4 Steps to Build a Path to Sustainable Business Growth

Now that we’re clear on purpose and how to align your current state and desired identity, let’s look at creating a clear path to sustainable business growth. In ensuring your business state and desired identity are aligned, you’ve defined what that identity looks like and elicited both internal and external feedback. 

Based on those findings, how do you build a path to growth that is anchored in the heart of your business? Sustainable growth requires leadership to address existing challenges and recognize opportunities to create long-term value for both your people and your customers. To simplify, we’ll break the process down into four steps to business growth.

  1. Align on growth challenges

Aligning on growth challenges is an all-hands-on-deck job. All areas of the business should have a voice in order for this step to be effective.

It begins with an assessment of your business performance to date and envisioning your growth timeline. As a former boss of mine used to say, past performance is the best predictor of future performance unless something critical internally or externally changes. 

First, look at the challenges associated with your current reality. What decisions and actions have enabled your business growth in regards to revenue, customer satisfaction, brand and company valuation, etc.? Consider what areas of growth you’ve historically prioritized and why.

Conversely, which decisions and actions didn’t yield the expected results? Where has the business struggled? Maybe a strong competitor entered the market, or the market became pricing sensitive and you’re being squeezed out. Maybe your product simply wasn’t as effective in execution as you’d expected it to be.

Regardless of the challenge, look for specific examples where your business has grown, where your business has stalled, and identify the drivers of each. The goal at this stage is to align on challenges you’ve already faced and foresee those still to come. 

  1. Assess industry growth drivers

Which companies are delivering sustainable, profitable growth and standing out? What products, technologies, or services are driving their differentiation and growth? 

Maybe you’re a meat producer in the Food space and you see other meat producers pivoting to become more inclusive “protein” producers in order to embrace the increasing customer demand for plant-based meat alternatives. What can you learn and incorporate from the growth enablers of those leading in your industry as you consider your own growth opportunities?

Assess the current state of the market and where it’s heading, notice shifting customer demand patterns, and keep up with new entrants getting a lot of hype and support. If you get too comfortable where you’re at, you risk falling behind as the industry inevitably continues to evolve. 

  1. Define Value Opportunities 

Once you’ve gotten clear on where you stand and the challenges at hand, opportunities can be more clearly identified. 

In identifying growth challenges and industry growth patterns, you’ll likely consider several value opportunities. For example, sticking with our food theme above- say you’re a turkey meat producer and have noticed sustainable farming making quite a splash in chicken purchasing decisions. You might first consider the potential for the same opportunity to yield success in the turkey market.

Allow yourself to think broadly at first, but converge quickly by considering which opportunities are in line with your business purpose and values, and would matter the most to your customers and stake holders. Making money is simply not enough. Which opportunities are the most fitting when it comes to differentiating your value and staying true to your purpose and business ambition? Those are the only ones worth chasing.

  1. Devise a practical implementation plan

Identifying your challenges and opportunities will only be as successful as the implementation plan you enact. Once you’re clear on growth opportunities that align with your business purpose and ambition, the leadership team should consider what the organization needs in order to operate and execute the project opportunities. What commitments and resources will be required to manage your growth initiative end-to-end across the business?

An implementation plan includes mapping out the systems, interfaces, organizational design, resourcing, funding & governance models, conditions for success, outcomes and milestones you’ll celebrate along the way.

You’ll need to make sure your implementation plan is broken up with simple, tangible, time-bound outcomes that allow you to focus on the step you are currently on and objectively take into account what’s attainable. Mapping out your plan before diving in will also set the business up to operate as a true end-to-end team, instead of a collection of silos the only interact at cross-functional project meeting. 

Business growth is incredibly multi-faceted and heedful of constantly evolving customer needs and a market that demands agility. If you’re not regularly considering your challenges, value opportunities, and actions that will turn them into reality, then your path to growth is stalling. 

To dive deeper into what this process could look like in your particular business case, feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation session and I’m happy to discuss further.

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