Taking Control of Business Growth


The first thing to say is that for most small businesses, business growth is a very realistic option. My logic for this bold statement is based on observation and common sense. Firstly, most small businesses only have a tiny share of the market they serve – howsoever they choose to define their market.

Secondly, and just as importantly, the vast majority of the small businesses do excellent work and have very happy customers.  The least risky growth option for any business is simply to do more of the stuff they already do well – what marketing people call “sticking to the knitting”.

Business Growth Essentials

So this is the obvious starting point for absolutely any business that wants to grow. Before doing anything else the owner must address a number of fundamentally important questions:

  • Why do I want to grow the business?
  • How much growth do I want and how quickly do I want it?
  • Where is the new business going to come from?
  • Are the marketing and sales plans in place to generate the new business?
  • Does the organisation have the capacity to cope with the increased level of activity?

Why do I want to grow the business?

You need to have a good reason for embarking on a business growth path – to know what you want to achieve. Growth means change for the organisation and the team. It will put the operation under more pressure and almost certainly involve spending some money – and it involves some element of risk. So, having a bigger revenue number only makes any kind of sense if the profit grows at the same, or preferably faster rate. A bigger business may enable the company to serve larger clients, attract better staff, achieve higher efficiency, buy more advantageously – in fact a whole host of different outcomes.

How much and how quickly?

Good management is all about setting specific, measurable targets. Both businesses and people need targets to provide a focus for activity and to provide the motivation, reward and recognition for their efforts and commitment. The answers to these questions enable you to anticipate and plan the resources you will undoubtedly need. Knowing what you want achieve enables you communicate your vision to the people around you and, most importantly, lets everyone know when you have been successful.

Where is the new business going to come from?

New business can come from a variety of sources. Perhaps most obviously by selling more to the existing clients or by finding entirely new customers. Based on my earlier premise, that small companies have plenty of market to go at, there is always a lot of ways to answer this questions so some decisions are needed.  The plans and resources required will depend on the choices you make.

Are the marketing and sales plans in place to generate the new business?

Stuff doesn’t just happen. You cannot continue to do what you did before and expect to get a different result – you have to do new things, or extra things or change the way you have always done things to produce a better outcome. You need a proper plan – not just the intention to try harder!

Does the organisation have the capacity to cope with the increased level of activity?

The more I work with small businesses the more convinced I become that the solution to most of their problems are the result of insufficient “capacity” or making poor use of the capacity they do have. A phrase I use is the ‘businesses ability to do stuff.’ Small businesses are commonly full of very busy people. They are also very commonly full of duplication, inefficiencies and incomplete or imperfect processes. The result is that some significant proportion of the businesses “capacity” is simply being wasted. This shows up in lots of different ways and is often only apparent from the outside. Setting out to improve business growth without being certain you have the capacity to service the new demands is a recipe for disaster.

Was that helpful?

A lot of the ideas mentioned here are explained in considerably more detail in the white paper – Growing Your Business – the People Dimension which can be downloaded from the resources section of this website.


About Bob Brown

Helping business owner to grow and transform their businesses in preparation for a successful exit, transfer control to a new management team or the next generation. Work with owner/managers over time to develop and execute their exit strategies.

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