Before entering a discussion of ways to grow your business it would be worthwhile to investigate what growth really is.
One of my favorite business axioms is “the only constant is change.” When discussing the topic of growth, what we’re really talking about is change. Growth refers to an organization’s ability to manage and implement changes within the organization.
Why is it a good thing to make changes to an organization? This is a realistic question that needs to be addressed even by profitable businesses. The process of growth (change) is largely recognized as a necessary step to surviving and competing within a business environment that is continuously changing outside the organization.
A common argument in favor of the decision to take on a growth initiative is that if the organization doesn’t grow then it will die. There is no middle ground. No organization operates within a vacuum. A business operates within a business environment that is shared with other businesses. The other businesses are constantly engaged in a business plan that results in an environment that becomes more challenging and competitive. Competing niches and more advanced products are releasing that typically threaten the viability of your organization. Without well-managed growth, more forward thinking and opportunistic competitors will eventually threaten the existence of your business.
Consider this comment by a Reddit reader on the topic:
In business, being dynamic/adaptable is the key. No market or technology is going to stay the same forever. The items/services that you customers want can change on a whim. The things that your competition is offering will change. Sometimes disruptive technology will come along and completely alter your business model. Overall, companies grow for the same reasons that people grow their careers. They want more stuff/profit, they want to be better suited for emergencies, and they want to have money on hand to take advantage of opportunities when they arrive.
So how do we achieve effective growth?
Know Thyself (Before You Do Anything Else)
The whole process begins with thorough, painstaking self-evaluation.
Getting to know your organization’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial to learning what your business is good at doing and what it isn’t good at doing. This step is about learning who or what your business is and identifying its personality traits, so to speak. Why is this important? It identifies where you need to focus your resources and areas that you hope to improve by way of the growth process. Expect this process to require a significant amount of time. Hopefully, your internal reporting system will have recorded transactions in sufficient enough level of detail so as to facilitate the identification of opportunities for improvement.
Another byproduct of this analysis is to establish priorities for what needs to be changed or the areas requiring growth. The higher the priority the greater the attention that needs to be given to the matter of change.
As InsideBusinessMag notes:
Any growing business has resource constraints — limited people, time, and capital — so it is critical that the entrepreneur spend his or her time on the most important areas that can drive success. These priorities may vary with the type of business or the phase of growth. To set priorities, entrepreneurs must have concrete and useful data about their business, communicate the priorities to their personnel, and implement processes to ensure that these priorities are carried out. One entrepreneur whom I interviewed prioritized his focus simply as customers, quality and cash flow. For him, if an issue did not impact directly and materially one of those three areas, it could wait.
Four Ways To Grow Your Business:
Expand your line of products or the services you offer
This alternative could prove to be one of the easiest to put in place depending on how much of your organization’s current infrastructure is already “tooled” to produce the new products and services. For example, with a couple of tweaks the organization can take advantage of machinery and equipment already in place to create a new and worthwhile product line.
Do business in the global economy
It’s fairly easy to lose sight of the fact that in today’s business climate we operate within what’s called a global economy. This fact makes it relatively easy to compete for profitable business opportunities to sell and buy goods and services outside our borders. It is highly recommended that your organization’s growth model include a feasibility analysis of growing in the direction of international business.
In some cases relocation can be voluntary and in other events can be mandatory. Rising cost of living is a major influence, and it can easily force the organization out of the area to find less expensive locations. Relocation can also become a reality if your organization is acquired by another that maintains its management team elsewhere.
Merger & Acquisition (M&A)
With this growth alternative, the organization in one fashion or another consolidates itself with another organization. The end product of the M&A can resemble a partnership in which each partner contributes its strengths into something complementary that the other partner does not have. The idea behind the M&A is to join together two or more businesses into a new multifaceted organization that has more strengths than either one has individually. The so-called strengths can be market niches, technologies, global opportunities, and more.
Find more examples of ways to grow your business here.