In business, when we speak of growth, we typically think in terms of quantifiable increases in sales and revenue, market share and stock prices.
But what do you do when the numbers just aren’t there? What happens when your ability to externally grow your business is severely compromised by crippling market conditions?
Many companies rightfully go into survival mode. They drastically cut costs and look for immediate work to stop the bleeding or, better, maintain the status quo.
But even if you can’t grow your business just now, you can certainly grow your organization. And that can be just as important as you prepare for the future.
Here are five solid areas you should address:
n The mission statement: If you don’t already have a mission statement, create one. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate, it just has to be sincere and real.
If one already exists, take the time to evaluate it. Be sure it reflects what your business is really about. Successfully growing your business means staying true to who you are as an organization. The mission statement will help you define that and help you communicate it internally and externally.
n Define your organizational values and state your purpose: Research shows that organizations with clearly defined core values and a definite purpose outperform comparable companies in their markets by substantial margins.
No organization should have more than four or five core values. As James Collins and Jerry Porras explain in their book, “Built To Last,” there’s a difference between a core value and a current strategy. If a value can last a lifetime, then it’s core, otherwise it’s a current strategy. Likewise, the purpose must define why the organization exists beyond profit. This may sound basic, but it’s critical to growing the organization, and there’s no better time than the present to do it.
n Prepare your strategic five-year plan: While looking for immediate work is obviously your No. 1 priority, begin strategizing your business growth over the next five years by analyzing potential growth markets and the resources you’ll need to penetrate those markets. The planning process is critical to growing the organization because it maps out the course for future growth and helps you prepare internally for that growth.
n The organizational chart: If you’re like most business owners, you’ve probably been forced to downsize your organization. This is the perfect time to create a new and improved organizational chart and begin your “top-grading” plan. That way, when you’re ready to start hiring again, you’ll bring in only the best people for the job.
n Evaluate standard operating procedures: Sometimes the nicest thing I can say about “procedures” is that they are a necessary evil. We obviously cannot function without them, but every once in a while it’s important to revisit our standard operating procedures and make the necessary improvements, lest we become slaves to them.
The last thing you want to hear from your team is, “That’s how we’ve always done it.” Often, slight procedural changes can result in monumental organizational growth because we effectively move the entire organization out of its comfort zone and into a mindset that allows it to start growing again.
Here’s a final thought on organizational growth: Though our bodies stop growing when we’re in our late teens and early twenties, our mind, our personality and our consciousness continue to grow and develop. The same is true of our organizations -- no matter how bad the economy might be.
Manny García-Tuñón, executive vice president of Lemartec, a family-owned international design-build firm headquartered in Miami, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.