Regardless of what stage your business is at, one of the key things that most business owners seek is growth.
This might involve growth in revenue, growth in the products or services you offer, growth in the number of staff who provide these products and services, or growth into new markets and locations.
But effective growth rarely occurs without a solid strategy behind it. Strategy ensures the growth that you seek is both achievable and manageable.
It defines exactly what you are seeking to achieve, how it will occur, when it will happen and who will be responsible for, or play a role, in taking your business to the next level.
So let’s look at why your business needs a growth strategy and what’s involved in creating one…
Preparing for growth
As much as most businesses hope for growth, the reality is it needs to be planned for and managed.
Without factoring in when and how growth will occur, your business runs the risk of being overwhelmed and unprepared.
That overwhelm might take the form of unexpected expenditure, being unable to meet customer demand, customer dissatisfaction, or perhaps low staff morale.
That’s where a growth strategy becomes essential. It helps you anticipate when your business will grow, how that will happen and the actions you need to take to ensure you are prepared.
Growth strategy involves clearly charting the course, including defining the what, the how, the when and the who which will enable you to achieve the business growth that you desire.
But what’s involved in creating a growth strategy and how can you prepare one?
What a growth strategy does
A well-prepared growth strategy looks at the what, the when and the how of any business expansion.
It considers which specific area you are seeking to grow, how that’s likely to take shape, what’s needed to facilitate that expansion and who will be responsible for handling or managing that growth.
And it all starts by defining exactly what you’re looking to grow…
Define what you’re looking to grow
Business growth can take a variety of forms with each requiring different skills, resources and focus.
The most common areas where a business might focus on growth include:
- Revenue growth
- Product expansion
- Increase in customer numbers
- Staff increases
- Growth into new locations
- Expansion of existing premises
There’s also a likelihood your growth strategy will include a focus on more than one of the elements listed above.
After all, an increase in product lines might result in the need for more staff and the expansion of your premises.
But once you know exactly what area/s of your business you are seeking to grow, you can start planning for what’s required to achieve that goal.
Do your due diligence
Just as you conduct due diligence when you start a business, you should also undertake research when considering growth.
This research will look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved and will also factor in existing competition in the marketplace, along with market research as to whether your business growth caters to your customers’ needs.
This research is designed to identify whether the growth you are planning for is necessary and feasible.
Set clear goals
When you know what you intend to grow and whether that growth is warranted or achievable, it’s time to set clear goals as to what this growth will look like.
These goals need to be SMART (as in specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely to ensure they are feasible and can be achieved.
Create actions and KPIs
There’s a big difference between setting a goal and creating the activity that allows you to achieve it, which is why your growth strategy must include actions and KPIs that allow you to measure your progress.
In other words, what needs to happen in order for that goal to be achieved, and how will you know that you’re on track to reach that milestone?
What’s needed to facilitate this growth?
Meanwhile, your growth strategy should factor in exactly what is required to achieve your goals in terms of tools, resources and equipment.
This helps identify exactly what you will need to spend money on in order to attain the growth you seek.
Consider: What people will be required? What tools (such as software), what plant and equipment, and what further resources such as premises or machinery?
Creating an effective growth strategy involves assigning responsibility to ensure there is accountability.
In other words, who will be responsible for delivering the KPIs and meeting the milestones along the way?
Assigning responsibility also allows your team to have clarity about what’s expected to happen, when and who is in charge of ‘making it so’.
Implement, measure and assess
Once you have defined what growth you are seeking to achieve, the goals you hope to reach, the actions required and who is responsible for delivering each segment of that growth, attention turns to implementing, measuring and assessing.
Implementing involves setting a train of action in motion to achieve the aim. Measuring allows you to ensure you’re on track to achieve the set milestones, and assessing allows you to alter course, or tweak the activity and milestones as required.
The final word
An effective growth strategy underpins the expansion of any business.
It allows you to set a clear course for exactly what you want to achieve, how you will do it and when you will know that milestone has been reached.
It also enables the business owner to manage that growth without disrupting the core business operation and ensures your team remains on the same page throughout any expansion.
Most importantly it allows your business to embrace growth without any nasty surprises along the way in a proactive not reactive way.