Read about the key areas you need to consider in developing a growth strategy for your business.
“I’m happy with where my business is right now and I’m not looking to grow,” said no business owner, ever.
Growth can mean many things. It can mean increased demand for your product or service, or expanding your operations, or achieving profitability, or overtaking a competitor. But no matter how you define your growth objectives, it’s important you have a strategy so you can set yourself up for success. Here are the key areas you need to consider in developing a growth strategy for your business.
You need to have a plan. Document what you are specifically looking to achieve. As a business owner, you make decisions every day. Having concrete goals helps you focus and gives you an important context within which to make those decisions.
As your business grows, your technology needs will grow as well. In some cases, technology could be the key to growth – for example, implementing automation to speed your ability to fulfill orders. In other cases, growth could result in a need to expand technology – such as when the addition of new employees requires you to increase network bandwidth. Understand the role that technology plays in your growth strategy and be prepared to make the necessary investments.
One of the advantages of being a business owner in the digital age is the amount of data that exists. Take advantage of all the data that’s available to you to understand your market and your customers, assess the profitability of your business operations, and test what is and isn’t working.
You rely on your employees to help you operate your business, and they play an important role in your growth. Share your plan with employees so they understand what you are trying to accomplish. Not only will it ensure that you are all working toward the same goal, you never know when they may have great ideas you haven’t thought of for how to get there.
As an entrepreneur, you may be used to flying solo and bootstrapping every next stage – and that’s gotten you to where you are today. But you can accelerate your growth by leveraging your network of partners. Think “partner” in the broadest sense – it could be vendors, associations or a local chamber of commerce, customers, or others in your professional network. Think about how they can help you promote and grow your business. Of course, you’ll want to consider how you can help them, as well.
It’s great when you can fully fund growth with sales, but that’s not always possible. Understand the financial implications of your growth strategy and have a plan for where that capital will come from. While a traditional loan is certainly an option, there are a wide variety of funding sources out there, so think as creatively about funding as you do other aspects of the business.
Just like starting a business, growing a business involves risk and requires guts. Don’t be afraid to make changes to drive your business forward. But you also need to be flexible. Be ready to scrap an idea that isn’t working. Above all, keep the passion and drive that brought you to where you are today, as that’s important fuel to get you to where you want to be tomorrow.