Becoming a Growth Consultancy: How Getting Fired Changed Our Company

by Kathy Steele

We have been fired four times in our four-year company history. I can remember each time very vividly. Two were by phone, one was in the client’s conference room, and one was at a pricy dinner where I was picking up the check. What was disturbing is that I did not see them coming. Losing four customers might not seem significant, but a statement by one of our departing clients haunted me: he said he did not find value in our work together.

We could have placed blame on our former clients and, honestly, for a time our egos were bruised. But instead, we used the experiences to improve our organization and our offering.

First, we had to think about what was different with the clients who found value in our partnership and those who did not. It centered on three things.

1. Values Alignment

We talk a lot about core values at Red Caffeine. We hire, recognize and reward our team based on values. We also actively participate in an array of business groups like Small Giants, Executives Breakfast Club (EBC), The Junto Institute and Conscious Capitalism that share our belief in business ethics and keep us accountable for continually investing in our people. However, we were not always following these same guidelines with clients. In two of the cases, we knew in the beginning that it was not a great match, but moved forward anyway. Our values and these clients’ core values did not align, sabotaging the partnership before it began. However, our zest for new, exciting work overshadowed the warning signs. No more! If it smells rotten, it is rotten.

2. Leaders Willing to Embrace Change

People work with Red Caffeine because they want to grow their business. We realized that many people think they have what it takes but few dare to act. Our best relationships are with leaders who are willing and open to change. It takes an investment in people, process, and technology to evolve your business; if you are not willing to do that work, marketing is just putting lipstick on a pig. Also, we now recognize that change takes time and sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. An effective strategy has both short and long-term goals and evolving priorities. Sometimes we need to adjust our pace or pivot our plan to meet a client where they need us most.

3. Transparency

Major business events happen. You lose a large account, have to downsize staff, you make a poor capital investment, or you are struggling with operations - we need to know! Business is often unpredictable, and when events impact you financially or operationally, your communication plan should address it both internally and externally. Stories will get told; it's up to you to control how.

So What Is Growth Consultancy?

Growth Consultants assess a business using an external perspective and provide strategic insights, recommendations and a plan that clients can use to improve their company.

As we started to more deeply explore the client losses, we realized the trends extended beyond breakdowns in communications and expectations not being met. We found similar, distressing themes even though, from the outside, these companies look like they have achieved measured success.

These organization lacked:

  • A documented strategic vision
  • Written and practiced values
  • Competitive talent strategy that included recruitment, engagement and retention
  • Strong market positioning
  • Defined and realistic sales goals
  • Sales processes and team accountability
  • CRM or sales tracking
  • Modern technology or a technology plan to optimize efficiencies

The issues touched every area of a company from sales and operations to HR and finance. These are challenges we have experienced ourselves and continue to adapt to as our business evolves. We realized these are problems we knew how to solve and, indeed, we are solving them every day for our clients and ourselves.

And this is where it gets very exciting ...

Getting fired changed our company. It instigated our reflection and, ultimately, our revelation that we could provide solutions to the above challenges as services. By helping clients align internally, they are prepared to support external marketing communication and lead generation.

We know strategic growth isn’t easy and presents many challenges without quick fixes. But at times, a partner like Red Caffeine is essential to move forward and evolve. We expect to be questioned by our clients about the value we bring, but we have the expertise and the insight to deliver and exceed expectations on that value - provided it’s realistic.

We help our clients build a company that customers want to work with and employees want to work for. For the bold who embrace change and transparency, we can co-create and execute a plan for sustainable growth! That’s a growth consultancy. That’s what we do at Red Caffeine.

Learn more about the areas we impact or connect with me here if you want to chat about growing your business.