To my knowledge, there is no official award for strategic mis-steps. (Perhaps there should be something like an Emmy for Business Blunders.) But if there were such a contest, I now know what I'd nominate first. And, I believe I might have some support for my nomination.

I've just been working on the write up of our forthcoming study on obtaining a premium valuation for your professional service firm. This national survey asked both acquirers of professional service firms and valuation experts about the factors that tend to drive the highest valuations.

Of course a track record of growth in revenue and profitability is important. But here is where the strategic blunder tends to show itself. (Ironically, it's a mistake that arises out of success, not failure.)

As a firm is successful, it attracts more and more opportunities. The problem arises when a firm starts to chase growth for growth's sake: The business is there. The client is asking for your help. And you could do it — even though it falls outside your core expertise and market positioning. It might even be profitable. Do you go for it?

It's tempting, I know. But here's the problem. Chasing growth for growth's sake inevitably takes inordinate management time and ends up diluting your brand's perception. One of the research participants said it best… “Growth without strategy is a big mistake.” Enough said.