Lewis Carroll once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” and at Business Doctors Malta, we believe that such statement harks true even when applied to business growth.

Businesses vary extensively in the size and capacity for growth. Each entity is characterised by various management styles, disparate organisational structures and independence of action. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that sustainable growth is one of the toughest challenges faced by most business leaders.

The following 10-step framework has been devised to help small and medium businesses and their leaders towards developing a successful strategy to achieve breakthrough growth.

1. Ditch the business plan – the first step towards achieving growth within your business is to create a strategy. This needs to reflect your views on the next step forward. It has to evoke something that is living and breathing, and inspiring to everyone in the business. Whereas business plans are primarily number-based, the strategy should start with the words, the story you want to tell.

2. What’s in it for me? – this step asks the business owner to get selfish for once, and question what they’re looking to achieve from their business and where they want to go. Think about yourself and what you believe in. These are your intrinsic values and core beliefs as an individual being which will set your business apart. Setting these shareholder aspirations is the cornerstone to building a strategy that delivers the desired results.

3. Build on firm foundations – what are your values? Why are they important to you? Your values should be the DNA of the whole business, what it is, what it stands for and how it operates. Knowing your values is crucial to making the right decision when recruiting staff, as building a team with a common sense of purpose will pay dividends many times over.

4. What business are you in? – this may sound simple, but really understanding what your customers buy and why, is pivotal in a successful business. Take the example of Black and Decker, they sell power tools etc. – but when a customer purchases a drill they are actually purchasing a hole in a wall. On the other hand, HMV failed to realise that customers bought the music, not the CD, and subsequently fell victim to the digital download revolution.

5. Are you ready to Break Big? – This step is about stepping out of the “now” and visualising how big the opportunity in your market really is. Not what you’re comfortable with, but what could really be achieved. Setting this visionary goal helps you start to think like a bigger business and make decisions accordingly. Even if you only achieve 50-60% of this visionary goal you will still be significantly further forward than if you continued to follow the pedestrian 10% year-on-year growth target that many businesses still adopt.

6. Identify opportunities – recognise that there are opportunities everywhere, but don’t overlook the easy wins with existing customers. As well as looking deeply at the business’s immediate market this step also requires a STEP analysis of the wider environment.

7. Look in the mirror – this step asks the business owner to conduct a GIVES analysis. Identify what the business Great at, where can it Improve, what are its Vulnerabilities, and what gives it its Edge? Pinpointing the vulnerabilities is probably the most challenging quadrant as it is not always easy to be conscious of all them, and even when these are identified, most times it is challenging to rectify these.

Last but not least, ask if the business offering passes the “So what” test? Are you offering what customers want, when they want, where they want and how they want it?

8. Find your edge – whilst most SME’s do not have the buying power or economies of scale to compete purely on cost, they can identify areas of differentiation for their product or service and/or a niche market for their output. Having an edge, a sustainable competitive advantage, is essential to keeping out of the “killing fields” and helps you stand out from the crowd.

9. Surround yourself with the right people – as businesses grow the structure often evolves in a chaotic manner and ends up with “square pegs in round holes”. This step involves taking a blank piece of paper and drawing up the ideal structure for the business and comparing that to the current structure in order to identify gaps. The owner needs to acknowledge their own limitations and what complementary skills are required in the business.

10. Press the reset button – having identified the ideal structure it’s time to follow the 4R’s – retain, retrain, release, recruit. Restructuring the workforce to reflect the ideal structure identified in step nine is easier if the staff have been taken on the whole strategy review journey and been consulted and kept updated on what is happening and why.

Finding the time to put these 10 steps into action will help you greatly in your business venture and allow you to realise its full potential. Seeking professional support can be greatly beneficial in helping you pave the road for successful growth.

If you would like to discuss any of the above steps in more detail, get in touch with your local Business Doctor on www.businessdoctors.com.mt/contact