How to supercharge growth in your business
Follow these four principles to take your company to its next level of development.Dr Stephen Bence December 9, 2015
With the business world's seemingly relentless focus on high growth technology start-ups, it’s easy to forget that businesses of all sizes and sectors are concerned with ways in which they can take their business to the next level.
It may not be as exciting, but the truth is that, with the application of solid growth principles, any established business can transform its fortunes and supercharge its success.
The last two decades of my career have been dedicated to finding the right formula for doing just this, with the following four principles standing any company in good stead for expansion:
Recognise when you are the bottleneck and that you need to let go
Most ambitious entrepreneurs will face the same problem at some point: how to scale up given the limited capacity of the founder or founding team.
The temptation in these circumstances is to say, “I’ll hire someone else just like me and that will double my capacity”. This is a mistake. You will never find anyone like you, with the same passion for your business (and if you did, they would probably be more interested in setting up their own venture).
Instead, delegate. I have seen a remarkable number of businesses fail to grow as a result of their founder clinging on to the sense that they and only they can do critical tasks: it’s rarely the case and will hold you back in the long term.
Reinvent your business and step back
Acknowledging this issue of the limited capacity of a founder is just the first step - dealing with it may require a fundamental rethink of your business model to ensure that your business can continue to flourish without a sole reliance on you.
The enemy of growth is complacency
For example, if your business has grown as a result of sales to your personal network you must find ways to secure customers by different means, ones that can be adopted by your sales force. Once you’ve done that you can step away from the day to day, and spend more time focussing on the strategic direction of the business.
Long term the less reliance there is on you, the better your long-term chance of rapid growth without burning yourself out.
Focus on what customers really want
Efficiency is incredibly important, but the first thing to get right is your product or service. Those who forget this end up creating a highly efficient “machine” producing something customers don’t value. When you are small you have time to fix whatever is wrong, but when you scale up you simply won’t have time.
So, examine critically what your customers really want and strip out anything that doesn’t add value, really challenging your assumptions about this.
Only then focus on efficiency
Think about the most important processes in your business and write them down (not only does this help to focus the mind but it acts as a handbook for junior employees). Then look at how each process can be achieved more efficiently (ideally simultaneously improving them and certainly without losing quality). For example, many sales teams prefer to make initial contact via email, whereas telephone is generally both more efficient and more effective.
Simple, efficient and effective processes are not only more scalable but they can generally be conducted by lower paid staff. Training may well be needed; perhaps the sales team feels uncomfortable picking up the phone or doesn’t know what to say when they connect.
The enemy of growth is complacency and as you change the ways in which you do business, it is essential you continually review what isn’t working, making adjustments as necessary.
Dr Stephen Bence is Founder and Chairman of Beauhurst, which tracks fast growing private companies and their investors in the UK – a Bloomberg for private companies. He is also Director of Strategy of Vardags, the top family law firm for high net worth individuals, which recently placed 46th in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 of the fastest growing companies in the UK.