Most businesses want to grow.
They understand that staying small is not a viable option. Because if you don’t grow, well… you go.
Studies show that growth is the top strategic priority for CEOs in 2020. Especially, since the global economy seems to be demonstrating increasingly positive tendencies. Thus, Morgan Stanley's 2020 Global Macro Outlook predicts the global GDP is set to grow 3.4% by the end of 2020, which sends encouraging news to businesses across the globe.
However, it’s not only the favorable economic conditions that push companies to grow.
According to the CEO Today, businesses that grow not only increase their profits and expand market share, they also improve their product offering’s relevance, develop an agile and innovative mindset, improve their customer retention and attract more talented staff.
But while growth is exciting as it brings a lot of benefits and higher revenues, it’s also quite scary as it comes with a cost and increased risk. How do you grow safely and sustainably? How do you ensure that the growth bubble doesn’t burst and you’re in for a long ride?
This is exactly what this article is about – how to grow safely, responsibly and, most importantly, efficiently.
8 ways to sustain business growth
Growing your business sustainably may be a challenge, but as with any challenge, you either accept it and do your best to overcome it, or you give up. The choice is yours. At the end of the day, the success of your business growth depends on how you do it.
Here are 8 strategies that can help you can maintain a healthy business growth.
1. Invest in the best people
Your company’s future success very much depends on your employees. That’s why hiring and keeping talented people is key to a growing business.
As the renowned head of Virgin Group, investor, author and philanthropist, Sir Richard Branson famously said:
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Top talents are known to be able to sustain the growth momentum with their ambition and drive, as well as come up with unconventional ways of solving problems and will care about your customer as their own.
Start by assessing your current employee pool, and refresh and upgrade it if you see any signs of stagnation and apathy. The talents that will help your business grow should be keen on finding new ways to serve and attract customers, as well as be passionate about spotting new business development opportunities and capitalizing on them.
2. Communication is ALWAYS the key
This strategy affects your corporate culture and values. How transparent are you when it comes to decision-making, planning and choosing growth strategies? Are you sharing your growth ambitions with others?
Take a long, hard look at how and by whom the decisions are being made in the company. Do people know why some actions are being taken? Do you even care if they know or not?
For the employees to give you their best in terms of effort and commitment to succeed, they need to understand why a certain course of action is being taken or some changes are introduced. Communication should be strongly reinforced on all levels – be it shareholders, directors, managers, team-leaders, or ordinary employees.
By being transparent, making your plans known and involving your employees in the decision-making, you’re empowering people and turning them away from “I am just here for the wages” mentality and stirring them towards “I am here to grow this business” mindset.
3. Eliminate even the slightest possibility of working in silos
It’s hardly “news” for you that working in silos kills.
Literally. It kills businesses.
Not sharing information, having different processes and conflicting goals – are all symptoms of the “silo mentality” that harms both internal operations of a business and its external customer experience. Worst of all, it results in the absence of trust!
This means you should do your best to eliminate the silo mentality and this way avoid inefficient, redundant processes and roles, as well as put an end to pointless fighting for ownership and responsibilities. Only a united, fine-tuned organization, where “the left hand knows what the right hand is doing” can grow consistently and achieve a well-structured and carefully orchestrated expansion.
4. Embrace innovation and invest in cost-efficient working tools
“If agility accelerates growth, innovation is the driving force to achieve it,” claims a recent study by Accenture Technology.
The study states that 90% of business leaders admit that IT-led innovation is critical to their company’s growth and survival.
In the era of digital transformation, innovations and digital technologies run the show. In order to grow sustainably, you need to invest in innovative digital tools that help you:
- streamline communication,
- organize and automate processes,
- centralize data storage and exchange of information,
- increase overall productivity and boost sales,
- know your customers’ needs and serve them better,
- analyze your performance,
- collect and save data safely and securely, etc.
– all with an aim of making your every action more efficient and cost-saving.
