Fast and sustainable growth in business is a key factor in determining long-term success. Our industry experts shared their key focuses for creating and executing on growth strategy.
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As Mark Schelling outlined in Forbes, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And while this may seem harsh, it’s never been more true than it is today.
Historically, times of economic uncertainty have been detrimental to stagnant companies. Conversely, innovative companies have found success. Many of the titans of industry that we know today were founded during the 2008 financial crisis, having identified and capitalized on a newly emerging need. So while prolonged lockdowns may scare some executives into hunkering down and attempting to wait out the uncertainty, the smart ones will see this as an opportunity for growth.
Most executives consider growth to be an essential part of the startup phase, but as their business matures, growth strategy begins to slide down the priority list. The fact is, growth strategy should remain central in all company activities. From HR, to sales, to business development, growth-focused companies continuously attract better employees, larger partners and more customers. These 5 key focuses will get you there.
1. Reevaluate, Redefine and Retarget
New and established businesses alike should take the time to reevaluate their mission and redefine their steps to achieving it. Ask yourself if the needs of your customers have changed. Have their values changed? The global business landscape has been significantly altered over the last several months, and previously established goals may no longer be viable, or you may have already overshot them.
Brain Balfour, the former VP of Growth at Hubspot, recommends taking a “top-down” approach to growth strategy and goal setting. A system by which a company defines its end goals and then works backward to establish the steps needed to reach it, the “top-down” approach helps business leaders convert big picture ideas into actionable tasks that can be taken on by the executive team. “Understanding how your inputs would need to change starts to define the potential paths to hit your primary goal,” explains Balfour. “You can then talk with your team more specifically about if hitting those improvements on the inputs is reasonable.”
2. Make Digital Work for You
In years past, many businesses may have dismissed the rising digital trends as being inapplicable to their business. But let’s face it, digital is no longer a trend. COVID-19 has shifted all markets online. From the South American fishing industry to New York City broadway, digital tools and platforms have something to offer for everyone.
Leveraging digital automation tools on your website can help you connect with more potential customers by getting them the information they need quickly. Participating in webinars or virtual conferences can connect you to potential partners and clients in your industry.
There’s a new or improving market growing within each industry, and it’s online.
3. Keep One Eye on Opportunities
At a certain point, a company will hit the ceiling on its growth potential within a certain market. There are only so many consumers, partners, or deals. See this as a launchpad instead of a limitation. Using the solid customer base and brand reputation that you’ve built within that market, start exploring opportunities in other markets.
Whether it’s expanding your product offering or moving into a new geographical region, sourcing new opportunities is the best way to foster growth in an established company. Deal networks and industry conventions, virtual or otherwise, are some of the best ways to identify current trends and growth opportunities. By gathering information on everything from distribution channels to potential competitors, you can evaluate your growth potential.
Consider using tools like The International Trade Forum’s (ITC) database. A catalog of trading and company information that can be filtered by tariff code, ITC’s database can give you a list of companies that buy/provide the products or services you need to support expansion. At the same time, it can show you which companies you may be competing with within the new market.
4. Drive Growth Through Strategic Partnerships
The right partnership at the right time can completely alter the growth potential of a company. Whether it’s providing you with additional funding or a foothold in a new market, strategic partnerships are a cornerstone of a successful expansion.
Partnerships are also one of the best ways to grow within your market. Collaborating with like-minded companies can expose your brand to a wealth of new clients. “Rather than chasing single clients, secure a partnership with a large organization whereby their clients or partners are warmly exposed to your offering,” explains Opportunity Network CEO & Founder Brian Pallas. “Growth is exponential. As you scale your business, your potential for growth multiplies.”
5. Find the Growth Gap
Check-in with your customers. Ask your clients what they like and dislike about your business. See if there is anything you could offer which would make their experience with your company better. Not only is this a good tip for relationship building with your clients, but it’s also a way to tap into growth opportunities that you may be missing.
Customer feedback can help identify complementary products or services which would be of value to your existing market. Selling additional products to an existing customer costs on average 70% less than acquiring a new customer. By uncovering potential pain points or emerging needs within your niche and growing your offering to solve them, not only will you increase your customer satisfaction but also increase your market share.
CEO & Founder of Reforge
CEO & Founder at Opportunity Network