Starting a small business is hard. Roughly 20% fail within the first year of their startup, and more follow suit year after year. CEOs face an incredible amount of pressure on their shoulders not only to sustain their business but also to grow it. Many find their wheels spinning, especially in challenging economic times.
The economic climate is rocky at best, and trends are constantly changing. Marketing tactics can feel like an expensive game of catch-up. Because of the ever-changing nature of trends, it is crucial to scale by blending trend-resistant and trend-adaptive tactics. The numbers are grim, but rest assured, breaking out of the mold is entirely possible. This article will cover three tips found in small business books that can help CEOs find their avenue of growth and tackle the transition out of the “small business” stage.
1. Practice Discipline
Many CEOs struggle financially and strategically transitioning from the “small business” stage to achieving scalable growth. In her bestselling book “Bigger and Better: A Playbook for Quickly Scaling Your Small Company with Limited Resources,” multi-industry C-Suite executive Esther Kestenbaum Prozan speaks to the role of discipline in achieving lean growth. Prozan’s playbook points out that the policies and procedures CEOs put in place for their business operations are only useful if followed. Many small businesses simply bend the rules and betray their set guidelines to avoid conflict for fear of losing a sale. The truth is this practice can put a swift drain on your enterprise value.
Saying “yes” to something that should probably be a “no” is a common snare for small businesses. The “yes” may have been easy, but declining may have provided additional growth opportunities. Having the discipline to adhere to operational guidelines, regardless of external pressures, will pave the way for plenty of future “yes” moments.
2. Embrace Innovation
Technology is constantly evolving; therefore, your business must have that layer of flexibility. Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows CEOs to give their time to more tasks by allowing AI to improve customer experience (CX), analyze data, and perform other repetitive tasks. Implementing chatbots and the like can immediately impact your available time as a CEO and your employees to focus on more tedious tasks requiring human touch and expertise.
“The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen discusses the importance of disruptive innovation in a successful business’s life cycle. Embracing innovation and being agile in response to evolving technologies is a full-time job, but it will prove its worth year after year. As a CEO, you are responsible for fostering your team’s daily environment. Creating an environment that embraces both innovation and change is a great thing. This creates a new layer of trust in your employees that you want the best for them and the business.
3. Build Strong Relationships
Creating relationships is the center of all growth methodology because of its lasting impact. Someone may not be a fit as a customer right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Those relationships can potentially blossom into future business and referrals. Making it a priority to build relationships without asking for something in return is imperative to setting the foundation for future growth.
In “The Relationship Economy: Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age,” John DiJulius discusses strategies for fostering lasting relationships and positioning yourself as a thought leader. Through thought leadership, businesses can position themselves in a way that creates lasting relationships with their current and future customers. This can be done by creating and sharing valuable online and offline content. The idea is that if you have established yourself as an authority in your sphere of influence, people will return to receive value from you time and time again. And, when the time comes for a customer to need your product or service, you’ll be top of mind.
Accepting the Challenges of a Startup in 2024
With today’s entrepreneurial challenges, CEOs must learn from the experiences and wisdom of other seasoned business professionals. Growth, often non-linear, unfolds uniquely for each venture. Yet, the wisdom shared here applies to almost any venture.
That’s because sustained growth transcends industries; it necessitates a shift in perspective. CEOs navigating this ever-evolving landscape must ground their compass in discipline, innovation, and nurturing relationships. It’s not about a fixed formula for success but rather maximizing a business’s intrinsic value. It is up to the CEO and leadership to capitalize on that value to move their business forward in 2024 and the years to come.
Featured image provided by Startup Stock Photos; Pexels; Thanks!