Growth isn't always the answer

Jo Francis has an alternative take on growth.

Listening to Prime Minister Liz Truss (PM at the time of typing, at least) bang on about “growth growth growth” – as if repeating something often enough will magically make it true, when clearly it won’t – was from my perspective quite a depressing experience.

Thinking about it subsequently, it did also make me wonder whether some printers would actually be quite happy – and indeed better off – if they opted to become part of the so-called Anti-Growth Coalition?

I am minded of one print boss who explained how he had to, understandably, shrink his business because of the pandemic.

It’s still a multi-million pound turnover company, just not quite as many multi-millions.

The thing is, he’s much happier as a result. Not constantly chasing a very challenging sales target in order to keep all the plates spinning. Smaller, more focused, less stressed, and – wait for it – actually more profitable. And much happier.

Another contact has deliberately opted for what might be described as an anti-growth approach when it comes to large, ostensibly prestigious, customers.

Why? Because they’re mostly a nightmare. They treat his company badly, never uphold their own side of the SLAs that are apparently so important for the PSP to meet, and everything that goes wrong because of that is always, you guessed it, the printco’s fault.

A much better and happier strategy is to work with, say, five smaller and – klaxon! – actually more profitable customers who also manage to be nice people to deal with.

On my recent visit to Micropress, Printweek’s Company of the Year, it was uplifting to hear director Rob Cross speak to the assembled customers about how important it is for the company to be profitable. YES!

Micropress also has plans to grow, but that’s not the firm’s most important measure of success. Doing business in a sustainable, profitable way is.

Maybe anti-growth is actually the way forward?

A hat-tip must go to the lovely folk at Balcony Shirts in Uxbridge, who swiftly turned Truss’s Anti-Growth Coalition comment into a best-selling t-shirt design that’s flying off the shelves.