Many businesses and startups in various development phases are preparing to enter a new chapter or overcome a crisis, and they’re searching for ways to drive business growth. But a business can find itself struggling to move into that next big phase. This can happen for a number of reasons, whether it’s a lack of infrastructure or bandwidth, not having the appropriate people in place, or even just because of fear.
Though it may sound counterintuitive, businesses and individuals are often frozen by their own success. While it’s important to be able to make a plan to successfully weather a particular challenge, truly successful people also plan when a business is still doing well. If your goal is to drive growth, then it’s time for a strategic planning discussion.
A growth plan requires a goal for the future, but just as importantly, it requires analysis of the company’s present situation. Start by asking these five questions to determine your business’ next steps:
When determining your long-term goals to drive business growth, it’s important to determine what “long-term” means to you and your organization. For some, long-term could be next month or next year. For others, it could be five to ten years from now. Whatever it is, you need to set a specific time frame. Five years is an acceptable answer. Ten years is an acceptable answer. “Five to ten” is not. Specificity rules! No matter what, one key point to remember is that a long-term goal is not the end game. Rather, it is the next touchstone.
Once you’ve determined your timeline, define exactly what you want to see happen within that time frame. Once you’ve defined what you want, ask yourself what you want your business to look like once you’ve gotten to that touchstone.
In order to better envision your company through its process of growth, consider this advice from authors and partners at Innosight consulting firm, who tell the Harvard Business Review: “Interrogate what is likely to change about your customers, markets, and operating environment, and what isn’t. Focus on what your customers will require, how you’ll meet their new and evolving demands, the resonance of your products and services, and your overall capabilities.”
Our industries and technology are always changing and evolving, and you’ll want your business to stay relevant and competitive in the future. Will your company be positioned to meet these changes once it has reached its goals?
For this question, even more so than others, you’ll need to seek input from all involved –employees, customers, an advisory board or a small group of trusted counselors. Ask your team if the business is progressing or just remaining stagnant. What is going on in the market in which you operate? Where do team members see any gaps? Is everyone in agreement on your current state? If not, dig deeper to understand why there is disagreement. If everyone is in agreement, have a few more questions ready to make sure that you haven’t missed something.
As you move toward that long-term goal you’ve identified to drive business growth, ask yourself what progress will look like and what you plan to measure between here and there. Remember, your company’s milestones should be specific and measured by a tangible metric. This metric will be clear enough for all employees and managers to understand and build towards.
Not only do you want to ensure everyone is aligned in the present, you also want to ensure that your team remains aligned as you move into future phases. Make a plan to have regular check-ins along the way to confirm everyone is still in agreement, and that your business is moving in the right direction.
So many businesses can get distracted by “shiny objects”—the next great thing or business tool to come along.
Sometimes, it really is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Other times, shiny objects can throw you completely off track and detract from your primary objective: to drive business growth. Companies can get so wrapped up in testing out each and every shiny object that they lose track of the goal that they are trying to accomplish in the first place. On certain occasions, a new tool can be just what was needed to get your business to its next phase. Simply put? Be prepared.
Have a process in place to dictate how you evaluate the next “shiny object” that comes your way. Also, make sure to evaluate the state of the existing business at the same time, so you will know what to stop doing if you decide to chase the shiny object.
As you work your way through these questions, remember your business will likely go through many transitions. Change is usually necessary to drive business growth and, admittedly, that won’t always feel good or natural. In addition, there will be—not may be, but will be—times in which a crisis arises that gives your team great pause on which direction to take.
That’s when having an established process in place and having the skill set to implement it will be immensely important to help you make better decisions, power through temporary roadblocks and maintain your momentum.
Keep in mind the questions above for future instances. They’ll require you to make a challenging, but ultimately beneficial, business transformation.
©All Rights Reserved. October, 2020. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM
David Spitulnik is a successful executive with over 40 years of experience in both large technology companies and in consulting to and leadership of mid-market, closely held and family owned businesses across a variety of industries. In addition to serving as chair of the Private Directors Association’s Private and Family Business Center Outreach Committee, David…