Grow or die?

86589963 January is the goal-setting month.  But, the truth is, most companies don't do it very well. 

They look at their numbers (gross sales, # of employees, profit margins, etc) and with a mix of industry knowledge and wild assed guess – they project a percentage increase.

We will increase our gross billings by 7% and our profits (through additional efficiencies) by 10%.

And then they scramble to figure out how to get that done. 

Sound familiar?

How are we defining growth?

We've all heard the phrase "grow or die."  But maybe grow doesn't mean grow bigger.  Maybe it means grow better.  Move from good to great.  Refine and define your brand.  And then figure out how you are actually going to live and honor it.

Jay Ehret wrote a very smart post about this topic at his excellent blog, The Marketing Spot.  Please make time to read it.

So if you're still with me –  answer these questions.

How do you grow better in 2009? 

Define (if you haven't) or revisit (if you already have defined) your brand.  How are you actually bringing it to life?

How are you going to invest in your employees this year?  How will you get the brand from your brain to their hearts?

How can you involve your customers in your pursuit of better? 

What do you think?  Could this be the year you get better?  If so…how did you answer some of the questions above?

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4 comments on “Grow or die?

  1. Piotr J. says:


    It seems that goal-setting in the New Year in many cases is just like setting New Years Resolutions. We all feel the need to “redefine” our habits or do things differently, but in the end only those who work the hardest end up achieving their goals.

    I’d have to agree that there are two ways to grow. Grow out or grow better. More often than not, especially with smaller companies, it’s probably a better idea to grow better and provide a good/service that transcends the others. And the best way to do that is to start internally. If your employees believe in the product/service they are providing, why wouldn’t the customer?

  2. Piotr,

    I think the problem stems from the fact that everyone assumes bigger is better. (Even if they have read Seth’s Small is the new big.)

    For some companies, that is certainly true. But for many companies — growth can actually be a killer. Growing too big, too fast can wipe out an organization.

    Especially if they didn’t grow better first. So you’re probably right. Growing better should pre-empt growing bigger.


  3. “Growing better should pre-empt growing bigger.”

    That’s a big problem with mergers. A company I worked for, InBev, was the result of a merger of two companies (Interbrew and AmBev), which made them the biggest brewery group in the world. When I worked there in 2007, their vision was: “From biggest to best”. That’s a clear sign that they were doing it the other way around. But apparently they decided that they’d rather be even bigger and bought Anheuser-Busch.

    Of course it’s easier for a big company to deal with those shortcomings, but I believe growth has to be “organic”, so that a company can actually keep its identity.

  4. Tobias,

    I think some companies are hard-wired to grow bigger. But as you point out, that doesn’t always make them better. And as you know, many companies’ “vision of the month/year” are more hype than a genuine push for change or getting better.

    But bigger doesn’t prevent being excellent. Look at Disney. They’re the largest single site employer in the US. So as you suggest — culture is the key.


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