Updated: Mar 12, 2021
Like many start-ups during this period of Lockdown, we at GrowthBuilders, have taken time to focus our strategy and prioritise our efforts. Now, as we emerge into a ‘new normal’ for the world of business, it is more important than ever to make a targeted plan to steer your business on a path to growth. So, how do winning businesses plan? Here are our six steps to success:
1. Know your business
Ask yourself the right questions: How well do you know your business? Consider sitting down with team to look through the following:
What information do you use to make decisions? How frequently do you check this information? What key metrics do you measure performance against? Where do you make the most profit? Where do you make the least profit? What opportunities are there within your business? Where will your growth come from? What could hold you back? Are you too reliant on key customers / key suppliers? What resources (staff and assets) and cash do you have to help you grow?
Having the right data at your fingertips is key to making this assessment. Your finance system, CRM system and sales system should be integrated to provide you with near real-time data to inform your decisions.
2. Know your market
How well do you know your customers? Not only who they are or where they are based but do you fundamentally understand what is important to them and what their core values are? Is your business aligned to what really matters to your customers?
How well do you know your competitors, what they do well and what they don’t do so well? Can you identify any opportunities for your business here? Are there good barriers to entry which prevent new disrupters from attacking market share? Can you effectively differentiate what you offer from what your competitors offer?
Do you understand the key market trends impacting on your business, such as new developments in technology, changes in social trends or new legislation on the horizon which may change the way you do business?
There is a wealth of external market information available to businesses of all sectors. Google Analytics, pipeline data and CRM data can also give you a good insight into those that engage with your business and where you get the most traction. Identify the most relevant data sources for your business and ensure you can pull this data into a useable format quickly and easily.
3. Use realistic assumptions
Your assumptions for the future should be grounded in fact and supported by the underlying data in your business. You need to use historical performance data from reliable sources to develop a picture of your business’ current position and the current position of the market. Can you source reliable data on your competitors to really understand their behaviour and what has worked for them in the past?
The assumptions you draw from this analysis need to be constantly checked and adjusted to changes in the market and the environment in which you operate. Define them clearly, write them down and refer back to them regularly so you can refine the accuracy of these assumptions.
4. Protect the downside
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Assess whether you are overly dependent on one product line, one customer or one supplier and take action to protect against this risk. Consider if you are overly focused on one market / one type of customer and consider diversifying to mitigate against this risk.
Always prepare a worst case scenario forecast so you can have a contingency plan in place to quickly respond when needed. Revisit your plans regularly to adjust these to changing circumstances.
5. Be agile
Constantly monitor your business and your market so you can respond quickly and decisively. Use this horizon monitoring to proactively seize and create opportunities, don’t be reactive to the environment around you.
Ensure you have the right data and information at your fingertips at the right time to enable your business to be agile. Consider how well your systems are integrated and automated to provide a clear and timely view of your business.
6. Be open to change
There is only one thing that is guaranteed in any plan, it will change. Successful businesses anticipate and embrace change, seizing the opportunities that this change creates.
Adopting a step by step approach to planning means that you are well placed to learn from what worked well and what didn’t work so well to improve for the future.