When you’re growing a business, it can be difficult to know where to start. You have a great idea for a product or service, but scaling-up needs more. Growth comes from a business working as one.
Successfully boosting your business growth needs thoughtful planning. It’s useful to decide what you’re doing before leaping in. These 5 steps are important parts of the growth process.
What do you want to achieve? Anyone could say more profits or more growth. What makes you a great business leader is being able to say what that actually means.
Your mission should be something achievable and measurable. Decide where you want to be and how long you want to take, then assign numbers you can observe. Maybe you want to double your value in 2 years; that’s a usable mission.
You can turn your goals into an actionable strategic plan using tools from your business strategy toolkit, such as MOST Analysis. Use it to build your plan in steps from your mission to the actionable tactics that you’ll take away to complete.
This helps build a strategy that’s realistic, focuses on what’s important, and is easily implemented.
You probably researched your market when starting your business to help you find your place in it. This doesn’t stop being useful once you’ve gained your foothold.
A good leader is realistic about their place amongst the competition. If you have competitors who are doing better than you, use it. Why are they doing better?
If they get more customers, how could you improve on your strategic marketing objectives? If their clients are more loyal, what can you do to improve customer retention? If they’re making as many sales as you, how are they structured to reduce costs?
This doesn’t mean just copying them. You can remain your own business, but understanding your differences will help you figure out what you could develop.
You can’t sell to people who don’t know you exist. Marketing is about building a brand that people want to interact with.
It’s not just about getting your name out there, although that is very important. You want a plan for every stage of the funnel including keeping those that have made a sale.
Your marketing growth strategies are some of the most important parts of maintaining growth. You can launch new products, automate your production, restructure, but if you don’t have people to sell to, it doesn’t matter.
Working for your growth never stops. You can never assume your business plan will succeed because there are too many uncertainties in business. No prediction will be completely accurate, and things can always go off plan.
Successful businesses keep monitoring their strategies. Strategic reviews show how well your ideas are playing out, allowing you to be agile.
It’s much easier to stay on top of your strategy if you establish a system to measure success from the very start. If your strategies have criteria written into them, it’s much easier for you to measure how well they’re doing.
Schedule in review meetings where your Board can go over the numbers and assess the success of your business plan so far. It’s easier to save your growth if you notice halfway through that something isn’t working than waiting until the end.
How often you should do these reviews depends on your business and the workflow of your strategies. Give yourself time for noticeable changes to have happened and time to make meaningful modifications afterwards and the review should be effective.
Again, growth never stops. You may have written your 2 year plan, started your tactics in motion, and established a system to review your success, but the work isn’t done.
If you find your strategies aren’t working, be ready to swap them out and try something else. Stay on top of training and understanding the ever changing market. You want to make sure that you’re always best equipped to lead the business.
Sometimes massive changes will occur that you can’t control. Crises could threaten your business or opportunities can open up that you’d not seen coming. Be flexible and don’t hold to your plan if it’s no longer the best one in the aftermath.
Successful business growth comes from putting the work in. A great business gets that way because its leaders have devoted the time and attention it deserves the whole way through its development.
Don’t overwork yourself or your team, but never become complacent either. The business world is constantly shifting, and there’s always new things to learn and respond to. So long as you stay on top of your business and keep giving your customers what they need, you’ll keep growing.
John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.
John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.