It takes dedication to not only start a business, but to develop it properly. No matter the current size of your business, riding the highs and lows can be challenging. And in order to ride these waves successfully, you need to set ambitious yet realistic expectations of what you want to achieve.
In order to have a successful ride, you need to have a growth strategy. With this guide, we want to cover what a business growth plan is, what it usually includes, and the perfect steps to develop your own plan.
What is a business growth plan?
This plan, like others you need for your business development, is a thorough framework of where you want to lead your business in terms of objectives, strategies, and plans.
In order to have a successful plan, you need to have a long-term mentality, usually considering the trajectory of the next year or two. In it, you should include growth strategies you want to implement and a system to measure their success in each business quarter. This way you can adjust the approach as you need in order to meet the goal you’ve set for yourself and your business.
Key elements of a growth plan
A complete business growth plan should include these sections:
Business Goals: What is the direction you want to lead your business towards? What is your main focus? Once you have this question answered, you can set a path for yourself.
Customer Segments: What can your past sales tell you? Is there a particular customer segment that seems to be growing? This section will help you see where you need to concentrate your efforts for your customers to keep returning.
Objectives: How will you measure your business goals? Get a list of quantifiers to help you keep on track. Make sure these are easy and short, so you’re not too overwhelmed by information, but rather informed and inspired by them.
Competitive Analysis: Who is your competition, and what are they doing? This will help you think of strategies that will differentiate yourself.
Tactics: What are the specific actions you want to take? This can be anything from marketing campaigns, to new products, or even new systems to improve customer experience.
5 steps to develop a business growth plan
Step 1: Set high-level goals
It’s a lot easier to develop this plan if you know where you want to end. For example, setting a goal of how much revenue you want your business to be making long-term will help you figure out the best growth strategy to get there.
So, with these high-level goals, you start at the end and make your way backwards towards the beginning. As business guru Jim Collins says, you need to set “BHAGs”: big, hairy, audacious goals. These are ambitious yet realistic, and you can set them by answering the following questions:
Where do you see your company in 10 years?
How much do you want your business to grow?
How much revenue do you expect?
How many employees do you want to have?
Once you know these, it is much easier to consider a one or two year plan with smaller goals, thinking of the long-term goal. This way, you focus on the battle to win the war. Now let’s take a look at the action part to achieve these goals. These components will adjust depending on the type of business you have and the goals you are setting. These are just a few examples of the goals you can have:
Adding new locations to your business.
Expand to new products.
Sell online across multiple platforms.
Grow your customer base by 40%.
Step 2: Identify inputs and outputs
In order to act, you need to determine your key performance indicators (KPIs). Each goal should have key metrics and results that will help you measure if you’re hitting them.
A reliable strategy that works for this is known as the One Metric That Matters, or North Star. This should be an important metric to base the rest, since it is the number that best represents the value customers receive from your product. For example, for a hotel business, this metric would be the number of nights booked, because it is a clear indication of the product’s value. The busier the hotel is, the higher the chances that customers are having a positive experience and will recommend the hotel to their friends. Remember, your North Star is the direct response to your company’s revenue and retention goals.
Next, you need to set the OKRs, or Objective Key Results. These are the metrics that influence your high-level goals. By setting smaller and more tangible goals, it's much easier to hit the bigger, longer-term ones, since you can see your path actually developing. Make sure your OKRs are easy to manipulate on a small scale that will have greater leverage. As you do this, you will start thinking of the experiments you can run.
Step 3: Growth experiments
In order to grow, you need to change things up. And in order to do this, you need to run valuable experiments. We recommend you consider these experiments carefully, so you don’t fall into the water falling trap. This trap happens when a team continues to add requirements to a project, and it starts taking longer and longer for you to run a new marketing idea or product feature.
When water falling occurs, you end up taking months to implement a new strategy. So, remember to operate in a one or two-week sprint. This way you break down big projects into smaller minimum viable tests (or MVTs), where you get valuable insights and validate whether a big project is worth pursuing or not.
Step 4: Validation process
The MVTs are not the end of the validation process, but rather the beginning. You need to determine if the experiments you’ve set will have a positive impact in your business and, ultimately, your customers.
Set out a method so you can measure the success of the experiments by evaluating the success, effort required by the team and the OKR impacted by the experiment. This will then help you prioritize the best experiments and set a flow that will make it easier to implement.
Step 5: Have accountability
Last but not least, is fostering extreme accountability within your company regarding your growth plan. No matter the team, everyone should be aware of where you are going in terms of goals and their role in the process.
Ready to start growing?
There is no magic recipe to guarantee growth - but there are experts who have dedicated themselves to helping small businesses grow, and One Park Financial is one of them! If you are looking for guidance in how to grow your business and need a financial push to accomplish your growth plan, we can help.
Your business growth is our main goal, and we can connect you with one of our affiliate funders in minutes. Check if you pre-qualify and launch your business to the next level!