how_to_avoid_a_stagnant_companyExactDrive was recently interviewed by StartupNation, a premiere source of information and resources for small business owners looking to start or grow their business.

Startups, like any business, cycle between periods of stagnation and growth. At times, everything goes according to plan, and the only thing left to do is focus on maintaining consistency and scaling your services. Other times, for one reason or another, company growth stagnates and the team as a whole must focus on retention and figure out how to jump start the growth cycle again.

Though these stagnations are certainly frustrating, they are an important part of any startup’s lifecycle as they provide an opportunity to reflect on what you as a company need to do to better your services. We spoke to 10 founders at different stages in their careers and asked what actions companies should take during periods of stagnated growth. Here’s what they had to say.

stagnant company

1. Encourage Honesty

This is where I like to encourage everyone to be open and honest and share their ideas. It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds which often disables everyone from seeing the big picture. Stop, take a step back and share knowledge. Think your way out of the stagnation as a team with an open mind.

~Mark Volkmann, Massagebook

2. Disrupt

I think its important for the team to figure out what can we do today that will disrupt our offerings and/or our business model?

~Marlon Williams, Fenero

3. Question Your Approach

What else could we be doing to succeed? Where do we need to pivot? Where do we need to invest? What should we divest? How can we leverage our existing client base better? There’s no single question or answer here.

~David Wachs, Handwrytten

4. Reduce Costs

If you’re a fast growing and growth stagnates then you need to be sounding the alarm bells. Why? A fast growing business is geared up for that growth with typically no free cash flow and even negative cash flow, so if growth continues to stagnate, or even start to retreat, then you could easily find yourself out of business. With this in mind, the very first step you need to take is focus on the low-hanging fruit to reduce costs, increase margins and shorten the sales cycle. For example, sending out invoices the very same day you deliver on your service or product can bring much needed cash in the door weeks earlier.”

~Daniel Barnett, Worketc

6. Don’t Over-focus on Side Projects

Stagnation often occurs when staff are involved in intensive projects because the companies attention if fully focused on delivery of a product or service. We’ve witnessed this occur several times over the last couple of years within our telecoms business. We now always ensure time is dedicated to business growth even during intensive projects.

~Robert Sturt, MPLS Procurement Specialist

7. Ask Why?”

Sounds obvious but I think the most important question to ask is “why?” Is it because the product concept is flawed and you’ve built a castle on shaky foundations? Or is it because a few elements of the product are blocking growth? Or is the messaging flawed? Those are three common obstacles and diagnosing the issue is partly intuitive and partly data driven.

~Cameron Mclain, ChallengeMe

8. Balance

Are we focusing too much on innovative short-term goals rather than strategic long-term outcomes? Experience has taught me that if you focus on short-terms goals too heavily that the immediate outcome can be positive in terms of revenue or new client acquisition but long-term steady growth can become stagnate. A proper balancing act can generate the ideal overall outcome.

~Tim Nichols, ExactDrive

9. Focus Massive Transformative Purpose

To combat stagnation, I challenge myself, my team, and the company regularly with one question: are we each doing everything we can to achieve the ‘massive transformative purpose’ (MTP) of our company? At Rokk3r Labs, the MTP is to harness global collective genius to transform companies that change the world. MTP is part of the ‘Exponential Organizations’ philosophy for companies. Reconnecting to the company’s MTP is the best weapon to combat stagnation.

~Aurelia Crews, Rokk3r Labs

10. Figure Out How to Keep Scaling

What can we build or what can do so we can go faster? I like to keep the pedal down, so this is not a huge issue for us. Full Throttle!

~Jim Alvarez, AuctionsByCellular

Topics: Company News, Interviews, Startups, Strategies, Stagnate Company Growth, StartupNation

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN and Milwaukee, WI.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.