In today’s market, growth is no longer the measure of success, profitability is; not sure why it takes so long for some companies to figure this out, but just like athletes on steroids, there comes a point where the body can no longer grow, and maintaining a healthy weight is a better approach.

Sure, there will be companies that experience growth, but I think in order to survive and be a sustainable business, the practical approach needs to shift from “getting bigger” to “finding a healthy size” and trying to maintain it. So instead of constantly stepping on the scale, consider evaluating your business health as follows:

If you first evaluate your business based on profitability goals, that is, finding the point at which you function most efficiently given your current size; than plan your sales accordingly, you may discover you focus your efforts more on the content and quality of your presentations over just driving growth or more sales volume.

In other words, understand your “sustainability” level, than plan around it, exploring how you can more naturally grow without forcing percentages or expectations based more on external market factors. Know who you are first and stick to your strengths without letting your weaknesses get in the way, and don’t succumb to peer (market or investor) pressure. When I was a buyer many years ago, we did this with our category reviews, always looking at the value of driving sales growth and the impact on profitability; we would find the point where volume really made a difference, and avoid pushing sales volume if were not achieving some level of bottom line gross profit increases – businesses need to practice the same approach.

Sustained growth is not a realistic expectation over time; just like people, companies mature and experience more rapid growth early in their lifecycle, but over time, this flattens out and the focus shifts to remaining healthy and living a longer more productive life. Explore the benefits of stability and sustainability over growth; understand the impact your company has on people, both internally and externally, and carefully consider your profit goals over your growth goals. Just looking to get bigger can lead to false expectations and an unhealthy business…just like the athlete using steroids, it can yield quick results, but the long term impact can be disastrous.

Run your business like you take care of your body, feed it with a healthy diet of careful planning based on profitability and sustainability over processed sales growth with no nutritional value. Everyone will benefit over the long term.

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