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I want you to take a second and visualize what your life would look like if your company grew by 10 times. Could you spend more time with your family? Accomplish things that you never thought possible? Up until about a year ago, I laughed at the idea of expanding a business by that amount in a short period of time. Despite our crazy growth (just under 3,000 percent) in four years, it didn’t seem possible to sustainably expand any more than that. That is, until I sat down on a whim one day and decided to figure out what it would look like if we did indeed grow by 10 times.
I was shocked to find out that there were only three things preventing me from this dramatic growth. Before I tell you what these three tactics are, I want to fill you in on a few questions that I had to ask myself about the future of my business if we did try for explosive growth.
Asking the right questions
The first questions were focused on the logistics. What would my company look like if it grew by 10 times? How much revenue would we be achieving each month? Each year? What is the current average value of one customer? With this question in mind, I had to figure out what it would take to move from our current client list to our “10 times” list. If our current average customer value didn’t change and I never lost another customer, how many new customers would I need? From here, I could figure out how many years I wanted the process of growing 10 times to take; for the sake of the exercise, I decided on three years. With that in mind, I had to estimate how many customers we would lose each of those three years.
Once I had all the data, I was actually surprised by the numbers. My first reaction when considering 10 times growth was to laugh; but after reviewing the projections, it doesn’t actually seem unachievable. What I found was that I needed to focus on three tactics, and with a few tweaks to my marketing strategy, I could really start to grow my business 10 times in just three years. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited by these findings. So, I did a little more digging and found that these three areas are actually the same three areas all businesses can focus on to experience 10 times growth.
1. Attract new customers — the right way.
It’s a basic rule of business that you need to add more new customers in order to grow. We all know it, and yet most business owners make two huge mistakes in accomplishing this. The first mistake is only focusing on attracting new customers, without a retention strategy. The second mistake is focusing on only a few sources of new customers. Unfortunately, both of these tactics will leave your business vulnerable to change and loss.
I learned this lesson the hard way with one of my early entrepreneurial ventures. Years ago, I had a business that relied on AdWords for 85 percent of our new leads, only to have AdWords change the rules and not allow business opportunity ad types any longer. Luckily I had an email list, but despite my best efforts, that company still went out of business.
Now I know better than to leave the fate of my lead generation up to one or two sources. My preference today is to have as many sources of new customers as possible, with a goal of having no single source account for greater than 15 percent of my inbound customers. This strategy allows me to never live in fear of media or a partnership going bad; it also allows me to grow more quickly toward that 10 times goal than relying on any single media source would.
2. Gain and retain.
My next tactic focuses on customer retention. I hate losing customers. I put so much into gaining new customers that I want to do everything possible to keep them. But, many business neglect this simple strategy and continually struggle to hit their growth potential. The way I see it, by focusing on retention, I need fewer new customers in order to hit my goals of growing 10 times because I am not having to replace lost customers every month.
On a side note, one area of improvement that is often overlooked when considering customer retention is the overall customer experience. Making sure the customer has a great experience before, during and after the sale will not only keep that person as a customer, but also contribute to business growth in the form of referrals. If you are struggling to gain new customers and retain your current clients, you may need to take a closer look at the customer experience that you provide.
3. Provide added value.
The third tactic to invest time and money in is increased lifetime value (LTV) of each customer. What else can you sell your customers after their initial purchase that adds value to their experience? The math on this one is easy: a 10-percent, across-the-board increase in LTV will decrease the number of new customers you need each month, and may very well improve overall customer experience and the likelihood of referrals.
If you feel like you’re in a one-and-done business — for example, personal injury law — think again. Your clients may have additional needs in the future, and you could easily connect them to reliable sources for a referral fee. I know an immigration attorney who has created a continuity program for his services. So, there are options, even if you are in a traditionally one-and-done business.
The final exercise I did in this journey was to simply spend some time thinking about what life would look like while leading a company 10 times our current size. How would it affect my family? How would it affect my finances? What would a company 10 times our current size mean for my team members? What kind of additional benefits, perks and opportunities could we offer them? What would my job even look like at that size? How could I affect the community around me?
Of course, it is natural to have fear and maybe even a little self-doubt about growing 10 times — this is normal. If you decide to start down this path, you won’t have all the answers from Day One, and there will be challenges along the way. But, the same is true should you chose a more traditional, slow growth path. So you owe it to yourself to at least explore what your world would look like. In the end, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a peek, expanding your opportunities, and maybe even deciding to grow 10 times and change your life.