When you’re growing a business, things can get complicated—fast.

Trying to differentiate yourself in the market. Determining if you have the right people in your organization. And figuring out where you’re going to get the cash to support all this expansion.

As you and your team work to solve these problems, there’s a tendency to put in more work than is needed: to add extra complexity to already complex issues.

But what if you had a way to get clear on the issues at hand and easily identify the solution—without getting caught in the wake of your own head trash?

Enter the guiding principles of GROWTH. Every system is built upon a set of fundamental beliefs about how the world works.

When it comes to running a business, we think we’ve cracked the code on some universal truths that help companies grow.

Guiding Principles for Growing a Business

Here are five guiding principles for committing your company to growth:

Keep it simple. Follow Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is usually the right one. 

Emotions make us overcomplicate things. Whether it’s cutting a service line, raising prices, firing an employee, or building a brand strategy, we can talk ourselves into circles. And that leads to inaction. 

Stay as simple as possible—in all things. In the business model itself. In the structure of your company. In the processes you design. In your messaging. Everywhere.

Note that sometimes the simplest version of a solution still has a great deal of complexity. Look for answers that are as simple as they can be, but not simpler than they need to be.

90% is people. Getting the right people on your team can make or break your company.

People are (nearly) everything. But before it’s about the individual, it’s about the roles you need those people to play. Put the structure of the company first. Ask “What does the business need next?” Then find the person who can do that thing.

People are happiest and most productive when they are working in their zone of genius—the thing they excel at that they also love. Get people doing what they do best—and support them with everything else—and they’ll perform better and stay longer. 

And finally, keep looking ahead to what people you’ll need to bring on in the future. Map out not only the current state of the company but what—and who—you anticipate needing 1, 3, and 5 years from now.

Hit your numbers. If you aren’t reaching your goals, it’s not going well.

A business that feels like it’s running well but is missing its numbers is not, in fact, a well-run business. 

Unless you don’t care about making money as a business owner, everything comes down to getting those numbers right and hitting them on a consistent basis. That’s why your numeric objectives are just as important as any other goals you set for the quarter or the year.

Document everything. If you need to create a new solution, only do it once.

Businesses with weak operations typically lack consistent, repeatable processes. That creates massive inefficiencies, and at scale, can lead to gaps in delivery and poor customer service.

The fix? Get in the habit of identifying all processes in your company (even the simple, 2-3 step ones) and document them in real time. 

Continually iterate and evolve those processes as necessary. Think high level bullet points instead of in-depth standard operating procedures. That makes updating them much, much easier.

Make sure everyone knows who owns the process. Each process should be assigned to one individual (or really, that person’s role) even if multiple people are involved.

Obsessively train your processes until muscle memory is achieved. Set your expectations correctly. You’ll need to train every process about 7 times before your team starts using it of their own accord.

Is there a way to make process documentation not annoying? Only sort of. Ultimately, you’re trading short term inconvenience for long term consistency. Just do it!

Remember what matters most. At the end of the day, here’s what counts.

When it comes down to it, there are three things that matter most:

  • That your customers absolutely love you
  • That your people love working at your company
  • That the business makes money

Keep those things in mind as you make your decisions, and the rest of it will come together. 

Every system starts with some fundamental assumptions; these are ours. When you’re problem-solving in your company, revisit these principles to help you find the right solution.

How to Actually Use Your Guiding Principles

Wondering how to put these principles into practice? Good question. These ideas aren’t helpful unless you use them on a regular basis inside your business.

The best time to call in this toolkit of catchphrases is anytime you’re feeling stuck:

When you don’t know how to solve the problem…

When you aren’t sure what to do next…

When you feel things getting too complicated and spinning out of control…

Take a deep breath. And then remember:

  • Keep it simple
  • 90% is people
  • Hit your numbers
  • Document everything
  • Remember what matters most

During team meetings, planning sessions, or even on your own. Let yourself be guided by these few simple ideas. You’ll be surprised how helpful they can be to cut through the noise and realign you to what matters most.

Found these principles useful? Us too. That’s why they’re baked into the way we do business. Learn more about our approach to growing your company.