Practice “Double It” Thinking to Grow Your Business
By Bruce D. Johnson
If you want to grow your business or organization significantly faster you have to learn to think differently.
In other words, if you grew at 7.7% last year, chances are you’ll grow at the same rate or lower, unless something significantly changes. This is one of the reasons why I love Nicholas Negroponte’s line,
“Incrementalism is innovation’s greatest enemy.”
Small incremental changes rarely lead to any significant breakthroughs. Doing more of the same, “Just a little bit better,” rarely sets the world on fire. So, how do you get out of this rut?
Well, one way is to come up with a mental construct that forces you to think differently-at a much higher level. And one of those constructs is to practice what I like to call, “The Double It Game.”
There are a number of different ways to play this game. For example,
1. Let’s say you want to grow by 20% this year. Instead of thinking about how to grow by 20%, “Double It” and figure out how to grow by 40%.
2. Or let’s say you’re a $3M company. Instead of planning for 20% growth this year, why not double your annual revenue and ask the question, “What if we were a $6M company?”
3. Or, let’s say your sales reps are closing 50 deals a month. Instead of thinking, “How can we get them to close 60 deals a month?” why not “Double It” and ask, “How can we help them get to 100 sales per month?”
You can play the “Double It” game with a whole variety of different areas in your business. However, the point of this exercise isn’t to suggest that your budget or sale per rep or annual revenues should be double.
In fact, it’s usually wiser to be a little conservative on budget numbers and projections. The point of the exercise is to force you to think differently-and in the process discover some ideas that might radically accelerate the growth of your business.
For example, when you play this Double It game, chances are you’ll discover things like:
As a leader, your job will have to change and you’ll probably need to delegate out a lot more
You’ll probably need to invest more in staff training
You’ll probably force yourself to realize there are some staff you need to let go of now
You probably have some staff whom you’ll need to transition out over the next year
You’ll need to recruit some better talent (and spend more time working on your virtual bench)
Your business model may need to change (you may even discover you’re in the wrong business to scale that quickly)
Your sales process will need to change
You’ll need to add some new product and service lines (while killing others)
You’ll probably need to invest more in R&D (or acquisitions)
You’ll need to open up some new markets (and bring in new people who can do that)
You’ll probably need to either store some cash or acquire some new capital in order to expand faster
At twice your size or at twice your growth rate, almost everything has to change. Management guru Peter Drucker used to say that every time an organization grows by 45%, it has to change its organizational structure. At a Double It rate, that means every year, everything will probably have to change. So, what would that look like? That is the heart of the “Double It” question.
So what would your business (or organization) look like if it were twice as large at the end of this year (as it is in the beginning)?
What would be different about you and your role? Your staff? Your management? Your operations?Your marketing and sales? Your cash flow? Etc.
Sounds like a fun question to ponder, doesn’t it? It is! So, go to it. Your future awaits!
Importantly, on a related note, in order to grow your business, you need to consider what you must STOP doing.
You see, the natural tendency for most owners and CEOs of SMBs [small and medium-sized businesses], who want to grow their businesses (or organizations) is to keep adding more and more to their plates. Every new book or conference or webinar suggests a new tactic that can “help grow your business,” so they keep adding. Unfortunately that strategy simply makes most of us overwhelmed, too busy, unfocused and keeps us from doing the things we ought to be doing to actually grow our businesses.
For example, earlier this week, I was coaching a CEO who got embroiled in an internal issue that was sucking time away from him. In the early days of his business, this was the kind of issue he would have needed to handle. But at this stage, he shouldn’t have been involved in this issue at all. So, I simply said, as he was recounting his past few days, “Who should have been dealing with this?”
He got the point. It wasn’t that he was doing something bad. It was that he was still thinking like the CEO of a smaller company-and still doing some of the things he used to do-even though his company had grown beyond him needing to do them.
The reality is that every leader faces the same dilemma. If you’re doing your job well, your business or organization should be growing. If it’s growing, more and more will land on your plate-unless you’re extremely diligent and intentional about getting as much as possible off your plate.
One of my favorite sayings is, “You have to subtract before you add.” To simply keep adding more and more to your plate (or to your organization’s) without subtracting somewhere first is a recipe for disaster.
So, here’s what I’d recommend. Take a look at your last few weeks’ to do’s (or calendars).
1. What did you do that someone else could have done at 80% (or more) of your capabilities?
2. What meetings did you attend that you really shouldn’t attend any more?
3. What people did you take calls from or meet with that you shouldn’t any more?
4. Which emails did you respond to that someone else should have handled?
5. What items do you know you should delegate to someone else that you keep doing (just because you like doing them)?
Be ruthless. Nothing changes until something changes!
If you want to lead a larger business (or organization), you have to give up more and more of the things you used to do and focus more and more on just a few key items that can deliver significant growth gains.
So, what do you need to stop doing?
Bruce D. Johnson is the author of Breaking Through Plateaus and the President of Wired to Grow. He helps owners, entrepreneurs and service professionals grow their businesses faster with less stress and more predictability. To learn more about Bruce, visit www.WiredToGrow.com.