In Energize Growth Now, author Lisa Nirell discusses five stages of growth (startup, growth, advanced growth, plateau, and decline) and the challenges entrepreneurs face as they move from one stage to the next. The book aims to help founders and other CEOs identify where their businesses stand today and what strategies they will need to successfully pivot to more growth–rather than to slowly descend into decline.
This isn’t easy stuff. Nirell points out up front that “procrastination and paralysis are part of the journey,” and says that companies facing a plateau have two choices: (1) address and fix their roadblocks to growth, or (2) avoid the problem and threaten their long-term potential. Nirell calls the process of pivoting to advanced growth “scaling the second brick wall.” She identifies five areas of focus:
- Repositioning (refocusing the business model and “how a company differentiates itself in the eyes of its customers”)
- Developing solid distribution and referral networks (Nirell notes that a solid referral network “frees [a company] from the traditional sales approach”)
- Defining and strengthening the company’s functionality (focusing on hiring wisely in three areas—strategy, operations, and infrastructure)
- Expanding capabilities (hiring people with the skill sets to move your company forward)
- Building a succession strategy (Nirell notes that the focus must be on building a strong team rather than on planning a founder’s exit strategy)
11 Planning Steps for Growth
If all Nirell did was talk about smashing the growth plateau, the book would probably be worth reading. But she does much more.
The broader value of Energize Growth Now is Nirell’s roadmap for growth. In the book, she walks through 11 planning steps (including understanding your strategic market imperatives, defining your ideal client, identifying gaps, and tracking your progress) that are designed to guide companies to long-term success. At each step, Nirell gives you questions to ask about yourself and your business, periodic reality checks, and stories from the trenches. This is a book that is written for entrepreneurs, and it’s all about helping to build a smart, sustainable business.
*Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for agreeing to review it–but without any restrictions on what I might say.