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Growth And Scaling….

by David Brock on July 22nd, 2022

Our business and sales conversations are filled with the words growth and scaling. On the surface, they may seem the same, both focus on getting more revenue.

We, often, tend to use these terms interchangeably. But they are very different, at best scaling might be viewed as a subset of growth.

So what’s the difference?

Scaling is simply doing more of what we already do. For example, if we double the number of sellers, we might expect to double revenue. Scaling can be a good strategy, but, as we’ve seen, it has limitations.

The implicit thinking around scaling is the math, do twice as much, expect a result that is twice as much. But over time, doing twice as much produces less than we expect. Doubling emails, prospecting calls, scaling our outreach efforts, don’t drive the expected results, they drive less than we expected, and less, and less.

How does this happen?

Implicit in scaling strategies is things don’t change. The customers will always respond in the same proportions, their needs don’t change, competition doesn’t change, markets don’t change, priorities don’t shift. By doing more, perhaps by doing it more rapidly, we can drive better results.

But we know change is constant. What worked in the past is no longer as effective–in the face of constant change, scaling becomes less effective. Stated differently, a strategy focused strictly on scaling is never sustainable over the long term. At some point organizations focused exclusively on scaling hit a wall, either failing or being forced to change–to drive growth.

Growth is different. Growth forces us to consider, “What has changed, what might we do differently?” Strategies focused on growth rapidly identify shifts in markets, needs, competition. They enable us to identify new opportunities, new markets, new ways of growing.

They force us to consider different ways of doing things. “What if we took a different approach to the market? What if we shifted our ‘go to customer strategies?’ What is changing with our customer/competitors, how do we respond to and exploit those changes? What are we missing?”

A growth focus forces us to innovate. Scaling focuses on the status quo.

Growth strategies enable us to address the issues, “How do we get more out of what we are currently investing? How do we leverage our resources more effectively? How do we improve productivity?”

Growth strategies, as with any change initiative, have risks. We may have implemented the wrong strategy, we may not get the results we expected, we may have to adjust and change.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to leverage opportunities to scale and growth strategies. But we have to do both, but we have to recognize the limitations of a strategy focused primarily on scaling. If we want to grow, if we want to sustain growth, if we want to address new opportunities or respond to new challenges, we have to focus on growth strategies.

Afterword: Thanks to Scott Gillum and Howard Dover for provoking my thinking on the differences in growth and scaling.

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