Growth is a hallmark of business success.
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But as you've probably discovered, timing is everything when it comes to launching a growth-based initiative. Over the years, we've noticed that the business owners who are most effective at growing their companies are the ones who are intentional about timing and lay the groundwork with a growth-focused strategic plan.
Why is strategic planning so important? Because without a substantive strategic plan, it can be difficult to identify the growth strategy that will deliver the highest return for your company. For example, many business owners attempt to achieve bottom line growth by streamlining costs. Reducing costs is fine – but a growth-oriented strategic plan could have shifted the focus to increasing revenues, which experts say can boost the value of the business at least 25% higher than growth that is achieved through cost reductions.
To be effective, your strategic plan clearly needs to address growth-centered business strategies. As you prepare a strategic plan to guide your company through its next stage of growth, there are several things you'll want to consider.
- Be pragmatic. Unrealistic growth targets are impractical and useless. Would you like to double your revenues in the next twelve months? Sure. But if it isn't a realistic goal, it will invalidate the rest of the strategic planning process and virtually guarantee failure.
- Include contingencies. Never assume that your growth strategies will go as planned. Companies that successfully plan for growth do so because they build contingencies into their strategic plans. Although it won't be possible to forecast every obstacle you may encounter, a carefully crafted growth plan offers alternatives for unexpected circumstances.
- Evaluate requirements. Small business owners have a tendency to dream big. Dreaming big is a trait shared by successful leaders. But when it comes to creating a strategy for growth, big dreams can sometimes overshadow practical realities like the organizational, resources, and personnel requirements that will be needed to execute the strategic plan. Meticulously evaluate your current business assets before you commit your organization to a growth strategy.
- Think short- and long-term. Planning for growth can be tricky because success in the short-term doesn't always equate to success in the long-term. If a growth strategy delivers short-term results but doesn't contribute to the achievement of the company's long-term goals, it's probably not worth the effort.
- Identify metrics. Growth-oriented strategic plans require constant monitoring and assessment. Develop metrics that can be used to evaluate the success of your strategic plan and create a mechanism for modifying the plan if it fails to achieve growth targets.