Success = Believe in Who You Are!

It is very easy for businesses today to lose their way, as change of all kinds is occurring endlessly and no enterprise is immune from its impact. Guest contributor Tom Heuer, a professor in the School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Miami of Ohio University, has graciously provided some winning approaches, designed to help organizations continue to grow in spite of the uncertainty and unpredictability of the world around us. Read, enjoy, and learn.


“Business is difficult today.” We hear this statement from the executive leaders that we consult with and from the recent graduates who are in their first or second position. We are not hearing that “business has been robust over the past few months.” Now, we wish that this was an anomaly, but reality is telling us that many companies are struggling. Beyond experiencing difficult economic times, why are many companies not meeting expectations?

The answer is very simple – most organizations are too fixated on delivering today’s results and not preparing their company for tomorrow. “Today” is important. Without today’s success, you may never arrive at tomorrow. However, many leadership teams come to the understanding way too late that organizations must prepare every day for their future. The hard work of business sustainability/growth relies on allocating time to thinking and focusing on the future. What is happening in the marketplace? How is our industry changing? What firms are entering the market innovating and creating disruption? How are our customers’ needs changing? Are these changes being factored it into our future?

Our experience is that most companies and their leadership teams can avoid sluggishness if they work hard at envisioning the future while staying true to who they are. Yes, the markets and business environment are evolving rapidly. But, leaders who are in touch with their company can adapt to disruption swiftly. The adjustment will be difficult if senior management is primarily concentrating on delivering the monthly or quarterly plan.

So, what are “real growth” companies eagerly doing to sustain their revenue opportunities? In working with clients, we have discovered five distinct approaches:

  1. These companies know who they are and have worked hard to share this with their stakeholders. The leaders believe in their identity. This belief inspires their view of the future. So, with support of their stakeholders, they are committed to their vision long term.
  2. Culture is everything to these companies. Success starts with a defined culture. Leaders embrace and promote the culture. They hire people and entice customers who reflect their values and culture. Culture adherence makes companies powerful.

3. They know their customers intimately and reinvent their product offerings and services to reflect their customers’ articulated and unarticulated needs. These companies are uncanny in creating demand and ultimately, sustaining their business – because they know their customer.

4. By realizing their identity and understanding the customer intimately, these companies put serious resources behind developing the capabilities necessary to execute the business/service model. Securing the capabilities is their promise to loyal customers. This drives sustainable revenue growth.

5. Achieving margin growth is second nature. These companies will jettison businesses, products and people that are no longer in line with their identity and/or are underperforming. This approach provides the resources to build the capabilities for delivering the value proposition and sustaining sales.

Success in today’s difficult business environment requires all companies to know their identity and stay committed to it. This is leadership’s job. Your stakeholders will expect you follow this path. So, stay disciplined and be encouraged by the company’s steady and sustained sales growth.

Please let me know your thoughts. Look forward to your comments.  Tom

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