If you have a goal of dramatically growing your business, you’ve probably asked yourself how you can do that in an age when technology and customer expectations can change so quickly.
At the core of “Fearless Growth,” a book by strategy consultant Amanda Setili, is the notion that the imperative response to a fast-changing business environment is moving quickly and without fear, by acting now, investing in new lines of business that will drive your company’s future growth.
There’s a natural tension between doing what you’re already doing well and striking out into a new direction. Setili acknowledges that it’s normal to experience fear when your business could be disrupted, or when you can’t control or predict your business environment. She says the fear is unnecessary and outlines seven new rules for growing a business without fear.
Setili, president of strategy consulting firm Setili & Associates, has as her first new rule the idea that a business should embrace uncertainty. That can be difficult, because as people, it’s in our DNA to dislike uncertainty, she points out. But this very natural fear is the most formidable barrier to speed, and your business needs speed to capitalize on changing market conditions. Companies that respond more quickly and surprisingly have a greater advantage and can use that for more growth.
When making decisions quickly, it’s also easy to make mistakes, Setili points out. You could fall victim to confirmation bias, to draw the wrong conclusion when working with limited data, to risk a large loss to avoid a small loss, to choose a small, safe gain rather than a higher, but less certain gain, or any other number of errors that can get in the way of growth.
How can a business develop an effective strategy for growth in uncertain business environments? Setili recommends learning from the film industry. They place multiple bets, they replicate the ones that are successful through sequels, and they seek to serve specific niches, among other practices.
Using examples from her consulting practice, Setili explains how companies have thrived in the face of dramatic, unexpected change.
In one example, a company noticed that sales in one of its regions dropped significantly in a two-month period. The business learned that a competitor was offering same-day delivery in the market, causing some of the firm’s best customers to switch. Their response: find products that could be reliably delivered within two hours using company vehicles. The competitor, which was using outside firms to deliver the products, couldn’t keep up, and the business saw its sales increase past their previous level.
Setili spends a chapter discussing each of her seven new rules, the remainder of which I won’t give away here. (Trust me, this is a worthwhile read.) Each chapter has examples of how organizations have grown their businesses.
Setili also provides a guide for how to implement fearless growth in your own organization, using Amazon’s example of valuing calculated, quick risk-taking rather than in-depth study, especially because many actions can be undone.
Changing your business to be ready for Setili’s vision of fearless growth probably won’t happen overnight. In fact, she recommends a strategic focus on one or two business units and one or two of the rules rather than imposing all seven of the rules all at once.
Whether your business is small, large, or somewhere in between, “Fearless Growth” will give you a chance to reflect on how ready your organization is to take the risks necessary for serious, rapid growth.
The New Rules to Stay Competitive, Foster Innovation, and Dominate Your Markets
By Amanda Setili
Career Press. 256 pages. $17.99