Tips on Sustainable Growth

Tips on Sustainable Growth

Growing too fast or ignoring customers can scupper long-term growth.

By Marcia Smith

Fast growth doesn’t always equal long term success. Many businesses have made a huge leap in turnover but have run aground anyway. Winning large contracts, for example, is only an advantage if you have the resources needed to deliver. In fact, more commonly, cash flow becomes a huge problem. So how can you ensure that your business grows in a way that allows profits to rise sustainably year after year?

Focus on your customers - It might sound obvious, but many businesses still struggle with this. The customer experience is the most important factor influencing your business’ growth. Organic customer acquisition (through word of mouth, for example) is free and should always be a huge priority.

Specialize - A well-defined core offering is what will grow your firm. Don’t be tempted to diversify unless you know this won’t take excessive resources and attention away from your core business.

Export wisely - Exporting too quickly is a risk, but if you have the resources necessary then do your research to ensure you export to markets with the most demand. Resist the temptation to automatically go into the easiest markets: those that are nearest or English-speaking.

Outsource the admin - If you’re spending too much time on the day-to-day administration of running a firm, you’re not thinking about growth and improvement. Cloud technology means outsourcing those tasks is much easier.

Communicate with staff - Make sure everyone in your company is clear what the business’ objectives and core values are. Foster an open and honest culture.

Typical obstacles

There are many potential obstacles to business growth, but they can be broadly categorized into four main themes:

Ideas - Developing ideas for growing your business takes skill, imagination, effort and time. A lack of new ideas can be a major obstacle.

People - Growing a business requires giving skilled people the right level of authority and motivation.

Funding - Great ideas usually need an injection of funds, so a lack of investors can pose a significant obstacle to growth.

Customers - Growth will only occur if there are customers willing to buy your product or service, and if you’ve got the right message to attract them.