Last month I covered two of the seven failures of business growth: #1 Failure to anticipate, and #2 Failure to communicate.

This month I would like to share some additional insights on the failures of business growth. When you know the failures to avoid and the strategies to combat them, you’ll be well on your way to creating an organization that continues to grow despite outside conditions.

The majority of people tend to cooperate, which is very different from collaborating. Even though we often use the word “collaborate,” we’re really just cooperating, which is a lower level function. Cooperating means, “The pie is only so big, and to make sure we both get our fair share, I won’t get in your way if you won’t get in mine. Maybe we’ll even work together…if we have to.” Such an approach produces results but certainly not outstanding results, because it’s based on a scarcity mentality. Collaboration, on the other hand, is based on abundance. It occurs when we put our heads together and ask ourselves, “How can we create a bigger pie for everyone?” That’s the secret to getting competitors to work with you and not against you. Remember that today’s technologies allow us to collaborate in new and amazing ways. Make sure you’re using them properly.

When asked what their last big innovation was, most companies have to go back five or ten years to cite something meaningful. Why? Because the majority of companies innovate once, come up with a great product or service, form a company around it, and then they let it ride. They don’t continue to innovate and create new products and services. Instead they spend a great deal of effort asking themselves how they can be more efficient…how they can do more with less…how they can reduce staff and overhead…how they can use technology better. Those are all good questions. However, you also want to ask yourself how you can use technology and your people to create new products and services that will increase the sales of your old products and services. The more time you devote to innovation, the more profitable and efficient you’ll ultimately be.

Some people say that a problem is an opportunity in disguise. Nonsense! A problem is a problem. A problem is only an opportunity before you have it. Realize that most of the problems our customers and our company experience are predictable. In today’s world of rapid change, if you ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the real opportunity. Why? Because your competitors are asking the same question, getting the same answer, and providing the same solution. Instead, you need to think a level higher and ask yourself and your customers, “What problems are we about to have?” Then you can develop new solutions based on the answers you receive. At that point, you can base your product development on your customer’s future problems and deliver the product or service right when the problem becomes a reality.

By implementing the strategies needed to overcome these business failures you can grow your business for years to come. Next month I will share the final two failures to avoid and the strategies to combat them.