The severe downturn led to all sorts of steps toward business contraction, such as reducing the number of locations, discontinuing product lines, cutting hours and so forth. As the downturn took its toll, this type of cost cutting helped companies weather the storm of disappearing revenue. Unfortunately, however, it also led many to question the merits of growth.
Yet, growth has been the impetus behind successful, profitable enterprise. And, unlike the speculative excesses--which occurred recently and always appear at times--the successful, profitable, ongoing enterprises are key drivers of sustained prosperity. Thus, growth is crucial for prosperity, so companies should never lose sight of its value, even during downturns.
That's why it's unfortunate if all the cost cutting and contraction encourages an anti-growth philosophy. And, while some curtailing of growth may be necessary during severe recessions, contraction and cost cutting should always be viewed with the proper perspective.
This means the recent widespread contraction is not a reason to think growth just doesn't work. It is not a reason to see growth as requiring major investments that won't pay off and often merely fund what will ultimately be shut down. Instead, to contribute to prosperity on a more ongoing basis, companies should strive for growth, but be strategic about pursuing the right opportunities. They should think hard about which opportunities truly suit them and offer the best potential.
Growth that happens strictly for the sake of pursuing growth often has disappointing results, can be highly vulnerable during downturns, and can easily lead to situations that must be shut down when the going gets tough. In fact, a lot of what was shuttered during the recent downturn represented growth that either had been excessive and not well thought out, growth that happened too quickly, or growth so ill-fitting that it had to be shut down to get back to basics.
On the other hand, companies that made "Winning Moves" by pursuing opportunities with good fit, with the right level of risk, and with other factors related to success may need fewer cutbacks and/or be better able to thrive if the economy improves. And, while the recent harsh economy meant even well run businesses were not untouched by cut backs, companies with a track record of weaker strategic moves are often hit especially hard. Furthermore, although prosperous growth is punctuated with cyclical downturns, businesses that concentrated upon building ongoing enterprises, not upon speculation, and did so with wise moves that adhered to the patterns of success, have historically been major, and more sustained, contributors to prosperity.
Sometimes, companies find it challenging to determine what growth opportunities are best. But, even with the downturn, success patterns serve as a helpful guide for making wise choices. Thus, there is no reason to lose faith in growth. Although accommodations for current conditions may be necessary, growth that is steered by business success patterns can play a vital role in driving prosperity.
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