Strategic Growth Milestones
Success never happens overnight. Except in rare cases, it doesn’t happen by chance either. Even so, you can nudge the odds in your company’s favor by adopting a strategic approach to growth. Want to let the seed of your company’s potential flourish into a sustainable enterprise? Then, take note of what past successful companies have done and follow in their footsteps. This guide will point you on the right path.
What Is Strategic Growth?
By their very nature, the only way to ensure business sustainability is through growth. After all, if you don’t expand, more ambitious or more able competition will. Growth is the end goal, yet businesses can achieve it via different avenues.
For example, organic growth happens as you use your company’s resources to tap into new markets or refine production. Similarly, internal growth concerns rooting out inefficiencies so you can do more with the limited resources.
Growth like that is often haphazard and reactive. Conversely, thinking about growth strategically means systematically planning for long-term expansion. It forces stakeholders to thoroughly consider their goals and the risks they’re willing to take to achieve such goals.
Why is having a growth strategy essential?
Businesses that have acquired their first batch of customers and are establishing an online presence are in a precarious position. They’ve proven they have potential, but that’s not enough to account for unforeseen circumstances and market whims.
Whereas marketing strategies depend on seizing the day and making the most out of shifting trends, a growth strategy shifts the company leadership’s focus away from short-term thinking. Its goal is to provide an actionable and measurable plan for sustained expansion. Its ultimate goal is setting your business up to be healthy and sustainable for years to come.
Why use milestones?
Continued growth is a laudable goal. It’s also too vague to be practical as a business strategy. That’s where milestones come in. Milestones add structure and a sense of urgency to your growth endeavors.
Let’s say you want to improve customer acquisition. It’s not enough to put “grow customer base” down as a goal. What constitutes acceptable growth in this scenario? How would you measure it? Introducing milestones makes things clearer and provides concrete achievements to strive for. An example milestone could be: “Increase the number of first-time customers by 20% each quarter for the next two years.”
Milestones provide concrete goals to attain. They also make them measurable. That allows attentive leaders to see if they’re hitting targets and change their plans if current efforts aren’t bearing fruit. Setting a time limit makes everyone involved aware of how much work they need to put in and helps them develop routines to meet deadlines.
Finally, milestones promote personal and collective accountability. They encourage clear role delegation where everyone knows their responsibilities. Such activities are often interdependent, so teams and individuals feel a sense of obligation toward their colleagues. Not wanting to let everyone else down can be a powerful motivator for improved collaboration and productivity.
Developing a Successful Growth Strategy
Devising a strategy that brings results is key to jumpstarting your business’s next growth period. The more thoroughly you prepare the strategy, the easier it will be to implement and act on.
Define growth goals
Not honing in on a particular aspect of growth is the first mistake you should avoid. There are various growth metrics, so which should your company concentrate on? Do you plan on creating new products or refine existing ones? Are you keen on establishing your presence in new markets or building brand equity? Do you want to grow your workforce’s number and expertise?
Some of these goals go hand in hand, like an increased need for staff once your business takes off in a new market. Even so, you should always start with and stick to a primary growth goal.
Do the research
After you’ve defined how you want to grow, it’s time to assess whether it’s feasible. That means conducting research on several fronts. On the one hand, you’ll want to pay attention to the competition. See if there’s something they’re not doing that you can exploit to get a larger market share.
On the other, there’s the market itself. What’s trending? What are customers dissatisfied with? Can you offer a better alternative? Surveys, focus groups, and reaching out to your customer base can bring to light opportunities and issues you wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
Shape your strategy
Recognizing the need and opportunity for growth creates a strong foundation for a proper strategy. Now, it’s time to define goals and set a road map towards accomplishing them. Milestones should mark each step of the way, marking progress and serving as early warning signs should your strategy not unfold as planned.
Assess the tools & resources you’ll need
A comprehensive growth strategy should account for all the resources you can reasonably plan for to meet the end goal. For example, you may have decided to grow the number of employees to meet higher demand. You’ll want to account for time & money costs associated with the candidate selection process and onboarding.
