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Identify the Growth Factors

In "The Incredible Hulk", mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner discovered that when he was exposed to "gamma rays" he was transformed into a massive beast that could ferociously muscle his way to victory in any situation. Other than being disfigured, green, and in nothing but his boxer shorts, the Hulk discovered that a single growth factor could drastically change his ability to handle his problems.

Unfortunately, gamma radiation is in short supply at most startups, so entrepreneurs need to find their own "growth factors" to make their businesses huge. The growth factors of your business are the key drivers that, if tweaked properly, can give your company the boost it needs to grow faster and stronger.

Get your gamma ray on

Chances are you already have an idea what the growth factors in your business are, but aren't yet isolating them like you should be. For example, if minimizing the cost of acquiring a customer is critical to your growth strategy, it's a growth factor. If converting a certain number of visitors at your Web site to convert to actual sales makes huge differences in your financial model, it's a growth factor. And if buying supplies cheaper and reducing your cost of goods sold enhances your ability to go to market, it's a growth factor. Your business is filled with growth factors just waiting to be discovered.

It's important to note, however, that a growth factor is the cause of an outcome, not the outcome itself. For example, "making more money" isn't a growth factor, it's the outcome of growth factors like converting more sales leads or reducing operational expenses.

If you don't know right now what the top three key drivers of your business are, it's probably a good time to start defining them and burning them into your brain. Most companies succeed or fail based on just a few growth factors, so identifying them early is extremely important.

Focus, grasshopper

Knowing your growth factors is just the beginning. Once you realize what elements of your business drive the growth and overall success of your business, the next step is putting as much of your time and energy as possible into focusing on those opportunities.

"Most entrepreneurs have very limited resources and their time is critical" says Kelly Perdew, winner of " The Apprentice". "I've found that there are vital areas of every business that need the Founder's direct attention the most and that you will get the most value from spending your time there."

It's easy to get distracted from driving your growth factors when you're busy finding office space, hiring staff, and addressing all the problems of a growing corporate culture. Keep in mind that while these duties are necessary, they aren't necessarily doing an effective job driving the company forward. It's a matter of priorities and your growth factors should be at the top of your "to do" list every day.

If it's not core to the business, outsource it

Outsourcing isn't just for large companies. It's also for startups who need to focus on their growth factors.

Kelly adds "It is important to know what you do well and what you don't do well. Surround yourself with people who are experts at what they do and can augment your capabilities. If it isn't one of the critical aspects of your business have an expert take care of it. Software development, accounting, HR, legal and many other aspects of your business take up a significant amount of time and don't add significantly to your growth. Outsourcing firms are experts at what they do, can scale to meet your needs, and free you up to do the things you should be doing. Use them!"

Promote the growth factors

If you find it personally difficult to stay focused on the growth factors of the business, it will be nearly impossible for the rest of your team to stay focused, especially if they don't know what the growth factors are.

Take advantage of every opportunity to promote the growth factors of your business and how important they are to your success. Make them as ubiquitous in the company as possible, from the CFO to the receptionist. Post them atop every meeting agenda, on everyone's mouse pad, at the bottom of every company memorandum and even on people's paychecks if you don't think you're getting through to them.

"Look! I'm changing?"

Once you've begun to put focus on the growth factors, you may sense a change in the way things look. All of a sudden you're getting strong and faster, and things feel like they are coming together for once. Don't fret, you're not about to turn into a savage building-bashing beast! The only green you should be seeing is in your bank account!

Wil Schroter is a serial entrepreneur, author, and public speaker. Wil has been recognized as U.S. Small Business Person of the Year, twice as the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (1999 & 2004), and is a member of the Business First Top 40 under forty. Connect directly with Wil at wschroter@yahoo.com. Visit http://www.goBIGnetwork.com.

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