Growing your business is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success. Even if you plan to keep your business relatively small and local – one you can directly manage and work on yourself – rather than evolving into a national or global brand where you’re kept away from the cliff face by high level executive decision making, you need to think about growth to reach and maintain your ideal level of development. A small business is more vulnerable to change than bigger businesses – a new bus route could divert 20% of your customers to another town, or a small change in pricing from a supplier could leave you floundering. A certain level of growth protects you from customer attrition and the risk of being overdependent on any one product or service.
The problem is, growth can be a risk in itself. Poorly structured growth initiatives can lead to financial overcommitment, damage to your brand or poor service for your customers. Before you start hiring in growth strategy consultants, let’s take a look at what a growth strategy is and how it can help you.
Avoiding Brand Damage
Your brand is one of your most important assets. It’s the image customers build of your business that they can relate to personally. A strong brand calls out to customers, making them feel safe, welcome and rewarded in a way that a financial instrument and a cold calculation of value does not.
For such an important tool, it’s easy to undermine. Failing on a growth project is almost always done in public – whether it’s launching a product that proves unpopular or opening a new location that fails to find an audience, it’s a signal that perhaps you’re not actually as expert as you’ve lead people to think, and it can damage you with your customers, your colleagues and even your investors. Look at the reputational damage incurred on a personal and business level by Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk after their failings with Facebook’s Metaverse and Twitter respectively for examples of this at the highest level.
You can also dilute your brand by growing in ways that don’t support it. Adding products that don’t fit conceptually with the rest of your inventory, that are promoted differently or aimed at a different audience can all make it harder for an audience to latch onto compared with a well defined, integrated brand.
A good growth strategy should understand your brand and how customers relate to it and ensure you’re growing in ways that reinforce your brand rather than endangering it.
The other major risk area your growth strategy needs to cover is financial. You need to know how you’re going to fund growth, which compromises you’re prepared to make and which you absolutely won’t – and also how your existing business will operate in relation to the growth you’re planning. If boosting your visibility means you start taking orders beyond your capacity to fulfil them, you’re setting yourself up for failure!
A good brand strategy takes in this landscape to ensure your growth is matched to your ability to provide the quality you’re known for, and can be funded without risking your existing business or giving away more control than you can live with.
Given how important this kind of planning is, and how complex a job it is to do well, it could well be worth the cost to work with a qualified business consultant who specialise in the area, and create a watertight plan for growing your business while avoiding the risks.