The 3 most common business growth errors that must be corrected early

Feb 1, 2011

Yesterday we looked at how correcting fundamental strategic errors early in the year helps you avoid the law of compounded business growth loss and turn in a dramatically better annual performance.How can I say with certainty that I know you’ve made an expensive strategic business growth mistake this early in the year? Two reasons:

1. An old parlor trick: You likely wouldn’t have read this far in the post if you didn’t having a sneaking suspicion that yes, you’ve made at least one potentially expensive early blunder in your business growth strategy; and

2. When I get calls from CEO’s and senior business execs – usually around April / May – who want help with mid-course correction in their business growth strategy, I hear the same thing over and over again: “I actually knew this wasn’t working right way back in January. I wish I’d followed my instincts and done something about it then.

Here are the three areas where I see founder/owners, CEO’s and senior business execs most frequently stumble out of the gate in executing their business growth strategy – and fail to correct it soon enough:

A bad hire

Otherwise entirely rational execs routinely recoil from acting early on expensive new hires gone wrong. It’s by far the most common early strategic error that is recognized by senior managers, but not acted on until way too late. By the time most bad hires are purged, a lot of cultural and performance damage has typically been inflicted on the organization – including a weakening of the leader’s credibility in the eyes of her team, who knew way ahead of her that a mistake had been made.

Why do leaders do this? Because the hire is expensive, the opportunity cost of failure is high, there’s a lot of sunk cost in the relationship-building that led up to the hire, the leader’s own judgment is at stake, there’s another person involved, the steps needed to unravel the hire are icky, and the thought of having to go through the whole process again is daunting to say the least.

Nonetheless, if you want to hit your goals this year, and you know you’ve made a strategic hiring error, now is the time to deal with it, not mid-year.

A failed product launch

This failure pattern is a bit like watching someone give CPR to a corpse (a gruesome metaphor, I know – but accurate). All the bystanders know that the subject is dead, but the boss insists on either trying repeatedly to resuscitate it, or whistling nonchalantly while stepping round the corpse, hoping to give the impression that it will soon rise up and walk despite all available evidence to the contrary.

A squirelly alignment or association

Toward the end of last year you talked yourself into doing a joint venture with someone, or you found a new supplier, or you hired a new PR agency, or you outsourced your call center – whatever. And now, just weeks into the new year, you know it was a ghastly strategic mistake.

Same deal – act now and you cut your losses, or act later and get hammered by the law of compounding business growth loss.

In the next in this series I’ll help you decide whether you really have made a strategic error that need fixed immediately, or whether you’re just harboring natural doubts that don’t require dramatic action just yet.