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The Simplest Secret To Business Growth

Everyone wants to know the one thing they can do to get things going, the magic pill they can take, the one bit or advice from a guru that will turn the ship around. (How’s that for some clichés?) Truth is, business is mostly a bunch of hard work, done consistently. However, there is one thing that every business can do that works in every instance – the one simple secret to guaranteed business growth. Want to know what that is?

Find what’s working and do more of it. In fact, focus every fiber of your business being on that. Wait, wait, wait, I told you it was simple and to that I’m sure you’re saying something like,”well, duh,” but think about whether you really ever do this in you business or your life.

  • When Johnny comes home with an A in Calculus and a D in Spanish our reaction is to hire a Spanish tutor or ground him until that Spanish grade turns around – when it should be to see if the school has a math club or to send him off to meet with Architects, Engineers and Scientists that employ math in the real world.
  • When our new product doesn’t sell well we invest more energy, money and resources into propping it up – when we should be focused on doing even more with the five items that already sell really, really well.
  • When our best salesperson doubles everyone else using public speaking and writing we dock her for turning her reports in late – when it should be to spend hour upon hour with her documenting your company’s new lead conversion process.

Do I speak a little truth here?

We’re so wired to fix what’s broken and focus on weakness that we let what’s working, our strength, linger on its own when the real money lies in making what works better. There’s no doubt that’s where the easiest short term gains and the closest thing to a magic pill resides.


Sketch inspired by Dan Roam’s great Unfolding the Napkin

Take a look at your customer base and the graphic above. Almost every business has customers that are both highly profitable and who refer business. These are gold, something’s working here, you’re clicking with these folks on the logical and emotional level – put everything you can into understanding the who, what, when, where and why of these customers and build your business around that. Often it’s the folks on the bottom left, the one’s that complain the most, that get our attention. Do whatever you can today to eliminate the bottom left!

The same chart can be produced for products and services – stop offering stuff that people don’t want just because you’ve always offered it.

What about all your marketing activities. Figure out what’s working by analyzing and testing everything – then do more of what works.

How about your people? Grab a copy of First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham or any of the Strengths Finder books by Tom Rath and start figuring out what you and each of your people do well, and build on that, rather than trying to fix weaknesses.

Find what works and do more of it may sound too simple to be and effective strategy, but look around you a bit and you’ll find there is immense depth in these words.

Keeping your employess in the light

First Break All the RulesWhen asked to list the most important factors for considering a job number one and two was having the right tools and the information to do the job well. Income was down the list a bit. The best selling book – First Break All the Rules – does a great job highlighting this reality.

Knowing your key strategic indicators – the things that you need to measure to determine you are on the right track to meeting your business objectives – and then routinely sharing and updating this information with your team is a terribly empowering practice. If you want buy in from your staff, make sure they know what the game is and how they can win it.

From a marketing standpoint, make sure they know where revenue comes from, profit comes from, leads come from. Make sure they can spot your ideal customer, recite your core marketing messages and play a part in crafting your advertising and pr initiatives. You don’t have to pull every employee in on every decision, but you will find tremendous benefits from holding monthly or quarterly “key indicators” training with your entire team.

A game gets really boring is you don’t know how to win!

If you really want to take this whole information sharing thought to the next level check out the Great Game of Business and the Gathering of Games. This is Jack Stack’s Open Book Management Conference. Here’s a short interview I did with Jack at the Inc 500 Awards.