Thinking about how to grow your business? Take a strategic approach.
Have you ever thought about what you want your business to be in the next 10 or 20 years and how you will be involved in it? Do you have an exit strategy – a strategy that will allow you to successfully exit the business? Do you see your business as a national or international firm or business, or perhaps turning it into a franchise? Are you thinking about how to make it attractive to investors so that you can take it to the next level? If you are bootstrapping, do you know what the numbers need to look like in order to get the business to the next level?
Many conversations I have had with small business owners and leaders have involved what they are doing today and perhaps a hope of what will happen in the future. It might be something to the affect of “I want this to grow as big as it can get” or “I want to go global”
But really – what does that mean? How does that impact the way the company is run, structured and financed? Does this mean that the company is in ten countries or one hundred? What expertise is required to go beyond borders? What additional education or skills need to be developed in order to run a much more complex business?
Business growth requires planning, beginning with determining what type of growth opportunities exist. Strategic growth doesn’t start and end with a dream; it is carefully and strategically considered to increase the likelihood of long-term success. While you might say that you really do want to have a global organization, you will want to determine what it will take to get it there.
For example, if you have an internet business, perhaps an ecommerce website – or perhaps several sites where you sell information. Seems easy. No real logistics issues. The business runs itself. While the site might be accessible around the globe, only the people who bump into the site can purchase from it. If it is no different than 1 million of the other sites on the internet, your business becomes competitive on price against similar information and information providers. You also have your brand equity to think about. Will people purchase from you over Harvard University Press? Perhaps. But why? Asking the critical questions is the foundation of strategy.
Growing your business should take on a strategic approach, beginning with questions
- What opportunity actually exist in the marketplace?
- How do I find them?
- How can I take advantage of them?
- Who are the direct competitors – those who might sell the same or a similar thing, or
- Who are the indirect competitors – those who serve something that people might purchase instead of what I am offering
- How long might this opportunity exist?
- Is this something that others could duplicate easily and quickly?
- How can I make what I am offering different so that people who are evaluating what we are offering can clearly see the differences?
- How will the offering change my business model?
Growing for the sake of growing, or growing without direction could be equated with swimming up stream, or swimming against the current. While you may make some progress, you may find that you are not nearly as successful as you could be. By carefully identifying and evaluating opportunities, and acting quickly to pursue them you may find that your efforts are far more fruitful.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni Business Consulting is an Operations & Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated helping business leaders DESIGN | CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. For nine years, we have helped our clients create and pursue extraordinary visions for their companies, by leveraging what they already do and strengthening their marketing & sales, product delivery, productivity and financial management.
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