Growth is the Leader’s Primary Job

I had some household plumbing and HVAC maintenance done. The technicians cleaned the HVAC blower area and installed a surge protector. I believe these are useful maintenance projects but there is nothing to see. I’ll only know they are useful over the long term when nothing bad happens.

I also decided to replace several shut off valves for toilets and to the dishwasher, the benefits of which are not visible. Again, I’ll only know they’re useful because over time nothing floods.

But maintenance is not growth. In household environments, growth is new paint and furnishings that help you enjoy your space more; outdoor landscape that gets you outdoors and is pleasing to visitors; a new addition certainly is growth.

In your company, maintenance keeps the status quo and prevents bad things from happening. It doesn’t add new buyers, new offerings, increased revenue. Without growth you end up like a non-maintained house. It doesn’t fall apart all at once, it slowly degrades over years until you look at it one day and say what happened to my nice house?

How to grow your company

You must commit to growth while doing do maintenance (financials, customer service, marketing to current customers) regularly. If maintenance consumes your resources, you will not create growth.

Just like the homeowner who invests in new paint, a redesigned landscape, and a new deck over a period of years, you don’t have to do all your growth activities at once. Choose one growth outcome semi-annually and focus on it. Choose outcomes that make a noticeable difference. Is 5-10% more revenue enough to make a difference? What about 20-25%? Is your vision for one year or for many years?

Growth Mindset is a Habit

Habits are behaviors that you repeat without deciding each and every time. If you don’t have the habit of pursuing expansive growth, you have to develop it.

Start with something you can do pretty easily, the equivalent of new paint in one room. I recommend a marketing campaign dedicated to increasing business from your current clients. Depending on your business, there are 5-7 specific steps to take to do this. When you create this marketing plan and then implement it no matter what, you’ve created a new growth habit.
You’ll start getting ideas about other growth outcomes, and you’ll move onto them one at a time. Pretty soon you’ve got a lot more revenue and the company owns a growth habit.

A well-established CPA company founder typically billed 40, 50 or 60 hours per week, just like his staff CPAs did. When his first child started participating in activities that he wanted to support, he felt torn between his child and the money he contributed to the firm through billable hours.

With my help, he offered this longest time clients a different type of service. He would meet all of their needs throughout the year for one fixed fee. The offering would go far beyond the typical taxes and audits. No longer would he feel he was cheating the company out of revenue when he watched his son play soccer.

When we started working together this comprehensive services offerings was limited only to his work. It was so popular with the first set of clients that he started offering similar arrangements to others and transitioned more CPAs similar client work. Three years later almost all of the firm’s work is offered this way. The clients are happier than ever and revenue is growing.

Maintenance is necessary but it is not growth. What are you doing to grow? It’s never to late—or too soon—to set your sights on growth and get started.

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