Four Steps To Sustainable Business Growth
Business can be brutal and despite entrepreneurialism being on the rise - with record numbers of new start-ups launching over the past few years - the evidence shows that few of them make it past the hurdle of their first year. From cash flow issues to simply not understanding the market well enough, there are multiple reasons why a fledgling business can fail, and you want to ensure that your company doesn’t become one of the statistics.
In order to make it, it's important to have a business growth strategy in place - both to set a clear direction for where you are heading, but also to inform your daily operations in pursuit of this ultimate goal. Difficult as it can be to raise your head above the parapet of business as usual, the avalanche of invoicing, marketing, and general admin you have to handle - if you make time to focus on growth in a systematic way, then you’ll be repaid many times over.
Create Your Value Proposition
When the aim is to sustain long-term, steady growth increases, it becomes imperative to understand exactly what your business DNA is. What problem do you solve in the world? What are your vision and values? How do you add to the lives of your customers? What represents your unique point of difference and how are you credible and relevant to the wider environment? These are the big questions you need to be asking in order to keep your business on the right trajectory.
There are different factors that each business will compete on - from price, to being the thought leader in a certain area. Having this self-knowledge about your company is imperative, because each and every decision you make should be referred back to this central proposition. If it doesn’t make sense for you to do something, then don’t do it. Too many business leaders mistake rapid, scattergun extensions for true growth, which is always more organic and congruent with a brand’s identity.
Know Your Customers Inside Out
Understand who your customer is and what they want may sound simple, but there are countless examples out there of start-ups that failed to adequately answer this question, and had a very short lifespan as a result. Consistent consumer research is the only way to really keep on top of what is certainly a moveable feast - so get into the habit of continually soliciting feedback, whether it's through web-based surveys, face-to-face at trade events or using social listening to understand the discussion. Keep one finger on the pulse of wider macroeconomic trends and learn to interpret data into actionable insights about your audience.
Upskill Your Staff
Growth means one thing - more resource. And the resource that you have in your people is the most important one. Helping staff to upskill so that they can develop and grow alongside your business is absolutely key to success. Invest in extra training so that your team can handle the challenges of upscaling the business.
If you need to recruit, employee referrals are also a great way to do it - if you’ve built a company with a strong sense of identity and mission that treats its staff well then it shouldn’t be hard to convince those staff to spread the word. Loyalty works both ways and can really pay dividends when it comes time to upscale your operations.
Set Clear Goals
Changes you make to your business need to be measurable. Setting achievable development goals with clear KPIs and measurable outcomes is the only way to be sure that you’re making meaningful progress in the right areas. Set out in advance what key indicators are the most important influences on your business growth, and invest the most time and money on those areas. Make smaller, iterative changes over time and measure the outcomes, so that you can see progress and what’s working and not very clearly.