Once upon a time, you could start a business, scale it till it was profitable, and then keep it running at that size for years. Those days are gone. As things stand in 2023, if you aren’t growing your business, you are stagnating.
Stagnation is dangerous.
As soon as you stop making progress, you start going backwards. And it’s a slippery slope. Sales start to fall, customer confidence erodes, morale drops, and rivals begin nipping at your heels.
I mentor a few businesses at the moment and had to warn one founder that their company was beginning to stagnate. The cause? A lack of focus.
In my experience, that is always the primary culprit. If you don’t maintain a laser focus on your customer, keep honing your offering, and investing in product and people, you are likely to experience stagnation.
In this case, the founder was getting distracted by appearing at too many events. They felt they were helping to build up the brand, but they were letting their ego take charge. Trying to maintain a public persona on LinkedIn or X is a full-time job in itself. They should have been spending that time working on their business, not their image.
At BigChange, we never stop moving forward. We have short-term strategies like our investments into sales and marketing, and long-term plays, like our product development pipeline, training programmes, and our customer success department, which proactively looks for ways to make our users more efficient.
However, stagnation also happens when you, as a business, fail to prioritise the right activities. So, we have also learned to adapt and compromise.
Everything we do to promote growth has to be scalable – if not, we shelve the idea and move on. If it is, we throw everything we have at it.
Take Project Transform, which is a major digital transformation project happening right now at BigChange. We are future-proofing our technology platform, laying the foundations for the next decade. Without strategies like this, which allow businesses to scale and succeed over the coming years, stagnation is a major risk.
We also listen to our customers. I mean, really listen. We have taken a customer roadshow around the UK to find out what users love and what they want more of in future. There’s one happening in Brentford Stadium today. Without that direct interaction with customers, it is so easy to lose touch and develop products and features that lack real-world cut through.
It’s important to look at all the metrics in your business and ensure that you’re not stalling anywhere. Are you still hiring? Are you improving the Competence, Capabilities and Capacity of the people in your team? Are you bringing out new products and services, or improving the ones you already have? Or are you cutting costs in the wrong places, and affecting business performance?
The macro economy is tough out there. Inflation is still above 4% and political instability is a major drag on confidence. This is why the lifestyle business is finished. If you’re going to run a company, you must avoid stagnation at all costs - go for growth.