05.27.20162 min read

How to Grow: Focus or Expand?

I spent some time this week with a group of stage four and stage five business owners ($1–$10 million in annual sales). We were in our Elite Mastermind group discussing the growth challenges companies face during these stages. 

I love these meetings because I see familiar patterns and problems that face so many businesses. One such problem is the dilemma to grow by expanding or focusing. Here’s what it looks like:

“I have an opportunity to start a new product/division/location that will help us grow X percent over the next three years, but I’m not sure if I should do it because it might distract us from our primary business. Should I expand or just focus?”

First of all, it’s important to note that “focus to grow” is a viable option. In fact, it’s my preferred option. I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs pursue a new product, division, or location only to miss their expansion goals AND see their primary business suffer. So, I lean toward “focus to grow” unless two criteria are satisfied: 

  • The new opportunity is aligned to your core—your purpose, mission, and strengths. If that’s the case, move to criteria No. 2.
  • You have people who are strong and eager to lead the new opportunity without weakening your primary business.

If both of those criteria are satisfied, go for it. If not, focus to grow.

SBS Idea of the Day: Most of the time, business expansion opportunities are impractical or unsuccessful because we lack the leadership bench to execute on the opportunity. Always be growing your people. Assess your leadership bench every quarter to determine whether you have the people to lead exciting new opportunities.

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