I had an interesting conversation today about strategy and growth. What was different about this conversation was that the tone of it just made sense. As my firm has grown and matured, things have changed. The stakes have become bigger, the rewards better and the disappointments more bitter. As I wondered aloud ‘am I dreaming too large’ these are the nuggets the conversation gave me.
Speak to the level you want to reach
Business always tells you that you have to speak the same language as your customers and I agree with that. But what you also have to do is speak to the level of the leadership. Executives expect you to speak their language of strategic plans, long-term objectives, and resource allocations. As small businesses we get so use to dumbing down our approach that we forget to speak up. The big guys expect that when we open our mouth, we know how to speak executive and you know what? We should.
Board positions as business development
I was told by a wonderful colleague that she was afraid my involvement with some peripheral efforts would take up too much of my time without yielding a lot of return. What I know is that joining boards is a great business development and strategic growth strategy. It’s the one place where you can see potential customers on a regular basis without the pressure of a ‘sales pitch’. If you subscribe to the notion that people buy from people they know, then strategically selecting board positions is a sound growth strategy.
There is a reason that Fortune 500 CEO’s are involved in things with high visibility, the more people that see you the more they know about you. The more that they know about you, the more likely they are to invest in your company. I recently facilitated a panel and unbeknownst to me the top dog of a major military installation and his leadership team were in attendance. I am now on this person’s radar, he knows who I am and what I do. If I hadn’t taken this leadership role, I would have never had this opportunity and I would have never had this kind of exposure.
So we know that no one gives you a handbook on the right way to run a business, but the truth is that you don’t need one. What you need is a strong circle of business friends that will tell you the truth, a strong sense of purpose and the strength to do it one more time. It’s worth it, I promise.