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Sooner or later, most small or medium-sized companies reach a major crossroads. Business has been good in previous years — but how do you take things to the next level? Is there one change you can make to guarantee successful growth?
I’ve worked with firms across Europe in different sectors, from manufacturing to maritime, IT to financial services. Some companies were historic family businesses, while others were maturing companies or ambitious start-ups.
Each grew. Some spectacularly. But the answer wasn’t one thing, it was four things, which I call the key ingredients for growth.
Ingredient #1: How you bring products to market
Some companies had successful products or services. New ones were being launched. But what looked exciting at the ‘engineering’ stage failed to translate into sales. The breakthrough came when we adapted the proposition. In many cases, we turned dry product features into mouth-watering product benefits that connected with customer needs. The marketing spark returned, the audience ‘got it’ and sales lit up.
Ingredient #2: How customers do business with you
Sometimes you’re so close to your own business, so familiar with its quirks and nuances, that you don’t realise how ‘doing business’ feels from the customers’ perspective. But what if there’s something going wrong at the process level and you’re missing it? Most times, it takes someone from the outside to see what’s going adrift in the customer journey — and help you fix it.
Ingredient #3: How you track and report key information
Do you want customers to tell you when problems exist — or do you want to fix them before anyone notices? Placing key performance indicators at strategic points across your business will tell you where today’s logjams and other issues need attention. This can be the secret to unlocking productivity, being able to scale up rapidly, and where to spend most effectively.
Ingredient #4: Refreshing your vision and team
Most of my clients’ success has been due to the talent of their people. But sometimes a great team starts to misfire, people clash and effort is wasted. The answer is to refresh your company vision, mission and values — turning this into objectives, deadlines and priorities. Then get everyone to align behind your common goal, so they can move ahead confidently. If they refuse, then maybe your company isn’t the best place for them — and a few new faces could improve everything?
Oops. We missed something.
What I’ve described might sound like a shopping list for growth success. But you probably need a business expansion expert (rather like a chef!) to add more some ingredients and less of others — and then to mix them into a winning recipe!
Finally, there’s one extra ingredient we haven’t mentioned. And nobody can have it but you. It’s whether you have the right mindset to grow. Are you ready for change — and do you have the drive and determination to see it through? Only then will your vision take shape.