Dear Aunty B,
We have been growing fast for seven years and in the last few months our growth has slowed. It is causing quite a bit of tension and we can’t agree on what we should do as we are so used to expanding. A few of us want to cut costs and others want to chase this new idea that could turn out to be just a distraction.
The last product we launched was a bit of a flop, which has dented our confidence. I feel like we are chasing our tails! Don’t tell us to have a strategy session as we have had several and no one has any ideas and we keep going over the same old territory.
L, Longreach, Qld
Calm down. It is impossible for companies to keep growing fast, so what you are experiencing is normal. The mistake you are making is to look for solutions internally. Sometimes companies dry up. The people are tired and need refreshing.
The best entrepreneurs in this situation raise their heads up from their computer, stand up and walk out of the office. This is when you get on a plane and visit distributors and clients here and overseas.
You need to go to trade fairs and see what is happening in your industry. Spy on your competitors. What are the new upstarts in your industry doing that you can adapt and improve on?
How about approaching the most respected person in your industry and asking them to join your advisory board? If they are too busy, just take them for lunch. And read! Read everything every day about demographic trends, changing government regulations and policies (tune in right now to the election because there are going to be lots of changes).
Ask: how is society changing? What are the new trends? How is my industry changing?
What are the products my customers are going to buy in the future?
If the new idea that you refer to as a distraction stacks up, develop it. But it sounds like more strategic thinking is needed here.
As for your staff, they sound worn out. Make sure they have the resources they need to do their job. Some more training may be useful. I agree that internal strategy sessions may be a waste of time, but gathering ideas externally from people – whether competitors, an advisory board or just lunch with a like minded group of entrepreneurs from other industries – is the way to go.
Cheers, Your Aunty B