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How to Grow Your Business During Challenging Times

Posted by Dawn White on Jan 28, 2021 8:08:59 AM
Dawn White
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businesswoman standing with arms crossed in front of her team | grow your business during challenging times

The pandemic has not been kind to businesses, and it has left many owners looking for reliable models to help them get through the crisis in one piece. IDI has been fortunate to not only remain stable during the pandemic, but to continue growing. In 2020, we:

  • Grew our staff by 25 percent
  • Increased our annual revenue
  • Developed a new product for release
  • More than doubled our customer loyalty (NPS) score

Our success in 2020 is due to groundwork that was laid three years before, when we made important changes to the way we do business. Since then, we’ve learned some lessons about what makes a resilient and flourishing business in the midst of uncertain times. Many of these insights come from the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). Donald Miller’s latest book, Business Made Simple, also echoes many of the lessons we’ve learned through the years.

Want to build a stronger business that can weather any storm? Here are some of the best practices we’ve discovered.

Related reading: Intuit’s 4 Lessons Learned for the Future of Work Following the Pandemic

Get Everyone Rowing in the Same Direction

As EOS founder, Gino Wickman, puts it, when your people aren’t all aligned and headed in the same direction, the energies of your company are actually competing with one another. Your organization is heading in several directions, which pulls you from here to there.

But when everyone is aligned and headed in the same direction, with the same mission and goals, your combined efforts and energy gives your company tremendous traction.

Getting everyone aligned starts with defining what your company is all about — in EOS, that’s your mission statement, Core Values, and Core Focus. When everyone in your company knows and lives by these things, you have everyone rowing together in the same direction. And that’s like Miracle-Gro® for your organization!

IDI’s mission is to use our 35+ years of experience in the HCM industry working with fantastic people to deliver peace of mind through simplifying complex workforce data processes and calculations with elegant, client-centered solutions.

Our Core Values are

  • Customer Centric — unflappable, focused on delight, excellence of service & product, professional communication.
  • Collaborative — do the right thing; greater good, respectful with a positive attitude.
  • Integrity — do what you say and complete it when you said you would.
  • Dedication — do what it takes; willing to try; willing to fail; driven.
  • Initiative — ingenuity, make suggestions, challenge status quo, come with solutions.

Of course, it’s one thing to write your mission statement and another thing to actually live by it! Here are some ways EOS and Donald Miller make it work:

  • The mission statement should be memorable, interesting, and easy to understand. It should invite people into a story that they can live out.
  • Make the mission statement tangible and measurable.
  • Hold each employee accountable for memorizing the mission statement.
  • Post it in places where people will see it frequently.

Getting everyone aligned means investing in your people. Encourage every employee to develop and focus on their personal goals, or a life plan as Donald Miller puts it. The idea is to mesh each person’s goals with the company’s mission. This motivates your best employees and helps weed out people who don’t fit with the company’s goals.

Discover more: 7 Business Decisions Your Company Will Need to Make to Thrive in 2021

Track the Right Metrics

Just about every business book will preach the virtues of having key metrics and making data-driven decisions. Donald Miller puts an interesting spin on it, which we’re excited about at IDI. He says that your measurables should be tied to your mission and Core Focus, so that it’s clear whether your organization is achieving its mission.

Miller also recommends tracking your profit per team member. Ideally, your profit should be going up with every new hire. Calculate the average value per employee, as well as the actual value of each individual. This approach turns every member of your team into a value-driven contributor, and it helps inform hiring decisions. For example, if you bring in another account manager, you should be able to expect your business to grow by a certain amount.

Make sure every employee knows how much they’re worth to the company. Not only does it give added value to their work, it helps them to track their contribution to the organization over time. Knowing each person’s value to the company also fuels those professional development discussions that managers should be having with their direct reports.

Some employees don’t directly contribute to revenue, but they can contribute to cost savings. You might reduce costs simply by hiring a position internally instead of outsourcing that role. Or you may have employees that are able to reduce inefficiencies, saving thousands of dollars per year.

Develop and Manage Talent

Your people are your most important asset, and the resource that will keep your business growing in challenging times. Hire the right people, put them in the right seat, and help them to grow personally and professionally — do those things well, and you’ll set your company up to handle any storm that comes your way.

Hire the right people

Don’t hire merely based on skill or experience, but prioritize Core Value fit above all other considerations. If you hire a rock-star salesperson who doesn’t fit your company’s Core Values, you’ll have people problems that keep your company from being its best.

Miller recommends staffing your liability. Be aware of the gaps in your organization. Where do you need to fortify your company? What’s missing from the mix?

At IDI, we invested heavily in technical personnel for years, because the nature of our product demanded it. When we began our revitalization in 2017, we realized that we needed creative professionals and people with soft skills. That’s when we started building out the Marketing and Account Management department.

Develop your people

Miller emphasizes treating employees well and developing them so they will want to stay. He says every employee wants three things:

  • A good boss
  • An opportunity to develop themselves
  • A lifestyle they love

Just as the pandemic started, IDI launched our online employee onboarding and development tool, IDI Academy. It has been a game changer in the way our people are equipped for their work, and it has been one of the cornerstones of our success in 2020.
Have quarterly performance reviews instead of annual (recommended by both EOS and Business Made Simple).

Eliminate Inefficiencies

Take a hard, honest look at your business operations and identify all the areas that have inefficiencies. It might be redundant processes, or a bottleneck in the workflow, or manual work that could be automated. Perhaps your systems aren’t integrated well and you’ve had to create workaround solutions.

Get clinical and remove every inefficiency you can find. Be ruthless about it, if you have to — many times, we cling to bad practices because they’re familiar.

Create automated workflows. Consolidate your tools so that the entire organization is using one tool. Make sure everyone has the visibility they need into your customers’ issues. Tech support should have the same information that sales has, and marketing should understand what sales and support know about your buyers.

Build Up Your Business in Challenging Times

You can build a strong foundation that is scalable as your business grows. For IDI, establishing a robust, repeatable plan in 2017 laid solid foundations for unprecedented business growth — even in the midst of a pandemic.

If you’re looking for a model to strengthen and grow your business during challenging times, we can’t recommend highly enough EOS and the principles in Business Made Simple.

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Topics: Non Industry-Specific Solutions