And for that you need to make you have the right working tools, IT systems and operational processes in place that can be scaled up and customized as your business grows.
5. Plan your growth and know how much it costs
Growth without strategy is a recipe for failure. You need to be in control of how you grow and plan your next short-term and long-term expansion phases.
Of course, it is super exciting to quickly expand your customer base and focus on pumping up revenue. But it is not a sustainable way, because if you’re not making profit and don’t have enough cash flow – you may soon come to a halt.
A perfect way to illustrate the detrimental effect of “growth-at-all-costs” mentality is the recent abrupt decline of the most coveted and highly valued unicorn companies – WeWork, a co-working, office space rental startup.
This means you need a solid plan, a budget and a “profit-first” mentality. You also need to track KPIs, measure different segments of your performance and make revenue forecasts.
What are your existing and potential revenue streams? Do you track your income and expenses? Do you have enough cash for hiring new personnel, buying new software or covering extra costs? How do you measure your activities and how do they contribute to your business growth?
There are many questions to ask and things to keep an eye on. One thing is clear: growth should not replace good business practices, negatively impact society or environment, and – worst of all – come at the cost of employees.
That’s why having an immediate action plan and a long-term strategy are two major success factors that enable a healthy growth.
6. Choose your customers wisely … and keep them!
Don’t sell ice to Eskimos (or sell anything to anyone), instead you should know who your ideal customers are and focus on them!
By having a very clear picture of your target audience, you can make razor-sharp decisions and tactical moves in winning new and retaining old customers. Focus only on those who really need your products, are ready and willing to commit, thus building value as the time goes by.
Picking the right customers is the cornerstone of sustainable growth, because they are the perfect fit for what you sell, and it is a repeatable sales model that allows you to confidently scale your business. As simple as that!
Concentrating on repeat business and creating customer loyalty will help your business grow sustainably. Make sure you keep in touch with your customers, get to know their habits and behaviors, anticipate their needs, and use their opinions to make your product or service better.
In other words, if you want to enjoy a long-lasting business – invest in long-lasting relationships with your customers! And make customer retention your number one business goal.
7. (Re)Define your value proposition
When you started your business, you had a specific idea in mind – your unique proposition that created a certain value.
Remember that? Now, are you sure you can quickly and confidently answer the following questions today?
- What makes your service or product better than someone else’s?
- How different are you from you competitors?
- Does it matter to your target customer group? Do they care and see the value in what you offer?
If you’re having trouble answering these, drop everything you’re doing and reassess your value proposition. Because it seems like you may have lost your identity. Which means you lost RELEVANCE!
Without understanding your competitive advantage and knowing why you’re the best in what you do, your growth won’t stand the winds of change or the competition’s assault.
Think about what you are great at, and make sure you show it throughout the entire interaction with your potential and existing customers, as well as in your corporate values and in your brand.
8. Strengthen your brand
In order to successfully grow, you need to have a distinct voice - your brand.
To communicate with your customers in a unique and unified voice, you need to develop a distinctive culture, shape your values and define your USPs.
There are many advantages to a strong brand. It allows you
- stand out from the competition,
- make an emotional connection with your future or existing customers, and
- create the feeling of confidence in your offering.
It is also a solid foundation that makes your business stable amid rapid growth-induced changes. It’s the identity that grounds your business and ensures longevity, because customers traditionally prefer to sustain long-term relationships with a strong brand. In other words – a strong brand is the biggest growth driver.
Embrace responsible growth
Although growth might be scary, you should resist the temptation to stay small.
Yes, it’s risky. But, it’s worth it in the long run.
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited of what could go right,” (Tony Robbins)
In order to avoid reckless risks, you need to comprehend your growth goals and tactics, embrace innovation, and move ahead with a plan, a budget and a team that shares your aspiration to succeed. Finally, if you put sustainability at the heart of your business, then your business will grow in a healthy and pragmatic way.
Contact us today to learn more about how SuperOffice can help your business grow sustainably.