Working from home has become a benefit that attracts top talent. Staying competitive could mean offering WFH, which may have security repercussions. The company will need to invest in a reliable VPN if WFH employees are to connect to its networks securely from any remote location.
Although, choosing a reliable VPN is no easy job. It’s best to do an extensive research before investing in a provider. This detailed VPN comparison table on Reddit is helpful to compare several important criterias that VPNs should possess.
That’s just one of countless investments that may be worthwhile but aren’t apparent straight away. Realize that implementing a growth strategy is among the most resource-intensive activities a company goes through, and anticipate your needs accordingly.
All this planning should put you in an excellent position to execute the growth strategy milestone by milestone. Initial real-world results might not align with your projections. You’ll want to monitor your teams’ efforts first and make corrections if necessary.
Additional Strategies to Consider for Business Growth & Survival
A myopic focus on growth alone can leave you vulnerable in other areas. Part of becoming and staying successful is having plans in place for any contingency. Consider the following challenges and how you can turn them into advantages over the competition.
Develop a disaster plan
It would be foolish to assume your employees and the company’s physical assets aren’t at risk. Even if your geographic location is stable, fires, floods, or burglaries can set your business back irrevocably. Having a disaster plan helps mitigate the most severe damage and lets you bounce back from the losses faster.
Assuming the worst is a good first step. What would be the most indispensable assets to replace, provided everything is gone? Data is likely at the top of the list, especially if you’re in the tech industry. A comprehensive backup strategy is, therefore, essential.
The business needs a contingency plan outlining what to do in case of disaster. It should establish responsible individuals who will execute the plan. You also have to designate someone to reach out to the public and stakeholders to update them on the situation. Any buildings you operate out of need to be up to code, and your employees should undergo safety training.
Don’t neglect cybersecurity
Success comes at the cost of anonymity. This can become too much for your cybersecurity to handle if you don’t continually invest in it. The more people are aware of you, the higher the chance hackers will be as well. The most serious mistake you could make is to assume they won’t be interested in a burgeoning business. In fact, such companies are prime targets.
You have to approach the problem on multiple fronts. On the one hand, your networks need robust protection from unauthorized access. That implies investing in sophisticated firewalls & threat protection. You may even need to hire a white hat hacker to perform penetration testing and determine if your systems are vulnerable to attack.
On the other, people remain the most pervasive and unpredictable threat. Stealing someone’s credentials or tricking them into giving up vital company secrets with a carefully crafted message is much easier.
Employees need to practice healthy cybersecurity habits. That means knowing how not to fall for scam messages and using strong, unique passwords for each account. Training can help with the former, while password managers make password maintenance safer and more intuitive.
As your teams expand, so does the chance of malicious insider threats. Establishing an access hierarchy that governs who can view and edit confidential data is among the first cybersecurity improvements you should consider.
Entering the growth stage is an exciting time for any business. It signals that you know how to overcome obstacles and are ready to reap greater rewards. Developing a comprehensive growth strategy while not losing sight of practices that keep your business out of harm’s way will ensure this is just the first of many spurts in its lifecycle.
Strategic growth refers to a business’s planned and purposeful expansion. It often includes entering new markets, launching new products, or increasing market share. Such development takes clear, long-term objectives on a basis that aligns with the company’s mission and vision.
A successful growth strategy can be developed with market research to assess current trends and opportunities. Analyzing the company’s strengths and weaknesses, setting clear and measurable objectives, and creating a roadmap to achieve goals are imperative parts of this development.
Yes. While the article touches on fundamental strategies, businesses can take numerous other approaches depending on their objectives. Mergers and acquisitions, franchising, diversifying product lines, investing in research and development, and more could be listed. The best strategy varies, is unique to each case, and often depends on the specific industry, market conditions, and company goals.
Apart from the strategies above, there are other steps businesses can take. For example, companies must maintain a solid financial foundation, stay adaptable to market changes, invest in employee training and development, and prioritize customer satisfaction for further business survival.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, yet businesses should review their growth milestones at least annually. However, more frequent reviews may be necessary in rapidly changing industries or during periods of significant market disruption. Regular checks ensure the business remains aligned with its goals and can adjust its strategies timely.