How to grow a business

There are lots of ways to grow a business. Business owners should beware any suggestions that a single solution can yield best results. As with many areas of life, the easy answers to complex questions are to be treated with caution.

This is clear from the fact that lots of very different companies grow. And some companies grow in ways that you will not be able to replicate. So, your business could grow in innumerable ways. The question, assuming growth is an objective, is which route do you take? For me, there are four factors to consider: The internal environment, the level of commitment to the strategy, the ability to sustain, and – most importantly – the question of brand.

Firstly, is growth right for you?

It’s not that your business needs to make you a millionaire or be a global leader in order to be counted as ‘successful’. But marketing tells us that in an ever changing environment, staying the same is in itself a risk. So growth of business can have many ends. It might be increased market share and revenue and profit but it might also be to diversify risk and protect against any loss of core business. What would you do if your biggest customer stopped buying?

You have to think ‘internal’ as well as ’external’

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to business growth. This is self-evidently true. If not then all companies would do the same thing in the same way.

Some things work better in one industry rather than another, or in one company rather than another. Some things work better on a large scale than a small scale.

There are some universal truths though when it comes to how and why people buy. Finding ways to apply these to your business is key. Then getting this applied consistently by those in the business who engage with customers and those who develop the systems by which you work.

You have to do what is necessary

Knowing and doing are very different things.

If the method of growth involves doing things that you are not willing to do, then it’s not suitable. Examples might be changing the product to suit wider needs, changing a service into a product or changing customer relations. Whatever you do will have an impact on how things are done. This is where the right strategy will pay dividends.

It is possible that something can be a route to growth but you simply don’t want to do it.
There is nothing wrong with this. But you may as well articulate this, so that everyone in the business has a shared understanding. Then you can focus your efforts on finding more suitable activities.

You have to have the ability to sustain it

This could mean the finances and cash flow, or human resources in general, or particular expertise or technology. It may mean that time has to be allocated to something new on a regular basis.

It may be that you have a technological advantage, but there is a window of opportunity before others catch up. This is not necessarily a problem – you just have to ensure that you plan for both short and long term.

It has to be relevant to your brand

This point cuts across all of the others actually. If it’s not relevant to your brand then you have two choices: Don’t do it, or do it under a different brand.

A key issue with some methods of growth is that it involves doing things in the same way as others … so how are you going to sustain a competitive advantage?

Previous ArticleNext Article