4 Steps to Accelerate Business Growth
Four ways your business can speed up its development now and for the future...
Every small business wants to grow and be profitable, but in order to expand you need a vision of what you want to achieve and a plan to get you there. John Bee of strategic analysis consultants White Space, identifies four critical steps to accelerate a scalable and long-term growth plan.
1) Review Performance
Before you can start planning for growth, you need to review past performance to determine whether expansion is the right choice for your business. Review what you do really well, why customers choose (and like) you, and identify growth opportunities in your market.
Your growth plan doesn’t necessarily have to be about doing something ‘new’. Most businesses that grow successfully do so by analysing what they do best – then simply do more of it.
2) Set Goals
Once you’ve identified that growth is a viable option, you need to set realistic goals. These often fall into the following categories:
- i) Monetary – Goals set to increase revenues or profits by a certain percentage.
- ii) Resourcing – Recruiting new employees, training plans, technology advancements and the physical space to facilitate growth.
- iii) Service Delivery – How you plan to deliver services to existing and new customers to ensure that customer service satisfaction, retention and loyalty are maintained.
Goals must be understandable and SMART so they can be easily communicated and understood across your entire business.
3) Develop Your Business Growth Strategy
This stage of the plan may take some time to develop because it addresses the ‘how’. Market intelligence should play a key part in this, with a strategy then formed around answers to the following key questions:
- Do we grow sales of existing products/ services or launch new ones?
- Do we need to expand into new customer groups or geographies?
- What type of growth model are we going to focus on? Companies often use a combination of the following three models, but generally can only prioritise one:
- Paid for: use advertising and promotional activity to reach out to new customers
- Referral: encourage existing customers to introduce you to new prospects
- Customer stickiness: ensure existing customers stay with you and increase spend
- What is the real demand for our products or services right now?
- Where are our best partnership opportunities?
- Who is our main competition, and how can we compete against them?
- What about contingency and risk analysis if things go wrong? ‘Protecting the downside’ is a mantra of Richard Branson, and is something all businesses need to do, especially in the current economic climate.
Customer and competitor analysis is key at this stage. You need to understand what customers want in order to access more of their spend, and you need to understand what competitors are doing to maximise differentiation.
4) Make It Happen
This is a time to stop strategising and start ‘doing’. It involves spending time, and possibly money, on product development, sales and marketing. For many small businesses this is easy to begin with, but it runs out of steam over time as senior staff become side-tracked with other activities. It’s so important to ring-fence time and budget to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Don’t worry if your plan starts small: a phased growth plan is often the best, allowing for resources and demand to scale accordingly. Stable and solid growth comes from a scalable business growth model that expands to the financial capacity of the busines.
Article by John Bee, Managing Director of White Space, a strategic market analysis consultancy in the UK.