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Prune your business to grow back stronger, more vibrant

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Every garderner knows – prune to grow.

But to the inexperienced, cutting back on what you have worked so hard to grow is difficult, to say the least.

The irony, of course, is cutting back allows the plant or tree to come back stronger and more vibrant than before, and in the shape you envisioned. Pruning leads to growth – the growth you envision.

Pruning the business leads to the same results. Removing employees who are eating up your culture, and eliminating unprofitable and undesirable customers, lead to profitable growth. Just like gardening, growing a business is a blend of science, art and practice.

Look to horticulture for guidance in how to prune your business.

“Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters the form and growth of a plant,” according to The University of Minnesota Horticulture Department. “ ... Pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance. Many problems may be prevented by pruning correctly.”

Sound familiar?

What would you “prune” in your business today to make it better tomorrow? Culture-eating employees? Nonprofitable customers or business segments?

Start by rating all of your team members for alignment to core values and productivity (getting their job done well).

Those that align with your core values and are “delivering the goods” are your “A” players. Your job is to keep them and coach the balance of the team to become “A” players.

Some will make it, some won't. Prune as necessary.

If you don't do this, your company's growth will stall, and eventually “A” players will depart – which is the beginning of the end.

Get clear on this – a primary role of the owner/CEO is to prune. The tree can't do it on its own.

Next, get crystal clear on your core customer – who is most likely to buy your product or service in the quantity required for optimal profit?

This cannot be emphasized enough. Such clarity likely will be a breakthrough in your business.

Once you get clear on your core customer, everything about growth becomes clear – where to focus your network, marketing, offering, pricing, dollars, energy and more.

“If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten,” said Tony Robbins, business coach and author.

What have you been putting up with because you've become comfortable with the status quo and satisfied with short-term success?

What's getting in the way that can be removed in order to shoot for growth and success?

If it's employees who deliver results but are creating a cultural mess, let them go. If you don't, the balance of your team is eventually going to leave, or worse, “quit and stay.”

If it's clients who drain you or or make you unprofitable, let them go to focus on the right customer – your core customer.

Every knowledgeable gardener knows that you need to prune your ground's bushes and trees if you want them to become healthy and lush. Similarly, astute business owners know they need to prune nonaligned employees and unprofitable customers if they want their business to grow and thrive.

You can effectively grow your business “garden” when you know where to prune the bushes and trees that represent your employees and customers.

By cutting or clipping here and there, and being deliberate about removing cancerous employees and unprofitable customers, you have a greater chance of surviving and even thriving in today's ever complex and more demanding marketplace.

Tom Garrity is managing partner of Compass Point Consulting LLC in Hanover Township, Northampton County. Compass Point and Legacy Planning Partners of South Whitehall Township will host family business expert and author Tom Deans at an owner readiness workshop 4-6 p.m. Nov. 9 at Saucon Valley Country Club, Upper Saucon Township. Deans will walk business owners through his transition blueprint which he has presented more than 500 times in 14 countries. To register, contact Garrity at 610-336-0514 or tgarrity@compasspt.com or visit www.compasspt.com.

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