This is the year of uncertainty. The US has a new president who is sure to have an influence on the global economic scene. The UK is in the middle of their exit process from the EU and no one knows where it will lead. There are elections in Germany and France - which will have a massive impact on how the EU runs, and finally from the east, the news is that there are revised growth targets from China and Japan which will affect global growth forecasts.

Overall, be ready for lots of volatility and mixed messages from the markets. Not a crisis, but a rollercoaster of confidence.

What does this mean for a growth business? There is likely to be more scrutiny from investors and shareholders, it will be harder to get cash, and you will need to grow faster and better.

We have compiled 5 tips that will help you grow faster in 2017:

1 – Avoid the hiring pitfall at all costs.

Hiring is probably the worst thing a business can do in an uncertain environment. This could be for many different reasons:

  • When a resource is hired, the business loses track of how much tasks cost - I’m still yet to see young businesses carrying out internal cost allocation. Therefore the resource becomes an internal free-for-all. But it feels okay because the young business doesn’t get an invoice at the end of the month.

  • You will have one of something. And nothing of a lot of things. Can the resource do all the differnet things you need?

  • In uncertain times, talent bets their careers on safe havens (banking, big consulting, large blue chips). You will have more difficulty convincing talented people to join a young uncertain business and may have to pay a premium. Is it justified?

  • How will you and the resource know what great looks like? If a resource is talented, you could have them work in a team of peers where they can learn or lead – because both drive performance.

Instead of falling into the hiring pitfall, find alternative solutions that can help you allocate costs correctly. Get your internal employees to use their time wisely, focus on what really matters and think twice before requesting a service. This can be a network of freelancers or agencies (I’ll expand this topic in another post).

2 – Protect the culture. Avoid the yoyo.

Uncertain times may need young businesses to adjust costs and be very flexible.

Unfortunately, this means young businesess may need to let go of people. This can have a very dangerous effect on morale, prompting the usual downward spiral: you let go of the underperformers, the super-performers will go on to find work in a more stable business, and you’ll be left with average.

In times of uncertainty you must protect your culture at all costs and avoid negative propagation.

3 – Do a lot less. Much better.

With uncertainty, quality is even more important. Don’t let a “good enough” mentality install itself into the business.

Instead, look at your growth plans, marketing activity and budgets. Keep the budget and cut the activity in half. Do less, but do it like a rockstar. You will gain authority and credibility that drives business.

4 – Be a leader. Communicate it until you make it.

In uncertain times, people (and businesses) look for leaders. Not only will you build credibility and authority, you will lead by communicating and separating yourself (or getting closer) to your competition.

By influencing customers with content that inspires trust in your venture, you will generate better quality opportunities.

5 – Qualify everything. Dedicate effort only where you will win for sure.

With resources scarce, it’s even more important to only invest in the opportunities that are likely to close. Make sure the marketing engine is working like a charm on lead generation, scoring, nurturing and closing.

It’s easy to feel tempted by the “possibility of winning”. Forget about it. Only invest time and resource when you’re ten times ahead of your competitors. It will be a challenging year, but if your business keeps their head down and follows these rules, your chance of a year filled with business growth is much higher.

– Nuno Santos, Managing Director