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Why Every Business Needs A Better Growth Plan

July 20, 2023

According to the recent Business Roundtable survey, growth continues to be challenging in the Post-Covid Era. As we all know, growth is a necessity for a business, if you want to stay ahead of your competition; they are not standing still.

First, let’s address the required elements of best-in-class growth plans. Note: Even if you can answer “yes” to the questions below (very few companies can), by reading further you may learn new best practices to build an even better growth plan. So,

  1. Is your current plan delivering the expected results – profitable growth? 
  2. Is it fully aligned with your strategy and your business goals?
  3. Is it fully customer-centric? Example: Does it factor in the most frequent customer pain points?
  4. Does it enable you to triumph over competitors?
  5. Does your growth plan Include the right success measures?  
  6. Are the measures clear and quantifiable and properly tracked so people can be held accountable?  
  7. Based on those measures, do you have or does your performance management dashboard provide the insights needed to improve business results?  
  8. Was the plan implemented and communicated well? 
  9. Has it been bought into, and adhered to, by those who will use the content to guide their everyday decision?

If you said “no” to any of these elements, read on or go directly to some DIY options to craft a better growth plan.

Now, Does Having a Growth Plan Make a Difference to the Bottom Line?

Biljana Cvetanovski, Eric Hazan, Jesko Perrey, and Dennis Spillecke, in their article, “Are you a growth leader? The seven beliefs and behaviors that growth leaders share,” revealed the following results:

  • Growth leaders across the C-suite are 70 percent more likely than peers to have growth as their top priority. 
  • Growth leaders generate 80 percent more shareholder value than their peers over a ten-year period.
  • About a quarter of companies don’t grow at all.
  • And between 2010 and 2019, only one in eight companies achieved more than 10 percent revenue growth annually.

What’s made the difference? Growth-oriented leaders have a documented growth plan that is fully aligned with their growth strategy. A document that outlines the steps and strategies their business is going to take to achieve its goals and objectives. They focus their thinking and actions toward growth over both short- and long-term horizons.

5 Reasons Why Having a Growth Plan is Mission Critical

A growth plan is your crucial tool for keeping your business on track and enabling it to reach its full potential. Here are five key reasons for creating and implementing a growth plan, it helps you:

1. Define your goals and objectives.

One of the most important reasons to have a growth plan is that it helps you define goals and objectives that are aligned with your strategies. Without clear goals, it’s difficult to measure success and determine the steps you need to take to achieve them. A growth plan allows you to clearly articulate what you want to accomplish and provides a roadmap for how to get there.

2. Stay focused and on track.

Running a business can be overwhelming, with a seemingly endless list of tasks and responsibilities. Without a plan in place, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of what’s going to move the needle. A growth plan provides a clear set of priorities and actions, allowing you to focus on the most important tasks and stay on track. For example, top growth companies integrate a growth plan into every facet of their business.

top-growth companies utilize performance related data and analytics to track their growth in multiple facets of their companies

3. Identify and overcome obstacles.

Every business will face obstacles and challenges along the way. A growth plan helps you anticipate and plan for these obstacles so you can overcome them and continue moving forward. By identifying potential obstacles and developing strategies to overcome them, you can stay on track and achieve your goals. 

4. Stay competitive in a constantly changing market.

A growth plan helps you identify trends and opportunities in the market and develop strategies to take advantage of them. This can help you stay ahead of the competition and stay relevant in a constantly evolving market.

5. Secure funding and investment.

It’s a crucial tool. Investors and lenders want to see that you have a clear plan in place for how you will use their money to grow and succeed. A well-developed growth strategy can help you secure the funding you need to take your business to the next level.

Wise Advice:

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”

This quote by Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, emphasizes that having a plan, including a growth plan, requires planning.

