How to grow your business in six bold steps

5th January, 2015

Lets face it: growing a thriving business is not easy. If it were easy, then we would all work 10 hours a week and be millionaires.

Growing your business is difficult. It takes time, discipline, and hard work — there are no shortcuts. You need a structured, disciplined approach that you must consistently do each and every day. However, most business owners are not naturally disciplined, consistent and focused. We tend to jump from one crisis to another — and from one good idea to another — only to end up growing in spits and spurts.

If you want to achieve sustainable, consistent growth then you need to follow a sustainable, consistent process. It’s a science, not an art. It’s not easy, but if you follow these six bold steps, then you will be well on your way to steady growth in your business.

Step 1: Pursue passion, not money

If you don’t enjoy what you do, then you will never truly get sustainable, long-term growth. If there’s no buzz or excitement as you jump out of bed in the morning to get ready to go to work, then growth will elude you. The fastest growing businesses are driven by owners who absolutely love and feel passionate about what their business stands for and what good it can bring to their customers.

Step 1 is to take a reality check and ask yourself as the business owner: “Do I really enjoy what I do and what my business does?” If you answer with anything less than passion and enthusiasm, then it’s crunch-time for you. Maybe you need to close down or sell your business. I know this can be a difficult and confronting decision to make, but life is short. If you don’t love your business and all the baggage that goes with it, then get out. Love what you do, and your business will thrive. Grudge what you do, and your business will dive. Once again, these are difficult but critical steps. I said this wasn’t easy.

Step 2: Use micro-plans

Now that you have decided you’re really passionate about your business and have found your calling, Step 2 is all about harnessing that passion into a structured plan. I don’t mean a full-blown business plan. I find most business owners, whilst they start with good intentions in creating a business plan, tend to shelve it after a few months. The main reason is that business plans are too long and are focused too far into the future.

If you want to create an immediate growth plan, then you need to focus on what you need to do today — or this this week or next month — rather than for the next 12 months. Daily and weekly focus, tied to a loose plan is far more effective. You can’t control what happens next month or next quarter in your business. Plan for growth by focusing on what you need to do today and this week.

Ask yourself:

  • What customers must I call today?
  • What prospects am I going to visit this week?
  • What new products must I start selling now?
  • When this week will I increase my prices?

These short-term, micro-plans are all highly focused on the here and now and are designed to get quick and immediate results.

READ: Business planning for success

Step 3: Constantly innovate

Innovate, or your business will stagnate. Businesses that keep doing the same thing, selling the same products and services, run the risk of being left behind when the market moves on. If you are not constantly looking at ways to innovate and improve your business — how it operates, the products, the delivery — then I guarantee you that your competitors will be innovating what they are doing.

Look across your entire business and see how could you continuously improve what you are doing. What efficiencies can you create? What product lines are getting old and outdated? Where is the future in your industry in terms of customer needs and tastes? Where will you need to position your business in the next three to five years to capitalise on future growth opportunities? These are the critical questions that you as the business owner must find the answers to.

If your business looks, feels and does the same thing it did three years ago, then you could end up being left behind. Business growth doesn’t come from standing still and playing it safe. If you want to grow, then you must constantly innovate what your business does.

Step 4: Pivot to change direction

So you have decided you love and are passionate about your business. You are focusing daily and weekly on micro-growth plans. You have done a complete analysis of your business and have identified some areas where you can innovate what you do. But nothing has worked. Growth has continued to elude you.

You start to get frustrated. It’s like trying to lose weight. You’re following the exercise plan; you are following the recommended diet; and you are slogging away in the gym — but the weight isn’t coming off. What do you do? Most business owners do nothing. They just keep slogging away, hoping things will change.

There is no magic formula for getting business growth. There are a million magic formulas — you just need to keep experimenting, adjusting, reinventing, and pivoting until you get the formula right for your particular business.

Most business owners think persistence will solve all their problems and that eventually, given enough time, money and effort, they will crack the “growth code.” But they don’t. Be persistent, but be persistent in changing direction or pivoting until you get it right. You may need to pivot so much that your business may require wholesale changes or pivot completely into a totally different industry. Once again, these are 6 bold steps to business growth, and you need courage to do whatever is required to find, chase, then nail-down business growth.

Step 5: Repeat

Growth can be fleeting and usually comes and goes. Nothing lasts forever, and business growth is the same. That’s why it’s critical that as a business owner you keep repeating these steps so far. Just because you’re passionate about your business today doesn’t mean in 5 years’ time you won’t fall out of love with it. Will the great innovative ideas you have created today guarantee sustainable business growth and new opportunities tomorrow?

You need to repeat the process. The pursuit of business growth is a constant cycle, and you must never stop.

Step 6: Always keep an eye on the exit door

Every business has a shelf life, or it will reach a plateau that could last for years. It’s a given, and as a business owner, you must have an exit plan. I see too many business owners trapped for too long in their business, waking up each morning and not wanting to go to work. By then, it’s too late. No matter how many times you repeat these steps, you are beyond turning around a growth slump. Most businesses end up going backwards, and, out of shear desperation, the business owner sells the business in a fire sale just to get out.

Always plan to exit your business. The best time to sell, for the maximum sale price is when it’s growing, not when it’s declining. Time your exit strategy with care, when your business is expanding and not when it has plateaued or is in decline.

READ: How to maximise the sale price of your business

In summary, chasing business growth is a structured, disciplined and scientific approach. Don’t leave it to chance and hope. If you want to grow your business, then follow these six bold, but rewarding steps, and get ready for taking your business to the next level.