Thursday, October 13, 2011

Which line is it, anyway?

The top-line is the number one topic of conversation at all levels: at our TAB Board meetings, in discussions I have with business owners and managers, and given the nature of our economy, our national discussion overall.  How do we grow?

For many, growth is synonymous with being more successful.  I once worked for a man who measured the success of his least how he bragged talking about how many employees he had.  That would have been appropriate had his vision been to provide employment opportunities to as many people as possible...but he was more about comparing the size of his staff.

Size is a relative measurement, after all.  Big or small in relation to what?  Will more revenues equal more profits?  The answer is... not necessarily.  Conversely, we've all been feeling the impact of the "cut to grow" mentality in the corporate world (now being emulated by a government near you.)  Short-term profits may improve, but at what long-term cost?

The New York Times recently captured the business owner's dilemma in an excellent "You're the Boss" column.
What's your vision for your company?  What do you you value most?
  • Do you want to be the biggest or the best?  Are they compatible or competitive notions?
  • What kind of business do your customers think you are:  low-cost or value-added, or somewhere in-between?  
  • Should you raise prices or hire new sales staff?  Which will be more profitable?
  • Do you have the staff, processes and infrastructure in place to grow?  
  • What will growth cost you? Will increased revenues drop to the bottom line?  
  • Will growth change the customer experience?
The Clash once asked musically, "Do I Stay or Do I Go?"  So what's the answer?  As always, it depends on you.

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