Planning is a process organizations use to create a roadmap for their future direction and activities. The process typically involves analyzing the organization’s current situation within the context of the market and customers, establishing business outcomes, setting performance targets, considering various market and customer scenarios, and developing strategies to capitalize on opportunities and keep threats at bay. Let’s explore five critical components of the planning process in a bit more detail.

  • Begin with the end in mind. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to create a plan without knowing what you want the plan to help you achieve. The specific outcomes, ideally, in customer-centric terms, your organization must achieve to declare success. One example of an outcome might be, “outgrow our competition in ABC market by X% by FYE.” Another might be, “grow our top 3 customer segments with our core products and services by X% per segment by FYE.” Or perhaps, “achieve 20% incremental growth representing X revenue in J and K new industries by FYE.”  If the outcomes are ambiguous or unclear, stop.  Measurable outcomes are essential to the remaining steps. 
  • Know where you are now. To have a plan you need an endpoint, your outcomes, and a starting point. Start points exist within a context. For example, if an outcome to acquire some number of net new customers in a particular market, one piece of context is how many customers you currently have in that market. If you have none, your plan will be entirely different than if you have 80% of the customers in that market already.  Another relevant context for your starting point might be the number and type of competitors and other ecosystem challenges and opportunities in the market you want to pursue.  If there are relatively few small niche competitors with bits and pieces of the market your plan will be different than if there are several large well-established competitors who already have a significant market share. Your strategies, the next steps, are tailored to your organization’s unique situation. 
  • Decide what to do. This is the essence of strategy.  In the words of Jeroen De Flander, author of The Art of Performance, “You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.” Strategy is about choices. Ensure you strategies are aligned with your organization’s mission, vision, purpose, and outcomes. In this step, give some thought to contingencies, and what-ifs, for dealing with obstacles and setbacks.
  • Focus on action, not activity. Often at this stage of the planning process, we have found that companies start to make a list of tasks and milestones.  The action step is a fundamental component because it lays the foundation for the tasks and milestones.  Action is purpose-driven and directly tied to the strategy.  In a plan, your programs reflect your action. They bring your strategy to life. Let’s illustrate the idea. Imagine you have a program, we’ll call it, Operation Customer Connect. This program is tied to a strategy to increase your share of the share of wallet with tier one and tier two customers. The essence of this program is to have key members of your leadership and strategic account teams meet at pre-defined intervals with key members with the specified customer to achieve some specific result with each customer.Armed with the program you can now develop very specific activities for each aspect of the program, such as outreach, meetings, and so on.
  • Measure, Manage, and Monitor. To succeed with the plan, every member of your team, including partners, needs to know the plan, how success will be measured, and the state of progress. Because obstacles emerge, it’s important to know when to hunker down and carry on and when it’s time to adjust. This is the value of a plan when it is a living document.  John C. Maxwell, author of numerous books on leadership said, “plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.” Be willing and ready to pivot

The planning process and the plan organizations are what chart your clear course for growth. Every business needs a planning process to create a roadmap to success and a growth strategy to help define its goals and objectives, stay focused and on track, overcome obstacles, stay competitive in a changing market, and secure funding and investment. 

About the Author:  Laura Patterson is a trusted growth strategy consultant to business leaders within the technology, cybersecurity, financial services, life sciences, and manufacturing industries. She is obsessed with helping companies take a customer-centric, data-to-insights, performance management approach to growth and to making business decisions with more confidence. Laura co-founded VisionEdge Marketing in 1999, serving customers like Cisco, Elsevier, Howden, Kennametal, Tektronix, Southwest Airlines Cargo, and over 200 more worldwide. 

Laura is one of our ISBM Practice Fellows supporting the ISBM member companies.  

“The VisionEdge Marketing process helped us develop and set metrics to create a dashboard, while taking into account our culture and the need for change management.” Cindy Lieberman, Director – Zebra Technologies

Is your company ready to improve your growth plan? With our professional training programs and expert advice, it’s easy to start implementing for results. Ask about how an ISBM Membership can help you get started now, or visit ISBM today to learn more!

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