All businesses have enjoyed growth in the past, but in the same way that a fish grows to the size of its pond, a business’s growth will ultimately slow and plateau. The easy opportunities of yesterday are replaced by the tough trials of tomorrow. It’s tempting to lower your sights; to start planning on “last year plus three percent”, “one point of market share” or “a few more stores”. Working harder, growing slower, and becoming ever more vulnerable to a faster fish making waves.
Your business needs a dramatic growth strategy
In order to stay alive, businesses need good, healthy growth. Here are five steps for getting your organisation back on the growth track.
Look at all the different markets in which you could participate. Examine increasing penetration of your current offer, for instance to other customer groups, other geographies or via new and emerging channels. Consider broadening your offer to target other related markets, needs and occasions. Think about adapting your business model: going direct, turning product into a service (or vice versa), or partnering with related businesses to provide a bigger solution.
For each of the opportunities, look at how big they are, how profitable they might be, how fast they might grow, and how much share you think you could realistically take. Think about your ambitions: how fast do you want to grow, how much risk would you be prepared to take on, what goals will you set? Finally, where do your passions lie? Which of the big opportunities really excites you?
Who is already playing in those markets? How are you different and where could you be advantaged? What would be your positioning: “the cheapest”, “the best”, or “the only”? If the market is already crowded, what will make you truly distinctive? What is it about your proposition that is so much better, that customers will want to switch to you? Finally, consider what you will need to do in order to deliver – what capabilities, resources, skills will your team need? How long before they could be ready?
Try and do too many things and you’ll fail at all of them. Far better to focus on a small number of big things and deliver just one or two of them really well. You may need to consider cash flow and critical resources and cancelling non-strategic projects to redeploy good people. Whatever it takes, make sure you prioritise ruthlessly.
Define how you will enter the market – will it be test-and-learn or big-bang to get a first-mover advantage? What skills, knowledge and relationships will you need to build or acquire? Outline the key initiatives, create clear ownership and accountability, and set up a management structure so you stay clear on progress and can flex people and resources as required to keep everything on track.
The more objectively you research and answer the questions, the clearer you will become on where the biggest, most realistic and most exciting growth opportunities are. The clearer you place your focus on those opportunities the more likely you are to find the time, energy and resources to deliver them. And the more energy and resource you apply to them, the faster you’ll get back on the rapid growth track.