According to a recent study from the National Center for the Middle Market and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, "Nearly four out of 10 middle market executives say that a lack of talent constrains their company’s ability to grow. A larger number—44%—say that a lack of candidates with the right skills makes it difficult to recruit.” Even if you have the right growth strategy in place and are using a recruitment method like Topgrading, the study suggests that middle market companies have some unique challenges finding the right people.
Rhythm Blog | Strategies for Growth
by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team
Your Brand Promise is the promise you’re making to your customers that both really matters to them and differentiates you from your competition. It should help you win more of the right customers by helping you focus on how you sell your product/service to your Core Customer.
What makes a Brand Promise “good” is not only its appeal to your Core Customer and its ability to help you close sales with them, but also your ability to consistently deliver on that promise.
Build yourself a great Brand Promise.
What's a Brand Promise? It is what you promise to deliver to your customer. It is more than a marketing tag line or a catchy one-liner. Done right, it will help you attract the right customers, increase your win ratio, and retain happy customers as you deliver on what you promise.
Storytelling may seem like an old-fashioned tool, today — and it is. That’s exactly what makes it so powerful. Life happens in the narratives we tell one another. A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul. - Harrison Monarth, Harvard Business Review
Storytelling is an artform, but don’t be tempted to think of it as “soft stuff” that doesn’t matter. According to an article in Forbes, storytelling is "a business competency that drives emotional engagement and
CEOs frequently ask me why their corporate strategies for the year falter or just don’t happen. “It’s like no one is listening to me,” said one CEO. He and his leadership team had a great two-day Annual Planning session to do the Strategic Thinking needed for the upcoming year. While their strategy was very good, what was lacking was a corporate culture designed for success in carrying out their expressed strategy. The more and more I work with organizations, the more I’ve come to see that leadership is a strategy. All in all, how you lead people matters.
How effective are your continuous improvement efforts?
I focus a lot of my attention on top-line growth these days, but that by no means undermines the importance of improving what you do. I love cars of all types, especially sports oriented cars and exotic cars, but there is one automaker who is the king of continuous improvement and you probably guessed who it is - Toyota, of course. I have owned many of their autos and currently, have two in the stable along with a little something German. (You do have to infuse a little fun into things, right?) Toyota has created the strongest culture of continuous improvement on the planet. They continue to do what they do better every day, and every employee in the organization owns it. I like to tell the story of visiting their plant in Kentucky several years ago and as we gathered in the lobby to prepare for our tour, the person coordinating us asked us to form two lines and arrange ourselves alphabetically so that she could process us efficiently. I had to smile as these guys get continuous improvement and what most of us call Lean practices today.
The problem with revenue-generating strategies, or Winning Moves, is that you don’t feel you need to work on them when things are going great. You are too busy working in the business and harvesting sales from existing Winning Moves. Then the day comes and BAM! Your current winning strategies begin to slow down. Growth slows. But just like the characters in Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese, we are slow to go out and innovate new Winning Moves. Why is it so hard?
Here are the usual suspects that cause us to delay working on new Winning Moves:
I recently re-read the HBR article entitled "Building Your Company's Vision" by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, and I was struck by the great examples they gave to illustrate different types of Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). If you are struggling to come up with a BHAG for the first time, these examples might help you get started. These may also be helpful if you are working with your team to reset after accomplishing your 10-25 year visionary goal. Don't let your team fall into the trap of complacency after reaching the mountaintop of one BHAG; celebrate your success, and then reset. Having a long term, visionary goal that aligns your team and gets everyone excited is the only way your company will continue to grow with purpose, reaching peak after peak of success.
At each business stage, leaders face new challenges and complexity. The Herculean effort to launch and grow a business to $1m revenue is different for CEOs, entrepreneurs, founders, key staff members, and investors than when operating at $5m. It follows that the level of challenge and complexity at $250m is different than at $500m. At each stage, you’ll experience a breakdown in the systems and processes that allowed you to more easily make it to this point – to put it simply, what worked to get you here won’t work to get you there.
Along the way, you accumulated multiple systems, developed workarounds, and put a few band-aids on any process that became strained with growth. At each stage of your business, you’ll experience stress on previous systems and processes. Whatever you did last year won’t get you to your next year plan, your 3-5 year targets, or your longer-term BHAG without a whole lot of sweat – and likely, not at all. To grow to the next level, you have to (once again) streamline your systems, processes, and reassess your talent. You cannot rely on memory, paper, or the systems that you used earlier in your career or business.
I’ve observed eight specific habits exhibited by successful leaders and CEOs as measured by consistent revenue and profit growth (fueling greater community impact), and each can be learned by anyone. Develop the following habits and you’ll be on your way to continued growth.