Sustainable Growth: Myth, Legend or Luck

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning,” said Benjamin Franklin more than 200 years ago. The thought is as true today as it was at the very beginning of our country. Sustainable growth, the realistic growth of a company over time, is often a very challenging feat. Grow too quickly and a company can out-pace its ability to fund the rapid progress. Move too slowly and stagnation can threaten the ongoing viability of an organization in an aggressive and dynamic marketplace where rapidly changing economic and consumer trends prevail.

Discovering a successful formula can be elusive. Such legends of business and industry like; IBM, Apple and HP have their share of lessons learned even though they often occupy the very pinnacle of the successful list. Each share similar moments of flat-out failure and misstep, straying aimlessly from a well formed strategy for growth in order to achieve unrealistic goals of expansion. “Companies that grow for the sake of growth or that expand into areas outside their core business strategy often stumble. On the other hand, companies that build scale for the benefit of their customers and shareholders more often succeed over time.” says Jamie Dimon, President, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

The emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and other notable technology companies challenged traditional thought processes associated with launching and growing a business. Their survival and rise to profitability seemed almost mythical. With seemingly little initial attention to any predetermined path to profitability in those beginning years, their existence was predicted to be short lived as monetization of any product or service is the critical element to sustainability in any market.

While there is a benefit to being at the right place with the right product and services at the optimal time, often considered luck, it is often not a valid strategy for sustainable growth. Paying acute attention to the trends in customer expectations and the ever changing competitive environment presents unique challenges to businesses. As we face the possibility of an economic downturn in the next 5 years, it is of critical importance to revisit your growth strategy or develop one.

Strategy isn’t the big idea, but rather a systematic approach on how to meet your goals and objectives. It identifies the important and often overlooked elements necessary to achieve success. Hiring the right people, establishing consistent and efficient processes focused on attainable benchmarks are all essential to achieving successful growth. The right strategic partner can give you the insights and solutions that will help you reach your goals and objective.  An honest, outside perspective can prove beneficial to testing the viability of the strategy. Be wary of those consultants who “tell you what you want to hear” and focus on identifying the partner that will “tell you what you need to hear.”

How do you characterize your business’s approach to sustainable growth; myth, legend or luck?