Many businesses on the precipice of growth or those preparing to enter a new chapter are searching for ways to drive business growth, but can find themselves 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 counter-intuitive, 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 business growth, then it’s time for a strategic planning discussion.
Businesses and individuals are often frozen by their own success.
Start by asking these four questions to determine your business’ next steps”:
1. How do you define “long-term”?
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.
2. What will things look like when you get there?
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.
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3. What is your current state of being?
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.
Ask your team if the business is progressing or just remaining stagnant.
4. How will you measure milestones along the way?
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. 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.
Bonus Question: What do you do when you encounter shiny objects?
So many businesses can get distracted by “shiny objects” aka 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
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 problem arises that gives your team great pause on which direction to take.
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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, transformation, both for you and your business.
David Spitulnik is a successful executive with over 35 years 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. David works with individuals and organizations to develop and implement strategies that drive transformation, growth, diversification, operating efficiency, and value…
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