When we think about growing, we think about adding. It’s intuitive because the result of growth is more capacity or capability to do something. However, the path to growth often includes subtraction.

For example:

  • If you remove service offerings you can increase perceived relevance to a subset of customers that you become more efficient at serving at a higher profit.
  • Firing a customer that is expensive to service frees up existing resources to deliver value to more customers.
  • If you have an employee in a role that you don’t need, letting them go can free up cash to hire someone in a role that you do need.

Your business is a system that transforms resources and energy into value. The components of that system don’t just produce, they also cost. Often, there are parts of our operation that actually cost more than they produce- a net negative resource or pattern. But because we don’t think about causes until we experience pain, they can pass by unnoticed. This is a hidden tax on growth.

You could do a detailed breakdown of your systems and what the net value being produced is. But I bet you already know on some level where the worst offenders are. The question is: is there someone or something creating significant drag on the business?

Everything casts a shadow, even in the dark.

See also: The Iceberg Fallacy

Image credit: moonlight shadow used under CCO 1.0 Public Domain