From seminars to books to online gurus, there’s no shortage of advice out there on growing your business. However, it’s important to recall that no two companies are identical in their circumstances, offerings and goals.
Not every growth strategy applies to every business, and taking a blanket approach without consideration may not work out the way you’d like it to. To determine if a growth tactic is a fit for your unique situation, ask yourself these 10 important questions, as recommended by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.
1. ‘What is typical for our industry?’
First, be realistic about your business and others like it. What is typical for your industry? Not all businesses can scale — ask yourself if you even want to scale. While the internet has leveled the playing field for digital services and allowed companies in that sector to grow very fast, those that require physical labor may require a more creative structure and financial support if they’re prepared to scale. Think of companies such as Uber, Lyft and so on. – Jean-Paul Gedeon, JPG MEDIA
2. ‘How does this match up with our organization’s goals?’
Before adopting any major change, including a growth strategy, leadership needs to revisit the organization’s goals and priorities. When these are clearly identified and articulated, you can then test a potential growth strategy against them. Ask, “Will this strategy get us to where we want to go, or will it lead somewhere else?” Understanding your endpoint will help you build the roadmap to get there. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.
3. ‘What is our risk factor?’
One factor to assess when deciding if a particular growth strategy is applicable to your business is your risk factor. If you are comfortable with pushing all of your chips to the center and betting it all, you can likely go with a more aggressive strategy. If your risk tolerance is lower, a slower or more proven route may be the better strategy. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
4. ‘Will this impact our culture or change our brand identity?’
Be honest with yourself. What is the mission of your company? If you are the owner, what is the vision? “Success” may not be growth in revenue and employees — it may be about impact. How many organizations or lives can you help improve? Ask yourself, “Will growth impact our culture? Will growth change our brand identity?” Design your metrics and actions to support your goals, not others’ definition of success. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC
5. ‘Will it help diversify our business?’
Every business needs to grow, but not always for the same reasons. Some businesses are stagnant or may even be realizing declining revenues, while others are growing slowly in markets that are growing more quickly — and losing share. Most often businesses need growth to diversify and to avoid concentration. A good growth approach (such as horizon growth) can help you to define future opportunities. – Mark Coronna, Chief Outsiders
6. ‘Is it a challenge for us?’
We have stopped saying, “What if” — rather, we ask, “How does this challenge provide growth to another level?” We have to take risks, good or bad; a decision is needed to see how far we can go. We believe in pivots and always try to be a step ahead. Isn’t this what makes us who we are? – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.
7. ‘Does this strategy have elements that have supported past growth?’
If the strategy being considered has any elements that have supported growth in the past, it has a high likelihood of being successful. What has worked in the past will likely work in the future. Being crystal-clear about specifics for growth will give you the advantage to surgically analyze every opportunity. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
8. ‘Do we have a clear offering and resources in place?’
Many businesses are trying to grow prematurely, and it’s a big mistake. To ensure consistent growth, you need to have the right people and enough resources to execute. You also need a clear product or service offering. Finally, you must have all the processes in place, functioning like clockwork. It doesn’t make sense to start growing if you haven’t covered those basics. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. ‘Can we fail fast?’
Set up a trial run and test it. Failure is not fatal, and when done well — and fast — it helps build the foundation for future success. Set up measurable tests and have the discipline to see them through and respond accordingly. Falling in love with one approach and not believing the data can be costly. – Jon Schram, The Purple Guys
10. ‘Does it align with my exit strategy?’
You’ll sell your business to a strategic buyer, a financial buyer, family, employees or partners. You might want to go public or close it down. If you don’t have an exit strategy, start there and work backward to see if your growth strategy fits the long-term exit strategy. – Josephine Firat, Firat Education