Boriana Valentinova

People in a business meeting

Don’t grow but stay competitive

We judge success by measuring growth and define business growth in terms of money. Everything translates into that: revenues, market share, innovation, investment, and spending. However, success is no longer only about growth and wealth in our ever-changing societies. Many choose not to grow but stay competitive.

So, we increasingly include free time, physical and mental health, and learning experiences among our priorities in life. And that often brings the dilemma of whether to go the extra mile, push boundaries and scale businesses or keep them operating and functioning on a smaller scale. Business growth implies effort, time and stress, bringing future benefits. It’s just the way it is.

If you want free time, don’t go for scaling your business, entering new markets, or partnering with the competition. Instead, choose to slow down; determine what is best for you now. You are lucky to have the luxury to choose. So don’t grow, but do the necessary to stay competitive. If you don’t, your modern way of measuring success will run into a mirage: competitors will push you out of business. It’s just the way it is:-).

Consider these strategies to establish a robust governance model in your business and keep it running without stress and more quality time.

Simplify, standardise and automate processes

Whether you are a manufacturing or service business, simplify the workflow. Use the 7 areas of waste Lean method to identify weak points and bottlenecks in your processes. Eliminate rework, overprocessing, overproduction, and defects. Then establish new leaner processes, standardise steps, and automate the transactional ones with IT systems that are easy to use and scalable. Consider SaaS models. Finally, write the SOP to be followed by everyone in your company. 

Install KPIs and management by objectives

Change your management approach from micromanagement to management by objectives. First, make sure your team is comfortable working in such a way. If not, select new managers with the right mindset – it is a must. Next, establish clear goals and objectives you expect to be achieved. Then, back up that initiative with an organisational structure, roles and responsibilities, a realistic span of control and escalations paths. Finally, define the KPIs and metrics for all levels (management and operations) and measure performance by numbers, not guts, feelings or rumours. Everyone in your organisation should know what is expected from them and how you will measure deliverables. 

Create a reliable and continuous feedback channel with your customers

Even if you choose not to grow your business, you must maintain your current competitive offering so customers remain loyal. Many small businesses make the mistake of automating customer service with bots, chats and emailing. These strategies work great for big companies with segmented customer targets and structured departments. However, smaller business customers expect more personal treatment (Especially in B2B). Provide two-way communication channels like phone lines and prompt replies to emails 24×7. And continuously ask for feedback on product/service features, pricing, and recommendations.

Put in place a Continous Improvement team to stay competitive

After asking for feedback, one of the worst mistakes you can make with your customer is not doing anything about it. So, make sure you have a process and a team to react to the market response and adjust whatever the customer asks you to change. It could be from product features to after-sales backup. Put together a continuous improvement team with critical SMEs from your business; make it multifunctional. The unit can follow the Kaizen or Agile improvement methods with clear goals and objectives to achieve, and the team leader should report directly to you. 

What does it take to establish such a governance model? It depends on the size of your business. For a company, up to 100 employees can take 3 weeks to set up the basics and additional time if you have to implement It systems. For a more prominent company, 250-500 employees would take at least 3 months. Check my service packs here.

But whatever time it takes, it is time and money well invested. Moreover, it will help you set up a reliable, competitive and self-efficient business that can function autonomously. So don’t grow if you choose not to, but stay competitive.