Inadvertently Choosing to Stagnate


Jeff and Jim have been running the 12 year old family business since their father (the Founder) suddenly passed away. At first, they had steady growth.  They are in a specialized field, so Jeff and Jim have learned everything they can about product formulation and packaging, customer service and retention, vendor sourcing, quality assurance, and distribution channels. The gross revenue was up around $20 Mil when the financial industry imploded in late 2008. Their revenue dropped to $14 Mil/yr. by early 2009, bottomed out at $10 Mil/yr in early 2010 and has been hovering there ever since.

Jeff and Jim trimmed their top heavy organization and budget.  They upgraded technology and continue to make improvements to operational efficiency.  When they disagree or experience some tension, the topic has usually been about new customer acquisition.  One year they tried throwing money at banner advertising and the website.  Another year, they went back to their roots in direct mail and local radio advertising. Last year, they dabbled in social media, so they now know what is meant by tweeting, liking, blogging, and following. Their customer retention numbers have remained fairly consistent (which is good) but their new account acquisition numbers have remained the same (which isn’t so good).

They don’t really know if the company’s plateau is due to market saturation, inadequate execution of marketing campaigns, shifts in buying patterns or market preferences, or hidden competition.  Jeff and Jim have concluded that they know their product and their customers…so they don’t understand why their business isn’t growing.  Their concern now is that if they bring in a marketing/advertising firm to look at their situation, all that will result from that is an expensive proposal for the services that are provided by that firm. It feels like a bad game of Jeopardy® to them.  “The answer is our services…what was the question again?”  Their reluctance to be sold anything is keeping them from obtaining an objective assessment of their opportunities, resources, needs, strengths, etc.  Where is the risk if the strategic consultant who evaluates their needs doesn’t provide the marketing services that will probably be indicated to get Jeff and Jim’s company growing again? 

Staying at the current size invites Jeff and Jim’s employees to coast, get set in their ways, and resist innovation and change.  They are in growing industry, so Jeff and Jim are getting further behind each year they choose to remain stagnant. My guess: this company needs a real President.         

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST®. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieving accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search.  2013 is Ambler’s 9th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr.) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available at She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at            

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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Thank you for coaching us through the first year of planned growth and helping us achieve our first milestone. Your coaching, wisdom, experience and astute business acumen are deeply valued and appreciated.

Mary Clare Garber
Princeton Legal Search Group

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