Growth Priorities for 2011 Friday, December 17 2010 Charlie Alter Somehow 2010 has managed to slip by and we are on the cusp of 2011. So now is the time to reflect on how your business performed this year and to identify the top priorities for 2011, and I would argue that your first list of priorities should focus on ways to profitably grow.Why focus on growth? The answers are many, from my perspective, but here are a few to ponder:
If your business is not growing, it’s in decline
Growth generates energy and enthusiasm
Profitable Growth is the holy grail for any business, either embrace it or begin thinking about an exit strategy and let someone else take the lead
Growth attracts the best talent
Growth & Innovation are two legs on the stool for sustaining your business now and in the future
Here are few suggestions to get the engine running to identify your business’s Growth Priorities for 2011Review Your Company’s 2010 PerformanceThe first step in developing a Growth Plan for 2011 and beyond is to honestly evaluate your business’s current performance versus the plan that was developed for 2010, assuming there was one. Even if your plan was only a loose one and you have no hard goals, objectives and targets identified, you still had expectations for the year. So sit back and review your performance for 2010 by asking the following questions:
Have we achieved our sales and profitability targets?
What have been the biggest successes with customers? What about the biggest disappointments?
Which customers are your most profitable ones?
Which customers do you match best with in terms of culture and people?
How have our best customers’ needs and desires changed?
What are the most important trends in your industry or the markets your company serves?
How do these trends create immediate opportunities to grow?
What are the barriers your company has that limit your ability to capitalize on these growth opportunities?
If sales and margins are flat, what are you doing to fix these problems in 2011?
Thinking beyond 2010, what do we hope to achieve in 2011 and beyond?
What is the long-term Vision for the company, perhaps 10 years from now?
What are your most important Growth Priorities for the business in 2011?
Identify Three Growth Priorities for 2011Why three? Simply put, to keep everyone focused on your number one Growth Priorities, it’s really necessary to boil them down to the short list of actions that must be taken and the results that must be achieved. Look at the following list to spur thinking, and then identify what are your most immediate Growth Priorities are for 2011? Make a list, then rank the list and pick your top priorities:
Move up the food chain in the industries and markets you serve so your business can book larger contracts with larger customers. This will necessitate researching and understanding these industries and markets better than you know them now, and understanding the changing needs of key customers you currently serve or hope to serve in the future. It’s also necessary to look beyond your company’s current state at markets and customers that are growing and to improve your product and market mix.
Evaluate and improve marketing and sales operations. 2011 may be the time to rebalance your marketing and sales budgets and to refocus on what needs to occur to achieve your Growth Priorities.
Invest in Innovation. Now’s the time to take innovation seriously and make sure all of your key staff understand that it is the engine that drives profitable growth. Evaluate and improve your innovation process to generate more ideas and opportunities to grow in 2011. Take a hard look at the changing needs of your customers and the trends in the markets your company serves, and use this intelligence to find Disruptive Innovation opportunities, particularly ones that add new value at a lower cost and disrupt your competitors.
Streamline and simplify. Focus on the three most important Growth Priorities you and your team can identify and get them done, then look for the next three. Make sure everyone is focused on achieving these priories, even if it means stopping doing other things. The KISS principle should be in effect.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, Ohio. He specializes in Growth Strategy, Innovation and Coaching and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org visit http://bentbrookadvisors.com/ for more information on his business advisory practice.