How to create a successful business growth plan

Business growth: it’s perhaps one of the most universal objectives for SME owners. Whether it’s revenue increase, territory expansion or a drive in sales volume, business growth will always be one of the key cornerstones to running a successful, and longstanding business.

Yet despite being widely talked about – the ways in which to plan and prepare for business growth can feel confusing and messy. It’s difficult to decide on which element of your business to focus on first when it comes to launching this next phase of business evolution.

Like most things in life, business growth starts with a good plan. By creating a thorough overview of your business in its current state, as well as clear insight into the direction you’d like to grow, you’ll be equipped to identify your next steps for business growth.

So to help you illuminate that path, we’ve pulled together our guide to creating a successful business growth plan. An easy-to-follow breakdown of what you’ll need to do to understand where you are going, or more appropriately – where you’re growing…

 

Begin with a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis might sound like something that only works in theory, but in fact, it’s a tool with real practical benefits. Standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – this age-old framework asks you to get to grips with where your business is at right now. By answering each of these honestly, with genuine market intel, and without vanity or sugar-coating – you’ll be well on your way in navigating towards business growth.

 

Set your SMART objectives

In this instance, SMART means more than clever or intelligent. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. It’s a way of setting objects that are obtainable, rather than being vague and loose. Remember, an objective is not a strategy, nor is it a tactic. It’s a top-level overview of a goal you are hoping to reach, such as: ‘Grow sales by 5% by 31 March’.

 

Achieving your SMART objectives

Once you’ve set your objectives, it’s time to decide how you’re going to make those goals a reality. It’s important that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket at this stage. That means establishing three alternative strategies for achieving business growth.

To do this, you can use Ansoff’s Growth Matrix. This simple framework helps you identify different business growth strategies, each with different approaches and risk levels, so that you are able to make an informed decision on which is the right approach for your business.

 

Evaluating your strategic options

The next stage in developing a successful business growth plan is to evaluate each of your strategic options in terms of three key factors: Suitability, Acceptability and Feasibility. To do this, you can use a SAFe analysis. With a SAFe analysis, you can rank, appraise, rate and evaluate your strategy in the context of your organisation and its objectives. By scoring your strategies 1-5 on each factor – you’ll be able to gain a clear insight into which is the right one for your business growth plan.

 

Articulating your strategic vision and objectives   

You’ll now need to articulate your strategic vision for business growth. This vision should contain a handful of top-level things you need to make it a reality. Outline 3-6 Strategic Objectives, and within those, goals and KPIs that can easily be broken down into individual tasks.

Your strategic objectives should cover the following areas:

  • Financial
  • Customer
  • Operational
  • People
  • Growth

Ideally, each of your objectives should cover 3 to 6 of these areas which will become a big focus for the next few years, not just months. For example, ‘grow market share to over 40% by March 2022’ is a strategic objective that in turn, can be broken down into tangible tasks.

Keeping your vision, goals and objectives clear and concise, and including numbers, timings, deadlines and owners is always advisable. Overcomplicated and intricate strategies often fail because they don’t translate well into how the business can actually work to achieve them.

 

Making a business growth strategy successful

To make a business growth plan successful you’ll need to follow all of the above with conviction. As a leader, you’ll need to communicate both progress and setbacks relentlessly with your stakeholders. Doing so in a way that is interesting and engaging, will keep your team motivated to keep pushing towards business growth. And by using accountability so there is no ambiguity – you’ll be able to make it clear who and what is required to keep pushing your strategic vision to fruition.