The default assumption in most of the conversation around businesses – especially in the startup sphere- is that growth is the holy grail. Scaling is what you work toward above all else. For some businesses, this is the right strategy, but it’s not a view you should adopt unthinkingly. Not all growth is good growth – not every opportunity will pay off in the long term, not every new product or new location flatters the brand you’ve been building.
Today, we’re taking a look at some of these issues and asking if growth is the right choice for your business.
Planning for growth is one way to help you identify the good opportunities, and the times when it might be appropriate and right for your specific business to grow. You can set checks to identify when your business is in a healthy state to support growth – and you’re not risking overextending yourself. You can develop a deeper understanding of your business and what your customers see in it, to make sure the opportunities you see for growth are ones that further your brand building work rather than leaving customers confused about who you are and what you can offer them.
It can be useful to get some help with this planning. Growth consulting is an emergent specialism in the business consulting sector that helps business owners identify what the right kind of growth looks like for them, and how to achieve it healthily. Think of it as like consulting a personal trainer – you don’t just want every muscle in your body to become as big as possible immediately. That would be fatal! – you want someone who can help you visualise where you want to be, and then come up with a plan to get there in safe, sustainable increments.If you’re looking for a strategic business consultant UK consulting firms are beginning to offer these services, so you’ll likely be able to find an option to fit your needs.
You can supercharge your plans with data from research. If you perform (or better – if you have the resources – commission) some market research, you can get hard data on what your customers think about your business. You need to know what they like, what they value, what brings them to you to make a purchase if you’re going to lean further into that perception and strengthen your brand.
If you don’t know why people like you, you run the risk of undermining that perception by, for example, adding products or holding sales that clash with it. If people think shopping with you is a premium experience then you could drive away a lot of your existing customers by launching a high profile budget range – it cuts against the image they’ve created of what you are.
It’s also worth pursuing competitor research. This tells you what your most important competitor businesses could be planning, and helps you plan around it. It can severely blunt the impact of your marketing resources if you’re launching a new product or sale at the same time as a competitor – you’re both bidding on the same ad slots, driving up the price half the attention from customers! Finding the white space, both conceptually, and on the calendar, gives you the space to grow safely.