Obsolete Business Proverbs #3 – “Grow or Die”

Allow me to cordially introduce you all to the third and penultimate obsolete business proverb in our little series. “Grow or die” is a strikingly straightforward maxim to comprehend, regardless of the field of business you are active in- essentially attributing healthy growth in a commercial and financial sense directly to the survival odds of a for-profit organisation.

Problematic in the sense that it infers a business is either growing or slowly dying on its feet, proverb number three has been extracted for abolition on the grounds that it spreads the (further) fraudulent notion that the only mark of success for an organisation is the amount of growth it notes per quarter/half/year. Whilst being very much the only truth in the world of the cut-throat profiteers who dominated the world commerce of yesteryear, “grow or die” has (thankfully) become severely out of touch within the modern business setting.

An Automatic Good?

Of course, growth and development are naturally seen as sure signs of progress in most areas of human endeavour. However, the perception that all growth within a business is automatically good is not only ultimately responsible for the advent of the ‘grow or die’ proverb itself, but for its demise.

Though growth always carries with it an array of engrossing positive effects, creating new possibilities and challenges for a group and its representatives, my point is that it is far from being the only sign of a business’s success. The simple fact of the matter is that growth isn’t always the right course of progress for all businesses at all times. Sometimes a business will be better off spending a little time merely consolidating what they already have. A lack of growth; or even a shrinking of size doesn’t necessarily mean a business is condemned!

No Direct Correlation

Everybody who runs a business loves to see their brainchild develop at pace. Nothing is as affirming as growth in the business context; though in reality many start-ups, and for that matter many big businesses struggling in the current climate, doom themselves by overstretching resources at the wrong time, or before they are ready.

The sustainability of growth is an extremely delicate thing. That’s why so many mid-sized organisations that refuse to get ahead of themselves will in due time be far more likely to realise their goals, whilst their big-shot peers who go at it too hard and fast eventually wind up imploding, or worse yet- exploding!

Organic Growth > Credited Growth

The means used to grow a business must also be taken into consideration here. For instance, if business ‘a’ and business ‘b’ are competitors in the same field; and ‘a’ takes a loan of £100,000, gets ahead of the game, though spends the five years it takes ‘b’ to catch up in terms of market share paying back creditors- who’s really won?

Fast growth made possible by borrowed money isn’t really valid growth at all, and with the current state of things- it would be extremely careless of us to let a proverb such as ‘grow or die’ dictate the perceptions of the next generation of business men and women. As for a fresh epigram, how about “grow when you have to grow”.