Business growth requires investment in the future, even during tough times. Prudent growth cautions against being penny wise and pound foolish and invests in people. An IT consultant once made the observation that the small foundries whose computer systems he managed tended to make the same general mistake: When the going got tough, they laid off their design engineers who were the highest paid employees. Then, when they needed someone to design the tools and parts for their production people to make, they found themselves at a loss because they no longer had design engineers.

Especially during periods of slow business, “organisations that treat employees like disposable assets rather than their most valuable one inevitably suffer across the spectrum of retention, recruitment, productivity, customer service, brand reputations–and profits,” writes Stephen De Kalb, TP3 Head of Marketing. In other words, shortchanging staff to save money only damages the business by reducing capacity, destroying morale, and building resentment. Your clients know when your employees just don’t care any more.
Business growth demands investment in your human resources, not just equipment and technology. However, equipment and technology upgrades, easier to manage and quantify than people, should be included in the commitment to growing the business.

● Improve your website. This effort requires thoroughly understanding your current website. Google Analytics offers a good place to start, but don’t just count “clicks” or the number of visits. Analyze navigation through the site, the appearance, and the content. Consider deleting anything that obstructs navigation, obfuscates comprehension, and just doesn’t advance the purpose of the site. Every word and every graphic on the site must serve a purpose.

● Repurpose your content. That white paper your vice president spent a week to write might not be your best marketing vehicle; however, the information contained within it is perfect for promoting your business. Find ways to distil and restate information so that it engages as well as informs. Use infographics to convey in a picture what would take a thousand words to explain.

● Understand the true cost to acquire new customers–and retain existing ones. As advised in the RevUp Blog by Betaspring, “Everyone’s acquisition performance varies over time. Knowing that, you can’t divide lifetime costs by lifetime customers. You end up with a skewed number that doesn’t reflect what’s actually going on.”

Commitment to growth requires just that: commitment. Business growth won’t happen without the wholehearted support of your staff. Don’t just say the words, let your actions lend meaning and veracity. Writing for SmartCEO.com, Jeff Hanhausen says, “If you’re going to grow revenues and margins, it will require a superior level of coordination and collaboration.” This refers to people, not equipment or technology. People must work together and support the goal because they support the goal, not because they’re afraid for their jobs. He adds, “You cannot grow revenues and margins until this is accepted, committed to and planned for. So if we’re going to talk about growing, first you must produce powerful teams.”

Calling a group a people a team doesn’t make it so. The old truism “There’s no I in TEAM” is often followed by a cynical response: “But there’s a U in SUCK.” In a real team, the focus shifts from the individual to the whole. “Some high-performance traits, like assertiveness, negatively affect teams,” notes Hanhausen. The people on a genuine team bring out the best in each other. They work effectively with each other. Unlike certain televised competitions in which “teams” are comprised of individual competitors who must cooperate for a short period in order to overcome a single, short-lived challenge, a genuine team pulls together for the long haul.