The business world is constantly changing, and businesses are dealing with ever more competitive marketplaces. In fact, 48% of businesses say their industry has become much more competitive in just the past three years. You need to be able to adapt quickly in order to stay ahead of the competition. We understand this is very challenging, especially when you are juggling a million other things at the same time.
In this article, we’ll explore 6 proven business growth strategies that will launch your business to the next level:
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the competition in your industry, the more of these you implement, the better off you’ll be. Read on to learn more…
Overcoming the Speed of Change Happening Around You
Change is inevitable. Companies you compete with are doing the same thing you are… trying to come up with that more efficient process, that new product or service, a new way to garner leads. And it’s happening even more rapidly through technology.
These changes could be industry changes, or this could be the marketplace as a whole. It could be the speed that your competitors are changing. This could be how your target audiences are changing, or it could be the speed at which marketing, in general, is changing.
The idea here is to pick your head up once in a while and see what’s going on externally, so you always have an idea of the playing field you’re on. If you’re working on some of the other strategic areas in this article, like goal setting and management, or solving pain points… you’re not truly able to achieve the desired results unless you have a somewhat recent idea of what’s going on externally.
We dive deeper into aligning your company with industry & marketplace changes, competitive changes, target audience changes, and marketing changes, plus the benefits of this knowledge set in our article “How To Overcome the Speed of Business Change”.
Optimal Goal Setting for Long-Term Growth
A lot of smaller businesses prioritize getting by on a day-by-day basis, which is understandable, but you also need to have that longer-term plan in place, which comes to fruition through goal setting and management. You need to be setting and managing goals that are not just a wish list, but guidelines around moving forward. Actually, effective goal setting can improve the productivity of a team by 20-25%.
If you haven’t yet, decide on a goal model… there are a lot of different goal types, but align them all under something like KPIs or OKRs. Define where you want to be from a business sense by next quarter, by next year. Take that forward-looking idea and break it down based on your business… is that by department, is that by the team, is that by the aspect of your business (product set, marketing, operations, development).
What needs to come together within the time period you laid out in order to move the needle?
Take those qualitative outcomes and start to align quantitative metrics to each. What numbers need to be achieved in order to result in those qualitative outcomes?
If you’re ready to jump into more guidelines around how to optimally set your goals for success, check out “Why Goal Setting Matters for SMBs”.
Achieving Growth through Effective Goal Management
If you're like most SMB owners, you're always looking for new ways to grow your business. Once you set a goal, that’s not the end of your work with goals. Goal management is a critical part of an organization’s change, and it can help you maximize your return on investment while ensuring that your goals are realistic and achievable.
There are really 2 main aspects to managing your goals effectively.
1. Regularly check your progress.
Getting to the end of the goal period and then seeing how you did is not the recipe for success. Especially for longer-term goals, it's important to have regular insight into how things are progressing, so you can either motivate people more or shift tactics as needed.
2. Maintain alignment with internal and external factors.
With a nod to the earlier strategy of the speed of change… things are always changing. Keeping internal stakeholders abreast of what the goals are and how things are progressing is important. Also, if external factors are shifting, but your goals are not, there’s an obvious mismatch. These external factors and your subsequent goal updates of course have a lot of variables for them to understand.
The best way to keep on top of effective management is by using goal management software that can keep track of everything and be the portal for everyone to stay up to speed.
If you’re not sold yet, then realize that data shows the average revenue boost from proper goal setting and management is 15%.
For more tips on effective goal management, here’s a detailed run though: “Achieving Your Mission Through Proper Goal Management”
Achieve New Business Opportunities with your SWOT
For small businesses, growth can be a challenge. It may be business 101, but used well, your SWOT analysis can be a tool to reference your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for strategic actions by cross-referencing them.
By taking your SWOT off the dusty shelf (and if you don’t have one yet… there are some guidelines including a PESTLE analysis in our article “How To Achieve Business Opportunities with SWOT”) and combining these aspects as part of a 4 step process:
STEP 1: Identify actionable items by combining pieces from 2 quadrants.
Strengths > Opportunities. Use your internal strengths to take advantage of opportunities.
Strengths > Threats. Use your strengths to minimize threats.
Weaknesses > Opportunities. Improve weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities.
Weaknesses > Threats. Work to eliminate weaknesses to avoid threats.
STEP 2: Prioritize the strategic options from Step 1 based on business aspects like using the resources at your disposal efficiently (labor, capital etc), how quickly it will improve your business operations, and what revenue opportunities can result from the strategic shift.
STEP 3: Set goals & action steps (Objectives and Key Results) as well as a timeline for implementation based on your chosen items.
STEP 4: Measure the outcomes of your action and shift strategies as needed
By taking the time to use your SWOT analysis, you can develop a roadmap for growth that takes into account your unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This roadmap can help you navigate the challenges of today's business as well as find new paths to growth.
CI Isn’t Just Another Boring Acronym
Competitive Intelligence is something that most small businesses feel is the realm of the bigger fish in the pond. But with the need to differentiate, you can gain a lot from just a small amount of CI. Actually, 91% of companies who implement competitive intelligence in some way see a bump in revenue.
This intelligence assists across your sales process and sales team (even if that’s just you), it helps immensely with marketing strategies and can inform your product and/or service strategies. Basically, a view into what your competitors are doing can unearth numerous insights that can be used to bolster growth in your business.
On average, companies are competing against 29 other companies, so it pays to take a little time to see what the other horses in the race are doing.
You can start really simply. Jot down a list of your top three to five competitors as well as some hot-button business aspects that are important to you and capture some of that with a little research. If you’re ready to get started and want to see some of the recommended tools, here’s a deeper dive into Competitive Intelligence for Small Businesses: “As an SMB, do you have Competitive Intelligence?”