There are a lot of reasons why businesses struggle to grow. It can be heartbreaking when something you’ve put so much time and effort into isn’t working out. Growth can always be recovered though.
Some of the most common reasons include lacking a strategic direction, missing out on marketing, a limited customer base, and a poor organisational structure. You’ll need to be honest with yourself and explore why you think you’re struggling.
Whatever the reason, it can seem hard to know how to kickstart the growth you desire. There are, however, things that you can do to help you get what you want from your business growth.
Define what growth means for your business
Growth can be defined in many ways in business, a few of the most common definitions are increasing revenue, market share, or customer base. Growth is a top priority for businesses of all sizes, and it’s important to find a definition that works best for your business’s goals.
What is it you really want from your business? What is it that’s weak at the moment? These questions will help you figure out what you mean by growth.
Growth could be increasing the revenue you bring in annually. If you’re struggling to bring in enough customers, growth could mean expanding your customer base and generating more leads. If you’re doing well in your market but have stalled, it could be exploring diversification.
It all comes down to asking what you want to focus on the most. Explore your business’s data to try and find out what you’re most in need of, then centre your attention there.
Create a plan to achieve your desired level of growth
By creating a growth plan, you’re creating a road map for your business’s future. Once you’ve identified what your main growth target is, you can turn it into a strategic plan.
Your plan should be built around your mission. Your mission is a specific, measurable, time-limited version of your definition of growth. For example, double customer base in 18 months.
From there, you can explore the options available to you for achieving your mission. Your plan should outline what you want, how you’ll get there, and what actionable tactics you’ll be using.
Include a wide range of experiences from within your business. You don’t want to leave part of it out, or risk repeating the slow growth problem. If you don’t know much about marketing, for example, you won’t be able to tell what’s not working for you.
These things take some time. As well as all the research you should perform in advance, set aside as much as a few days to plan your growth strategy. This is your future, and isn’t something to rush.
Take action and track your progress
You’ve seen that businesses want to have a business strategy to be successful. However, many businesses don’t track their progress in implementing their strategy after they’ve planned it.
This can lead to wasted time and money. It is important to monitor your progress so you can make corrections and keep moving towards your end goal.
Strategic reviews involve coming back to your strategy at regular intervals and assessing its progress. They’re meetings, like when you first created your plan, where you go back and ask: “is this working?”
The main reason your mission and subsequent objectives should be measurable is that you can answer this question objectively. If you’re halfway through your allotted time and you’ve achieved half the target you wanted, that’s a great sign.
More importantly, if you’re below the level you thought you would be, you have a chance to recover. If a strategy hasn’t worked, this is when you can change it for another. Likewise, if one is working really well, you get the chance to expand it.
The end of your timeline isn’t when you want to find out that it was never working. Tracking your progress means you can step in earlier, when there’s a chance to make a meaningful difference to your growth.
Celebrate your successes
Growing your business is a process that takes time, effort, and planning. However, if you understand why you want to grow and create a plan to monitor your success, you can make the growth of your business a reality.
No matter what challenges you faced along the way, what setbacks you had to work around, or changes you had to make, don’t forget to appreciate what you’ve achieved. Growing your business is a great achievement, and worthy of you taking note before the next big challenge.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out what your business needs, you may benefit from an outside point of view. An expert who isn’t currently part of your business can be an incredibly valuable person to bring onboard.
They can offer impartial advice and support to grow your business. If this sounds like something you’d want, Boardroom Advisors offers part-time Executive Directors with contracts that are flexible enough to suit you.
John Courtney is Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long term contract.
John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40 year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.