VOL. 127 | NO. 87 | Thursday, May 3, 2012
Harnessing Strategic Business Growth
By Michael Graber & Jocelyn Atkinson
If you’re not growing, you’re dying anonymous. Growth: That Crazy Talk. Call it the entrepreneurial instinct, innovation, business savvy, whatever you want: strategic growth is how business prospers.
While some Mid-South and Memphis-area ventures stand as global luminaries of category-defining growth such as the modern grocery store and overnight delivery, most area businesses cower when facing growth.
Growth is a natural source of power, a wellspring or volcano. Businesses, like nature, live a lifecycle. Organizations are as alive as a person; yet, most businesses do not harness the growth process to gain an advantage.
Rare companies that address growth by a mix of planning and making well-timed, well-orchestrated adaptations to their plan make positive headlines.
In most cases, dynamics change market conditions and businesses retrench. They do more of what no longer works with increased vigor and focus. They react in fear. These actions dig a grave.
More than ever, every business needs to find, discover and implement fresh, rewarding ways to procure and retain business. Remain relevant, demonstrate value and compete with formally unthinkably high levels of service.
At the time when companies need radically rethink their market strategy, they hide behind walls of denial and the sleepy, sentimental practices that worked in the ’70s, ‘80s or ‘90s.
Sadly, we witness this re-enactment at business after business: “Growth. What do you mean? We’re just sitting, waiting for the phone to ring. … We don’t need a plan. … We just trade customers back and forth with our competition, ” and on and on. We get thrown out for crazy talk.
Excuses and justifications, we’ve heard them all. They add up to a deafening wake-up call for the whole business culture of the Mid-South.
Memphis? Do you really want to become just the world’s warehouse? Or, can we retool our business climate and invent new product pipelines and services that create new markets and generate serious returns?
Will the next Abe Plough, Clarence Saunders, Fred Smith, Pitt Hyde, Elvis Presley please stand up?
What will this generation’s visionaries look like? What core markets will they disrupt or create? How will they impact the world and infuse the local economy by being a top employer and recruiter for the area? Perhaps it will grow out of your neighborhood?
Let’s apply this crazy talk to existing companies. What old-line companies will transform their business model and product/service mix to keep growing? What companies will quicken their demise by not changing?
These are crazy times. Listen to the crazy talk.
What keeps you sane: accept the fact that growth is a reality in business. What keeps you inspired is when you see your topline revenue growing because you guided change in your favor. You have a strategy. You adapt. You keep the firm in the present moment, instead of living a tired dream and repeating outmoded practices.
Will the next company ready to grow, stand up. Memphis needs you. The world needs you.
In this column we will explore growth, innovation, and entrepreneurial issues and profile real, Mid-South examples. We want to give voice to strategic growth in the Memphis area. We invite you to help create a thriving business culture. Talk that crazy talk. Dream. Measure. Do.
Jocelyn Atkinson and Michael Graber run the Southern Growth Studio, a strategic growth firm based in Memphis. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.