Why Companies Don’t Grow

Have you ever wondered how two small companies could begin at the same time in a garage or small shopping center and one becomes a billion-dollar enterprise while the other struggles? Have you ever thought about what might detour the success of one and not the other? I would like to share my personal observation after working with companies large and small ­- there are three major differences.

Responsibility without Authority

When a company employs people who have the ability to take them from one level to the next, those people must be given the authority to create the environment for that growth. Imagine that a company is like a baseball team. The team manager brings a new pitcher to the mound with the bases loaded. He walks out to the mound and says to his new pitcher, “Don’t strike out the next batter, and don’t walk him.” Then he walks back to the dugout. That is a company that will stay small.

Great talent without authority will never get the job done. I have a brilliant friend who was brought into a multi-million dollar business to inject new life and to re-position the company. However, after he was hired, the owners would not allow him the authority to get the job done. So naturally he stepped down, and he is now the CEO of that company’s direct competitor. The company he joined recognized his talent and gave him the “keys” to move forward. I have told many CEOs: either learn how to utilize your talent or be prepared to see them across the table as competitors.


How many times can you go around a bush before the bush dies? Small companies will meet a tipping point in their business when they have to “let go” of the command and control system they started with. As a company grows, the competition begins to notice them, and when that happens, the competitor will either replicate what they see or move in on the clients and customers of that successful company.

Speed is critical today! Several years ago a company could create a new idea and have about 12 to 18 months before someone would copy the idea and often improve upon it. Today, in only 45 to 60 days before another company steals that great idea and puts it back on the market in a new package. This creates the need for a high level of response from creation to implementation. If an owner or CEO requires everything to pass his/her desk, that is not a problem; there is a problem if that person spends days or weeks reworking every idea or product.

The majority of items that get caught in micro-management have little merit in the overall release of a product or idea. It is much better to make changes while you are moving than to delay moving forward until changes are made. I believe that the execution of a product or marketing strategy is far more important than the product itself. Delays create lost momentum.

The Wrong People in the Seats

Companies don’t grow if the team is placed in the wrong positions. Think of your company as a bus, and be sure the right people are in the correct seats. Several years ago, a large corporation retained me to assist in their management training. I used a “reverse evaluation” to determine how the management team was observed by those they were leading. It was amazing to discover that the head of customer service had very few (if any) people skills or communication skills. He scored high in IT, so I quickly recommended he be moved to computer security where he did very well.

In the same company, the child of an owner occupied a leadership “seat,” and she had no leadership skills. She was negative, continually created division within the company, and walked around with an entitlement mentality. I suggested another position for the daughter, and fortunately the owners relented. The daughter has since been groomed in leadership skills and people skills, and she has now earned her position within the company.

These three “detours” can produce disastrous results for a small company trying to become larger. Business moves quicker today, so learn how to succeed in business or be prepared to manage chaos.

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