Growing successfully and sustainably is the goal of most organisations.
I have summarised the steps in an infographic and outlined below more detail about each.
Step 1 – know where you are going
It is critical to understand what you want to achieve i.e. what success will look like and feel like to sense check if, in fact, the goal or vision is actually what you want or fits with the organisation. I always remember talking to an old boss, MD of international PR consultancy, who had set up a small consultancy with his friends and then ended up with a large organisation where he earned less and enjoyed it less, it had just happened as they grew. Sometimes it is not about a vision but creating a successful strategy for growth in the short term and goals to achieve in this period which could be to just address a specific issue in the organisation. However even in this case it is important to check that the short term goal is congruent with the longer term vision for the organisation.
Step 2 – know where you are starting
Like any journey you can’t find your way if you don’t know your starting point. What are the values, the resources and any issues for the organisation? While many people use a SWOT analysis it frustrates me as it doesn’t help with any prioritisation so we have a tool called The 4Ps©which helps identify what is important about your current situation going into the future.
Step 3 – what is the landscape
Looking outside the organisation what is the competitive landscape? What is happening in technology or the political or social landscape which could have an impact? Today the obvious external is the coming election, what might be the impact of any potential political changes? What is happening with suppliers and customers, is the market stable or vulnerable to global trends? All these elements can provide insights into opportunities and signals for potential risks – speed bumps or potholes!
Step 4 – how can you stand out
I particularly like strategies based on identifying a niche, either in terms of a market or what you are offering – it gives many advantages and I always strive to find this with clients. Another alternative is competing on price preferably achieved through efficiency which means costs are low.
Step 5 – the road map
Nothing happens until there is action so a strategy is worthless if it doesn’t translate into a practical plan that your organisation is capable of implementing. At this stage often the strategy has to change maybe to include some organisational changes to make the strategy happen. For example, the strategy may involve approaching a new market and this may require getting more expertise in this sector.
Step 6 – measure how far you have travelled
It is critical to measure progress and adapt the plan and strategy if either circumstances change or the results you expect don’t happen. It is even better to be prepared with alternative routes. Shell is a great example of a company that is prepared. They think about all the potential things that could happen and prepare for them, for example, the Middle East oil crisis and are ready intellectually and practically to adapt.
If all this sounds too difficult then I recommend our e book which shows how even a business as simple as lettuce growing can have eight different strategies for business growth – it is a simple tale of seven brothers and will help with some of the questions you can use to develop a strong strategy.
I’ve been coaching for 13 years and worked with over 200 businesses in many sectors. When I work with clients I help them to achieve more, get focused and stay passionate. Our coaching is bespoke to your needs.