Small business owners say that growth is a top priority, yet SunTrust Research of 515 small business owners found that only half of companies create a growth plan, and of those, just 13% share those plans broadly. But the fastest growing companies are 1.5 times more likely to have built and shared a growth plan. The act of thinking through a growth plan, committing to goals and creating advocates turns growth plans into business results.
Growth-minded owners should build a robust growth plan and declare it boldly to their business network to solicit the ideas, contacts and capital they need. Learn the four steps to create your growth plan and put your business on the path to growth.
Four steps to a successful growth plan
Don’t confuse a growth plan with a business plan. A business plan documents every aspect of your business - from research and development to financing to operations. A growth plan outlines how a business will grow, including goals, strategies and immediate next steps. A growth plan fits on a piece of paper and is never out of a business owner’s reach.
There are four steps to a successful growth plan:
1. Set growth goals – Business owners say that setting goals and targets is the most important step to find growth, yet less than half say that they are doing a good job of it.1 Stated growth goals show your commitment to growth and make you accountable to your advisors. Successful growth plans flow from aggressive but realistic goals, so take the time to get them right.
2. Select growth strategies – “How” you are going to grow sets your growth roadmap into action. Think through all the paths toward growth and make choices about which to pursue and, as importantly, which to prune. Top growth strategies include marketing to profitable niches, building online/social media presence and developing new products and markets.1
78% of small business owners cite finding new customers as the top sales growth opportunity1
3. Define next steps – Strategies are necessary, but the detailed “to-do’s” often make or break a plan. Writing out your next steps will keep you on track and expose any gaps in your plan. Zero in on the staff and resource requirements for increased business, so you won’t be scrambling when growth shows up. Don’t forget that growth often requires more working capital. Tally your growth funding requirements for working capital, new staff and new equipment and secure access to the growth capital you need to avoid shortfalls.
4. Share growth plan – The more people you talk to about your growth plan, the more likely you are to reach your goals. High-growth companies are 1½ times more likely to have a broadly shared growth plan and twice as likely to share that plan with 15 or more people.1 Business owners that share their plans benefit from ideas, referrals and support. Slower-growing companies only share their growth plans with an average of two people. They miss the opportunity to rally their business network behind them.