Published - October 2000

By Dave Jakielo


The other day a business owner asked me if he was successful. He stated that his business was growing at a rate of 25% per year for the past five years. Before I could answer his question I had to ask a question. My question was, "What would you like your annual growth rate to be?"

His response was "30% per year." Given that he has fallen 25% short of his five year plan you may jump to the conclusion that he wasn't very successful, but that isn't necessarily true.
Not hitting the target could be due to a variety of reasons:
Maybe the original goal was unrealistic.
Lack of a viable business growth plan.
Or maybe it was lack of adherence to a great business growth plan.

Whatever the reason for the shortfall, it can always be corrected. The reason I'm addressing business growth is because it is usually one of the top three, if not the number one question asked of me on a regular basis.

Let's examine why a growth plan can stall or fall short of expectations. The first element to successful growth is to have realistic goals. For example, perhaps you have a goal of doubling the size of your business. However, part of that goal is that you only want to service clients in a certain specialty, that is, within a one-hour drive of your office. You must ask yourself is this a doable goal? Are there enough potential clients within your proposed service radius?

You must gather and analyze data to see if your goal is reachable or if you are just wishing on a star. Living in Pittsburgh PA, I'd love to have oceanfront property but it isn't going to happen. Thus, step one is be realistic.

The second step in the growth process is to develop a viable plan and then follow it. I have seen some wonderful growth and marketing ideas just sitting on the shelf collecting dust. For instance, my favorite observation occurred as I saw one plan, printed on high quality glossy paper, organized in a beautiful binder, serving a company well. They used the binder to prop the door open to the computer room so the CPU didn't overheat.

Items that should be addressed in every plan are: Where are you now and where do you want to go?
What markets do you want to compete in?
How many potential prospects are out there?
Who are your current competitors?
What are your strengths and weakness?
What are your competitor's strengths and weaknesses?
What is your capacity for growth?

The above list isn't all-inclusive, but it's a great start.

Lastly, the biggest cause of stagnation I find in companies is that the owner is an Interpreneur not an Entrepreneur. What's the difference you may ask?

An Interpreneur is someone who is so busy being busy they take their eyes of their growth goals. They work in their business not on their business. The traits of an interpreneur are easy to distinguish. They are the person who keys charges or payments on a regular basis when the data entry clerk is sick. Or they do all the computer backups themselves because it's "to important to leave to anyone else."

I'm not saying the above are bad traits they just conflict with trying to grow a business. If you are consistently working in the business you'll never have time to work outside "on the business." Remember, "you never have time for everything, but you always have time for the most important things."

In contrast, an Entrepreneur is someone who works on the business not in the business. They make time to attend meetings and seminars where potential clients maybe lurking. They read the appropriate trade journal scouting for opportunities. They work with their current clients to help them introduce them to new prospects. Remember, in any service business, a positive referral means your half way there to landing a new client. Plus, they make time for networking.

Keep in mind, you can be successful with either approach, success is how you define it. There is no one measure that defines success. However, don't fool yourself by thinking you can rapidly grow your company by being an Interpreneur, and also never forget one very important rule in business. You are either growing or shrinking...there is "NO STANDING STILL."

Keep in mind I'll be happy to address any issue of importance to you. So keep your questions and suggestions coming. Send inquires to any of the following. David Jakielo, Seminars, Training & Consulting 86 Hall Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15205. or visit my web page at

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