Want a High-Growth Business? Here Are 5 Questions You Need to Ask—And Answer

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On September 24, 2012

Do you ever run into business colleagues and ask them how things are going—only to get the “SOSO” response? “Oh, you know,” they reply, “Same Old Same Old!” If that reply leaves you cold (and you’re not content to use it to describe your own business), you probably have your sights set on creating and sustaining a high-growth business.

High-growth businesses, however, don’t “just happen” because you want them to. You’ve got to make them happen. And in order to create—and sustain—a high-growth business, you’ve got to wrestle with a few key questions, and then make a significant commitment to making high growth a way of doing business.

Let’s take a quick look at five questions you should be asking—and answering if “SOSO” simply isn’t acceptable for you.

1. What does “high growth” look like for our company? You need to be specific about your high-growth goals. This is where you examine your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)—to make sure it is “clear and compelling, [and]serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” (Collins and Porras in Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies)

2. What has to change within the company to make that happen? You may need to take a hard look at your company mindset, culture, leadership, and even personnel. It’s possible that some current team members aren’t the right ones to help get you where you want to go.

3. What outcomes do you need to impact that will define this high growth? Again, you’ll need to be specific and you’ll need to identify things that are measureable. It’s not enough to “increase sales.” You have to specify how much and in what time frame.

4. What specific steps do you need to take to effect this change? This is where the “rubber hits the road” with regard to your resources, personnel, leadership, and culture. In #2 above, for instance, you may have decided that you need more industry expertise in a specific area. Now you need to decide whether you’re going to train existing personnel or hire new people who already have this expertise.

5. What barriers or obstacles do you need to overcome? Sometimes there are “built-in” obstacles that need to be eliminated in order to allow your business to move forward. You need brutal honesty and a clear perspective to recognize and eliminate these things. A SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) evaluation is really helpful here. And frankly, this is where an impartial outside perspective—such as a business coach—can play a key role, because it’s tough to be objective about your own company.

These simple questions can be tough to answer, but they are critical if you want to create and sustain a high-growth company. If you’d like to talk more about how to do this in your company, give me a call. I’ve walked dozens of companies through this process. Let’s talk about how to make it work for your company.