Step Up to Grow

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

As an experienced business owner, you know when it is time to take the next step. You may be ambitious, dedicated, and blessed, but you aren't satisfied. Opportunities or painful challenges may lie ahead. Whatever the circumstances, you want to grow your business. You're just not sure of your options.

Fortunately, there is a simple formula to move ahead. Depending on how you and your firm's stand on six criteria, you can quickly decide how to move forward. Think about you and your business in terms of your:

  • Passion
  • Cash
  • Ability
  • Pain
  • Opportunity
  • Best and Highest Use® (BHU).

By understanding the above, you can determine which step you should take:

  1. Sell your business and secure any profits.
  2. Giving back to grow the remainder.
  3. Refocus your business to grow.
  4. Grow your business through succession or transition.
  5. Accelerate your existing growth.
  6. Buy another business to expand your business' growth.

Consider your resources of cash, passion, and ability. Are they in balance and returning desirable results? If so, you have abundant opportunity to grow your company in line with its Best and Highest Use. If not, you are facing more pain than opportunity, and you need help to determine what to do next.

Let's envision this continuum as a staircase with six steps:

  1. Sell Your Business and Secure Any Profits. You may have cash and ability but your passion is gone and you may be in pain. You aren't having fun anymore, you feel drained, and your dissatisfaction has begun to (or will soon) trickle down throughout the rest of you company. You feel too old, too tired, and too hesitant to invest any more of yourself in a business you don't love; it's time to look for a buyer, cash out, and let go.
  2. Giving Back to Grow the Remainder. Your heart and head are in the game, but your business is trending painfully downward. You have lots of passion but the company needs more cash and ability. This is called turnaround or workout. Creditors are itchy and even ready to step in and make decisions for you. You still can grow, but at a high cost, such as pledging your house for a cash infusion. Your situation close to that of a corporation in Chapter 11. Like United Airlines, you're still in business, but you must undergo radical restructuring to fly.
  3. Refocus Your Business to Grow. On this step, you still face more pain than opportunity. You still have passion, but your BHU is misapplied. You have enough cash flow or retained earnings to invest in turning the business around, but you can't waste resources trying things that may not work. You want to stop working so hard for so little. You need new ability to focus on the right tactics and strategies toward growth.
  4. Grow Your Business Through Succession Or Transition. Your business is healthy in terms of cash and passion, but ongoing succession or transition issues are painful and distracting. You know have greater opportunity; and your BHU is not maximized in growing your business. Are customers and prospects buying all they can? What you need is a specialized ability to preserve the character of your business while benefiting from an infusion of new ideas, thus ensuring that the new leadership is positioned to grow the business rather than simply maintaining it—or letting it shrink.
  5. Accelerate Your Existing Growth. Your cash and passion are plentiful and your growth is OK but not great. Opportunity abounds. Now is the time to stimulate your thinking and execute strategies to grow your company beyond its status quo. With new ability, you can refine your BHU to exploit changes in your marketplace, achieve market leadership, set your own prices, and define your competition on your own terms.
  6. Buy Another Business To Expand Your Business' Growth. Your passion, cash, and ability are driving your success but you feel hemmed in by your own four walls. It's time for a more challenge. Expand your company through a merger or acquisition, but make sure both companies are stable and compatible with respect to BHU. Productive mergers marry two healthy companies; otherwise, the “sick” company tends to pull the other down. (Think AOL-Time Warner.)

If you don't standing still, you can step up to the next level. If you plan to sell your company or acquire another business, find someone who can value your business and manage the details. Otherwise, bring in someone whose ability you need to save, transition, or expand your business. An objective assessment and outside expertise can help you make sense of that smell of change that's in the air … and focus you on the next crucial step toward growth.

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at  (412) 973-2080, by email at, or on the web at

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