We talk about growth a lot in our emails to you. It’s why BOSS exists – to help Australian and New Zealand firms attain growth. That’s why it’s important to us that we’re all on the same page about what “growth” really is.
We find that a lot of firm owners see growth as an end – our revenue is up therefore we have grown. And they leave it at that.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that the firm isn’t prepared for what comes with growth – higher expectations from a growing number of clients. While that revenue is indeed higher than the previous year, nothing has been done to maintain the new level of clients and/or the heightened level of services that allow the firm to charge more. The fishing net is full this year, but since we didn’t bother to get a bigger net, plenty more big fish can swim right by us in the years to follow.
A definition of growth
Here’s the healthier, more profitable way to look at growth – growth isn’t an end result, it’s a tool. We’ve grown? Great! Now we have the resources to achieve goals A, B, and C which were unattainable in the past.
If we use the first definition (growth is just revenue) then we stall out. If we use the latter definition (growth is a means to achieve goals) then it’s self-propelling. This is significant when you consider how many times growth has come up as the most significant challenge faced by firms in the Good Bad Ugly Report over the years.
Focusing on growth
Perhaps the biggest problem with the revenue definition is that it makes a firm’s leader think that all of their efforts should be focused purely on sales (promotions, advertising, etc.). If that works and you haul in a whole whack of new clients… what then?
- Can you handle the big jump in required work hours?
- Will you be able to maintain quality?
- Will you still be able to make face-time for your A-list clients?
- Will you be able to tweak service packages to draw clients into purchasing new and additional services?
- Will you have time to thoroughly vet new hires?
- Can your workflow handle the heavier workload? (Do you have a documented workflow at all?)
- Are your team members going to resent the extra workload?
Like any good tool, growth requires maintenance. You may find your revenue blossoming, but without care, you’re going to find yourself running around putting out fires (dissatisfied clients, stressed out employees, etc.) instead of channeling the increase into improving the design of your office space, bringing in a new superstar hire, adding additional services, evolving from a paper office into a cloud-based firm, more personal time off away from the firm (it can run itself), or whatever long-term goals you have in mind.
The best thing you can do to turn your business into a growth-oriented firm is to document your workflows. Get every step of your process for any particular kind of work into a document so clear and concise that a fresh employee can get a clear grasp of their job from the moment they sit down.
By having this process in black and white, you’re going to have a much easier time identifying where in the file’s workflow things get slowed down, and you can react in a much more effective manner than if you were to guess at it.
Additionally, you’re going to be able to slot in new hires with far less training required from you. And you and your whole team will be free from the time-sink (and stress-maker) that is micromanagement.
This also makes you look more impressive to your clients. With that workflow in place if they call up you can readily answer when their file should be done, as opposed to giving a broad-stroke guestimate. The defined workflow allows for the creation of definitive due dates.
Get started on your growth now
Even if your firm is brand-spanking new, you can get it prepped for growth right now by implementing that documented workflow. A workflow is easily scalable, chaos is not (well, not in any beneficial way anyway).
The workflow will increase your productivity and quality. It will free up your time to let you have more interactions with your clients. This will produce referrals and will induce existing clients to purchase more services from your firm. This growth will give you the resources to improve sections of your workflow, which in turn will improve your growth rate, and so on. And all of this will give you the resources you require to achieve your long-term goals for your firm.