Are you being seduced by a GROWTH story that could harm your firm?
Have you noticed how many growth gurus there are these days. You know the ones, good-looking, silver tongued motivational speakers and authors, bouncing around on stage like they’ve just chugged two energy drinks. Growth gurus have a story, a mantra: Growth is Good. Growth is King. If you aren’t growing, you’re dying. Growth is a silver bullet that will solve all your problems. Because if you are not growing, you have a problem.
They are outstanding salespeople – they sell freedom. There’s a constant push. You must make more every year. That’s how you prove yourself (or more likely chastise yourself because, for another year, you didn’t achieve your growth target).
And what is wrong with that, I hear you cry?
Actually, this focus on growth can be unhealthy without considering the current relationships and the firm sustainability. What happens if you can’t service your current clients effectively? Is the growth you are achieving in revenue actually matched by an increase in profitability? Constant growth, without time to consolidate and focus on sustainability, can be very painful.
These growth gurus are very confident, so confident that we think they must be right. But if we go into their dealings, and we have a look at the financials, what these people are doing is selling us a story which is often not backed by the facts.
Why?… well, what happens if the advice actually depletes future opportunity.
A healthy pause
Every business experiences natural ebbs and flows. Instead of hand-wringing when you hit a plateau, you should use it to consolidate and communicate more with your people and your clients. Turn your attention to developing a sustainable business build on strong foundations, one that can sustain growth pains.
Accounting – like all professional services organisations – is a people game. Still. So what do we do when we are not focusing on the latest growth fad? We communicate. We talk to our staff, to our clients. Hey, what about a chat with your spouse and your kids. Opportunities lies in these simple acts.
You will discover ways to make your staff happier and more productive in-fact, just having a chat with them (instead of barging head down into your office and closing the door) might work wonders.
A conversation with your clients will reveal ways you can help them to grow or increase profits. We don’t need to tell you why a chat with your spouse or children might be good idea…
What to do when you are not growing
Don’t start doubting yourself when you get to a “success ceiling”. Use it constructively.
Shift the focus from growing your client register to strengthening client relationships by helping them grow. And win more profitable advisory jobs rather than compliance in the process.
This is not just about business. It is about mental health and living a wholesome existence – which, in case you’ve forgotten, as we all do at times, is why you work so hard in the first place!
The truth is that our industry is evolving. The way we communicate and work with each other can be a pleasant evolution, not a scary one. There’s a lot of negativity that underlies many accountants’ thinking processes and, in that sense, a desperation.
I don’t have a silver bullet, an infomercial, or a product to sell to help your business grow. It’s a subtler, more complex process. But there is one thing I do know, from my experience and from that of my clients: