Growth: Considerations in Disruptive Times
Aspiring to growth for leaders and entrepreneurs alike is not a one size fits all proposition – options include top line growth, profitable bottom line growth, sustainable growth, explosive growth, and more.
The disruptive world of today offers so many dimensions to consider for achieving growth aspirations – many of which were not present in decades or even years past. Disruption is everywhere and where business models and growth are concerned, disruption is a force to consider more than ever.
There are no magic bullets, or secret formulas, but evidence of some foundational considerations have emerged in my own experience and research on how to develop a growth strategy in disruptive times. Consideration by the leadership (team or entrepreneur) of these elements, sometimes or even often overlooked, can provide remarkable insight and yield better results.
1. Know your current customers and don’t run them off while in pursuit of new ones.
If you are not a startup, but a going concern at some level, assure you have rich and meaningful insight into why the customers you already have chose you. Assumptions and guessing about this are dangerous. Take measures to know what your current loyal customers and the influencers in current clients really “look” like and why they bought from you in the first place.
Eroding this base should be avoided in nearly every scenario seeking sustainable growth – it’s just bad math (i.e. plus one, minus two kind of math).
2. Know your current and potential competition.
Eyes wide open here. Make sure your team considers honestly the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your competitors. It is dangerous to do this inside your leadership team’s comfortable bubble of perception as blind spots can occur. Outside in objectivity and incorporation of diverse perspectives are critical.
3. Consider how high (or low) the barriers to entry are for your approach.
Disruptive factors have in many ways significantly reduced barriers to entry for just about any business. Examples of disruptions created by everything from technology (Moore’s Law, cloud computing), to how word spreads (viral social media and mobile computing), to how capital can be raised (crowdsourcing), to where and how manufacturing and assembly can take place are everywhere. Challenge yourself or your team consider what the barriers to entry are for your model – the lower the barriers to entry, the faster you will have to be successful to achieve growth, and even then, you have to consider what it will take to sustain such growth.
4. Developing a strategy is not a “waste of time” or the enemy of innovation.
Strategy has gotten a bad rap as something that is not so cool or useful among some leadership teams or entrepreneurs. It is sometimes disparaged as a “waste of time.” My experience has been that if viewed at its essence, “strategy” is nothing more than the allocation of scarce resources to a set of objectives (the words of a wise mentor of mine many years ago.) What entrepreneur or leader today faces infinite resources?
And then of course, the disruptive world will keep changing. Revisit and measure your plan in a regular cadence and with the appropriate humility and integrity. You should be in much better position for the inevitable roller coaster, however, if you considered the elements above in advance!
Are there other overlooked elements for developing growth plans in turbulent times you can share?