Growth is present in multiple circumstances throughout life. As humans, we see and experience growth every day of our lives from birth through to old age. We never stop growing. We learn, we process, we succeed, we fail, we progress, and ultimately we move forward to the end. By definition, it’s the process of increasing size. So how do we define growth in business? Well, that depends on what we determine as ‘proof’ of growth. Whether it’s an increase in profitability, in size, in reputability or knowledge, growth by definition is broad.
Where I’ve felt growth personally is when embracing change in life. To embrace change will result in growth. I believe doing the same thing over and over again will only achieve the same results. Down to a binary level, if you keep adding 5 and 5, you’re going to get 10, no matter how many times you do it. But add 5 and any other number, and you’ve got a 50% chance of getting a higher result.
It’s also about stepping out of your comfort zone. You need to tackle issues and problems head on, and take responsibility on board. I believe growth has come in my life by taking responsibility. Whether in business or through personal choices. I also believe growth consists of 90% failure. If you want growth, be prepared to fail. Not saying you’re going to – but you have to have that preparation in place so when you do inevitably fall, you can get right back up again.
One mistake I often see with SME’s and companies when they’re talking about growth, is that they cannot differentiate between growth and expansion. But there’s an easy way to see the difference: when you’re young, if you keep eating the wrong things, your body is going to expand quicker than you’re going to grow. Eat the right things, and it’s a different story. That’s the main difference between growing and simply expanding – it doesn’t mean taking on everything, it’s taking on the right things. So when companies declare ‘We’re going to get bigger! We’re going to expand! We’re going to extend our product lines!’ It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re actually going to grow. They’re just going to get fatter and less lean, costing themselves more and more money to sustain their new weight.
It’s the most common misconception that you need to go big, to grow. Growth isn’t about just blindly saying yes, it’s about saying no to the right things. And a prime example in my life is instead of trying to do 2-3 events a month and trying to raise £2-3,000 each time – which was easy money because I knew they were going to sell – I said no to the obvious, to the low-hanging fruit, and decided to focus on the big juicy fruit at the top, which was slightly higher up and would require a little ingenuity to reach. And by doing that, by constantly going through the struggle of trying to reach higher, I found I got a little taller. It wasn’t easy, but I achieved growth.
And alongside failure, I believe hardship is one of the most important components of growth. It’s something that can only really be seen afterwards. Through your vulnerability, you’ll find the strength to grow. I love problems. I embrace them because I know ultimately they’re going to give me something greater at the end. And what I would say to other people is, see problems like rain to a plant.
The final thing I believe is that a company that is looking to grow cannot afford not to consistently grow. Because consistency is incompatible with failure. As I said, if you’re looking for the 10, 5 + 5 is always going to get you there. Life is so fast-paced and you could be at the top of the pile one day and tomorrow you’ll be at the bottom. So the aim is to consistently strive for greatness. Because there’s enough companies out there ready to bite at your heels to take your place if you start to slip.
Growth in any form, whether business or personal, is not possible without drive. You need ambition, you need passion and you need motivation, and that’s square one. If you have that drive to do bigger and better things right from the start, your pathway to growth is ripe to begin.