When asked, most business owners will say they want to grow their businesses. Of course. But what are the thought processes of CEO's of small businesses that do in fact prosper - as opposed to those who don't.
First let's define what we mean by growth. Not all growth is created equal. It is possible, especially in the federal marketplace, to win a large contract that puts you out of business. Low margins, tight time frames, demanding deliverables. That's not what any of us want. Desirable growth is achievable and profitable. It creates market value.
I have analyzed my own experiences and thought processes as an entrepreneur over the last 25 years as well as those of hundreds of other founders and their executive teams, many of whom have operated in the federal marketplace. Some have been successful and some have not. And these are my observations.
1. The CEO must have a clear vision of where he/she wants to take the company and be able to articulate that repeatedly to the whole company. Growth takes teamwork and everyone wants to be on the winning team.
2. Vision needs to be supported by specificity. "This is what we are the best in the world at" And "This is why people will buy our products and services". We are passionate about our mission and will do everything in our power to achieve that mission. This is where leadership throughout the company comes in handy.
3. The willingness to execute. Follow through. Put your money where your mouth is. Execution eats strategy for breakfast. Sweat the details.
4. It takes courage: take smart risks, admit you don't know everything, question long held assumptions, and objectively evaluate yourself, your business model, your people.
CEO's with a growth mindset are pushers. They push themselves and others to think, take action and achieve meaningful, measurable results. And they align compensation with those results.
When a growth mindset is NOT present, what I observe is passivity, angst, indecision, blaming and high turnover. And certainly no profitable growth.
Do you have a growth mindset?