain points.
- Risk tolerance – Some companies have a high risk tolerance, while others have a low risk tolerance. Neither is correct or incorrect, but your risk tolerance does impact how you make decisions and what growth strategies you are willing to undertake.
Think about your company’s vision or dream, culture, core competency, weaknesses, pain points and risk tolerance. Your company’s growth strategy will vary widely depending on the answer to those key points. Self-examination does not come naturally to most of us but, do take the time to focus on this discipline.
In the next post we will discuss the difference between a reactive and proactive approach and how to be proactive about your company’s growth.
This post is part of a series exploring 5 Ways to Rethink Your Approach to Strategic Growth. Read part 1 here.