What Happens if You Succeed?

Yesterday, I walked down to my favorite coffee shop and had a conversation with one of the baristas — something that has become harder for me to do since the shop continues to grow in popularity.

In this rare lull in the shop, the barista was telling me that they had been recently been approached by someone who wanted to help them grow their brand on a large-scale level.

And, while that sounds really appealing at first, he told me that the owner turned down the idea.

The reason?

They don’t want to sacrifice what they’ve become — a hip, local shop for coffee lovers.
  While the coffee shop would consider the idea of opening other locations in town, they don’t want to sell out and water down their brand to become something even bigger.

That makes this loyal patron extremely happy.

However, I think there’s a larger lesson here.

It gets down to knowing your brand’s core values, staying true to your brand promise and understanding what success looks like to you.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

In business, we often think that bigger is always better. We’re always chasing growth and expansion.

But sometimes, in doing so, we can dramatically change shape of what made the business successful in the first place.

This reminds me of a story of another local company who actually turned down a large contract in the early days of their burgeoning startup.

InQuicker decided there was a cost to their growth. For them, growing too big would wreck their company culture and “employee-first” mentality.

That’s why they’ve identified how large they want to grow, while still maintaining their identity as a company.

The Cost of Growth

I’m not suggesting that business growth is a bad thing.

Far from it.

However, there can be a cost to success. It can change your culture. It can impact the level of service you deliver. And, it can even impact your profitability.

As people, we are so programmed to prepare for the worst; we fail to consider what success looks like for our business.

That’s why I think it’s important for businesses to ask the question – “what happens if we actually succeed?”

What happens if your product launch floods you with sign-ups?

What happens if you invest in a comprehensive marketing effort that makes the phone ring off the hook?

What happens if your product or service becomes wildly popular?

Taking the time to answer those questions can be incredibly eye opening.

You might find that you need to do some of the following:

  • Hire additional people to get the work done
  • Streamline processes to become more efficient
  • Find ways to scale your product or service offerings to remain profitable
  • Remove product or service lines that are performing
  • Invest in technology to handle the infrastructure demands
  • Acquire more office space

When going through this exercise, you might find that your company is prepared to handle the growth and that you’re ready and willing to make the necessary changes that come with it.

Or, perhaps you might discover that growth or expansion might not be worth it for you.

Either way, it’s important to stop and answer the question — what happens if you succeed?

Do you know what success looks like for your company? Have you taken time to consider what happens if you grow?


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Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

One reply on “What Happens if You Succeed?”

Hi Laura,

I apologize for bringing every story back around to insurance, but it’s what I know! One peculiarity about certain lines is that you cannot grow too fast– it’s not just bad for business, but the rating agencies frown upon it as well. Instead, companies look for steady, modest growth year after year.

To that end, we’ve worked with carriers who are very pro-active and others who’ve been caught flat-footed. The former asked us about our plans for growth going into the next year (and asked all of our colleagues), then made appropriate staffing plans. When a surge of new business occurred, they were prepared.

The flat-footed carriers had their heads in the sand and inevitably fell behind– service levels declined, cycle times lengthened, and relationships soured– even though the competitive landscape should’ve flagged an onslaught of volume.

These things are true in all industries…
Stephen D. Forman, CLTC

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