Do you have a growth strategy or diversification plan in place for your business?
You may have been running your business for 12 months, or you may have been running it for five years; whatever case you find yourself in, time is irrelevant. The fact that your business is still standing and still ticking over is a credit to you and your hard work.
Of course, the hard work never ends, it just changes over time, and now the hard work, time, and effort are required from you once more to bring about change.
You need to embrace change, and you need to see change as positive because, ultimately, change is going to help you diversify and grow your business. If you are not open or prepared to change, then your business will not grow, and you will not be able to seek out new opportunities and target markets.
So, before opportunities slip by, it is important to grab the reigns and take control of your business’s future.
1. Look at What You Are Doing Now
So, just where is your business at this present moment in time. Is it just turning over a profit, or are you just paying bills?
You cannot focus on growth strategy and diversification if you are simply treading water, so this must be your first area for improvement. You must take a deep and honest look at what you are selling and what you are making after taxes and expenses.
If you are not regularly profitable, then you must set about making changes before you look at any further progression. Once you are in a position whereby you are constantly making a profit month on month, then you know you are ready to focus your time and attention on growth and development.
2. Weigh Up Your Options
Once you are in profit, and once your business is steady, you will want to weigh up the options available to you.
For example, within your business, is outsourcing an option, and can this help you achieve the growth that you want? Is one of your options to take on an employee, or perhaps to hire a freelancer to help you take things to the next level?
Before you dive straight into growing your business, you must weigh up the pros and cons of everything you are currently doing and wanting to do. Once you have weighed up your options, you will have a clear path to follow.
3. Compare Yourself to the Competition
Now it is all about the competition. What are your competitors up to? Are they taking your customers away by offering excellent customer service? Are they better on pricing, or are they offering more convenient and tailored services and shopping experiences for the buyer or client?
Keeping up to date with what your competitors are doing is essential, and the importance of this activity cannot be underestimated. You can learn a lot from your competition, especially if they are direct, so don’t be tempted to turn away and carry on in blissful peace as this would not be a beneficial or wise decision to make.
4. Decide What You Want to Focus On
There is no way that you could be everything to everyone; this would simply not be possible or achievable. Successfully diversifying or growing your business is knowing just what you want to focus on and why.
For example, if your younger customers are heavily based on their computers, you want to diversify to meet their needs, or if you want to focus on growing to a new town or possibly even a new state.
There is a difference between growth strategy and diversification, and you must decide which route you want to take as soon as possible. Once you have chosen the way you want to go, your next steps can be more relevant and targeted.
5. Create Targets and Aims
You know that you want to grow or diversify, but you are not sure where you need to start, and this is when aims and targets come into play.
Creating achievable and realistic aims and targets for your business growth or diversification is important. Diversification and growth are huge undertakings in their own rights, and if you do not break the processes down into manageable to digest chunks, then you will find yourself buckling under an immense amount of weight and pressure.
Targets and aims do not have to be in-depth, but they do have to be specific and relevant. For example, if you want to focus on growth as a target, you could do the following: My business needs to reach four new target areas or markets within the next six months.
Of course, targets and aims are not set in stone, and they can flex around your businesses needs and your needs, but by having them in place, you give yourself something to work on, and this is important as it can be very easy to digress and divert away from the job at hand.
Take some time to carefully think about what you want, jot these ideas down and then break down each idea and see how feasible each target is.
6. Searching For a Bigger Premise or Trading Location
Now that you know you want bigger and better, it is time to find more suitable premises. Over the coming months, your current premises may not be suitable, and it may not hold everything you need, so you must be prepared to move.
For example, if you are operating within manufacturing or production, you know that you will need more space for equipment. Anticipating your business needs and staying ahead by looking ahead is an important task to undertake.
7. Increasing Productivity and Efficiency – Taking on New Staff or Outsourcing
When you are keeping your business going, you understand the importance of maintaining a productive and efficient business and workplace.
For example, if you are running a manufacturing business, then plant warehouse productivity and efficiency will be needed both at the production levels and at staffing levels. If lean approaches and measures are not introduced and adhere to, then how will you confidently be able to push your business forwards?
To increase productivity, you may wish to look at outsourcing the role to other businesses, or you may wish to hire new staff to keep up with demand. The most important thing to remember is that even you are focusing on growth or diversification, standards and efficiency will need to be upheld.
8. Have a Growth Strategy and Plan in Place
Creating and putting into place a growth strategy is a must. Within this strategy, or plan you can detail your hopes and ambitions for your business, and you can detail the route you will take to realize your ambitions.
Within growth or diversification, a growth strategy is seen as a key document. It lays out what you want to do, where and by when and it also includes a heap of data and market research to back up what your plans are.
A growth strategy will take a lot of factors into accounts, such as the competition, the risk vs. reward, and the cost required to achieve your goals and ambitions. As a growth strategy is so extensive, it does require a lot of effort and research on your part as a business owner.
Of course, if you do not know where to start with a growth strategy, or if you do not have time, you can always utilize a professional advisor who will help you produce a growth strategy and plan for your business.
9. Set Yourself and Your Business a Realistic Timescale
Whether you do down the diversification route, or you go down the growth route you must always set timescales. When you set timescales and deadlines you make things more solid and realistic, and you give yourself a point of reference.
When setting a timescale you need to look at the end goal and then work backward. Setting goals and targets will help you keep your visions in your sight, and will help make them more achievable.
10. Utilize Networking With Other Fellow Business Owners
Pushing your business forwards can be difficult and time-consuming if you are trying to do everything yourself. Taking on too much and ending up struggling will not do much for your business’s reputation and image.
So, where you can, it is important to connect with other business owners, whether this be done virtually or physically. Joining forces with other business owners., bouncing back ideas, and working together in partnership can be truly beneficial for you and for your business.
11. Keeping Marketing at the Forefront of Everything You Do
Behind a successful growth strategy or diversification, there is one thing that remains constant, and this is marketing. If you don’t let people know who you are and what you do, then you will struggle to be more than a tiny ripple in a river, whereas if you focus on integrating and incorporating marketing into your daily list of chores, you will soon see visible differences.
Of course, you can undertake some of the marketing yourself, but if you want professional results, consistently every time you will want to leave it to the experts and instead focus your time on running your business.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.