What is a ‘growth phase’?
A growth phase will mean different things in different businesses dependent on their level of ambition and where they are right now. To some SME Business Owners it will mean an increase in customers and sales, to others it’ll be about adding to the team or moving to a bigger office, and to others it could mean finding an investor, acquiring another business, or any other possible scenario.
When a business has plateaued or found a comfort zone, growth can be daunting and potentially risky so it takes good reason to make a push for growth. Consider the following three focus areas and ask yourself, “What are the signs that my business is ready for growth to the next level, and what is that next level?”
A) Signs within yourself:
Are you frustrated with your progress or dissatisfied with your level of success in some way, whether your turnover, size of your team, the reach of your products or services, the amount of money you are taking out of the business personally etc? Maybe you feel bored with things the way they are and want a change, or you could just want more, or better, or different.
Put simply, is (or was) your vision for the business bigger than your current reality?
Or maybe you can’t think of why not to grow but can’t think of ways to do it, or how without taking too much of a risk. Have you taken action to start making it happen and then bottled it?!
B) Signs within your business:
Do you keep finding yourself hitting some form or barrier to achieving more, perhaps experiencing a catch-22 due to limitations of resources, i.e. need a bigger team to make more sales yet need sales to afford a bigger team.
Are you unable to satisfy the demand customers are making of you so “dropping balls” and struggling to deliver the level of service you pride yourself on? Or perhaps you have underutilised resources or cash locked up in stock.
Have you laid the foundations in the business to a point and are now stuck somehow? New products or services that have taken time to develop and now need to get out there to get a return on your investment?
If you had access to money would you be able to put in place what you know you already want to do or achieve?
Perhaps you have not grown enough to exit properly or truly maximise the value of the business. Or maybe you aren’t quite at the point where you can take time off without the business collapsing in your absence!
C) External signs:
Have you identified a new opportunity, a gap in the market or a chance for vertical or horizontal integration?
Maybe you have a competitor who is struggling due to limited resources and capacity to deliver. Maybe they have recently closed and you have the chance to capitalise on it.
Perhaps the market for your products or services is growing in some way, or your customers are asking if you can do more.
Do you find that price is of little consideration or that you could sell more today if you had more to sell? Maybe you have little or no competition and you want to ensure you grab the chance while you can.
If this is resonating with you in some way or another then you could well be ready for a growth phase or at least ready to start thinking seriously about your next growth phase.
Hopefully this has given you a lot of food for thought. And, if you are thinking of making moves to drive your business to the next level then ensure you do some robust planning to give yourself the best chance of getting there.
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