Putting growth at the heart of your business

Managing a middle market business is comprehensive. An owner often has many tasks, including hiring employees, purchasing, posting content on social media, planning employee events, and selling directly to customers. While intricately managing the day-to-day aspects of the business, the most important role a business owner plays is ultimately driving the company’s growth. Consistent thinking, strategizing, planning and acting on growth cannot be secondary to daily tasks, which could take away the owner’s time and thought process if not carefully disciplined. Leaders will be successful in growing their business by equally balancing the ability to work at work while at work. Let’s consider a roadmap for business owners on how to achieve middle market growth.

Growth brain

For mid-market companies to achieve growth, the company’s vision must be well thought out, mapped out and, most importantly, communicated. As the leader of the company, the owner must clearly articulate a sustainable growth path for critical management roles and subsequently for all employees. Commitment and acceptance are essential; a plan without proper execution due to lack of understanding will quickly fail. Strong leaders must first recognize the power of developing and nurturing a strong team to help achieve growth goals.

In order for employees to authentically understand and support the organization’s goals, the leader must set a clear vision from the top, which includes aligning leaders, departments, and people to avoid silos. Ensuring that all employees are striving for the same goal is not only a manual for success, but also establishes a healthy communication method within the organization, without anger towards the “ivory tower” when the leader is fully engaged in communicating the company’s vision.

A key role that directly affects the sustainability of the growth plan is the CFO. Recognizing the role of the CFO as the first line of strategic vision within the organization gives the company insight into cash flow, working capital, ability to secure capital and overall financial health within the business to achieve the pillars of the growth plan.

The heart of growth

The heart of every successful business is its employees. Adapting to a “people first” mentality is a responsibility that all leaders should commit to, recognizing that hiring and working with the right people will improve the overall culture of the organization, resulting in the best customer experience. Over the past year, companies of all sizes and industries have reported difficulties retaining and engaging talent; if a company wants to grow, it can only do so if the right people are hired and, more importantly, retained.

A company’s strategic plan can also define how employees are recruited. What qualities are best aligned with the vision of business growth? How can a company attract the right employees? How do company benefits packages exceed the needs of working professionals? These questions are critical to attracting and retaining top talent, including establishing a thorough onboarding process to ensure new hire success.

One technique for incorporating a healthy new employee onboarding strategy is to shift your mindset from “training” to “preparation.” Explaining corporate policies and procedures in the form of traditional training can discourage or bore new hires, missing the opportunity to engage in communicating the organization’s vision. A “preparatory” mindset allows new hires to envision themselves on their journey within the company as active players in the results.

Leaders are also responsible for keeping all employees engaged. Keeping pace with situational changes (ie, inflation) for employees outside the executive pay package is critical to maintaining competitive and fair wages, establishing rewards programs to celebrate wins, and leadership education programs to encourage ongoing professional development.

The soul of growth

Establishing the “brain” and “heart” of the company will enable a synergistic shift in market growth and planning. Strategic planning should focus on how and where teams should spend their time and energy. Is the company’s strategy more focused on organic market growth or acquisition strategies? Are the teams looking for new market expansions or researching new products/services to further meet the needs of your customers? Too often companies say “yes” to everyone without truly understanding how to achieve success.

How do leaders combat these risks? It comes back to getting the right people involved. We ask big questions as we move in the direction of our questions. Have a clear vision of where we are going. Adoption of the strategic planning process is dynamic.

Executing the growth plan

Let’s address the elephant in the room — it takes extreme discipline, focus, time and energy to be successful at work while you’re at work. Leaders should align the company and its strategic vision with forward-thinking business advisors to ensure that the plan can be executed and acted upon. A plan is only good if it is thoroughly executed, which can be the most daunting task on a business owner’s long to-do list.

Establishing a relationship of trust with qualified and experienced accountants and business advisors results in additional support in the owner’s corner to achieve sustainable growth.

Brandon H. Fredericks, CPA, is Head of Consulting and Growth at Apple Growth Partners. Contact him at
[email protected]

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