How to Write a Business Growth Plan
Once you’re ready to expand your business, choose what growth strategy you’re going to focus on. Set yourself goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you can use to measure them. Then draw up a business growth plan and get started with it.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, personal, or tax advice. The information contained herein is subject to change and may vary from time to time. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
The process of writing a business growth plan is very similar to the process of writing a business plan. The key difference is the starting point. With a business plan, you are creating a new business from nothing. With a business growth plan, you are looking to develop an established business.
This means that a business growth plan has to ensure that new growth is achieved without compromising the business’ existing operations. With that in mind, here is a simple guide on how to write a business growth plan.
Decide what type of business growth you are going for
There are four main types of business growth. Pick one of them to start with and focus on that. This is especially important if you’re a small business with limited resources.
The main types of business growth are:
Realistically, acquisition isn’t likely to be a viable option for the average small business. In fact, it’s more likely that a small business would try to grow itself to the point where it became an acquisition target for a larger business. It could do so through one or more of the three other strategies.
Organic growth really translates as ‘doing more of what you do well’, rather than making major changes. It’s about figuring out what’s already working well and leveraging it so it works even better.
For example, if you determine that your Instagram Reels do a great job of driving leads to your website, produce more of them. Also post the same reels to TikTok and YouTube to see how they perform there.
Once you find that your organic growth flatlines (as it usually will at some point), look for another area of your business that is performing well and repeat the exercise. If you reach a point when you cannot find another way to develop organic growth, move on to strategic growth.
With small businesses, strategic growth tends to come after organic growth. The main reason for this is that organic growth often requires little to no specific funding. Strategic growth, by contrast, does require a financial commitment.
Strategic growth is about opening up new markets. This can mean getting your existing product or service out in front of new potential customers. It can also mean developing new products or services to upsell to your existing customers.
If you have the resources, do both, but most start with one form of strategic growth. If all goes to plan, the revenue it generates will cover the cost of your next strategic growth move. If it doesn’t, back out quickly with minimal damage and try something else.
This strategy can be applied to businesses at any stage of their development. It’s just as valuable for small businesses as it is for larger ones. Internal growth means doing what you do better. In other words, it’s about continually optimising your operations so that you’re always achieving maximum output with minimum input.
Arguably, this strategy provides the most opportunities for small businesses, because they develop as they grow. For example, they may be able to unlock volume discounts, attract higher-calibre employees or learn how to use technology more effectively.
Identify high-growth opportunities
Once you’ve chosen your growth strategy, look for your highest-growth opportunities within it. For example, if you’re aiming for internal growth, then you would review your current operations to look for areas of improvement.
By contrast, if you’re aiming for organic or strategic growth, then you would look externally. For organic growth, you would research new potential markets for your existing product/service. For strategic growth, you would look for ways to diversify into new areas.
No matter what sort of business growth you want to achieve, you generally want to start with the lowest-hanging fruit. In other words, look for the most accessible opportunities which will start growing your income as quickly as possible. Then use this extra money to help cover the cost of your next growth stage and so on.
For example, if you are interested in expanding overseas, then one obvious place to start would be New Zealand. This would allow you to gain experience managing the process of overseas expansion without having to worry about significant differences in language and/or culture. Once you had this experience under your belt, you could then move on to areas that presented more challenges.
Set your specific goals and KPIs
Having identified one growth opportunity to focus on, you need to set yourself a goal for it. Whatever goal you choose, define it in specific measurable and realistic terms, i.e. set a SMART goal. Once you know what your goal is, decide what your KPIs are and how you will measure them.
For example, if your goal is to increase your market share in a certain area by a certain percentage, your KPIs might include:
improve your ranking on local search engine results
increase the percentage of new customers you acquire from that area
increase the average order value from all customers in that area
Draw up a business plan
Treat your growth opportunity like a new business. Really, that’s what it is, on a small scale. Draw up a business plan for it. As a reminder, the key elements of a regular business plan are:
Organisation and management
Products or services
Sales and marketing
Implement your plan and monitor the results
Implementing a business growth plan is very much like implementing a business plan. The better you prepare, the smoother your path is likely to be. With that said, you should expect there to be at least a few surprises along the way.
The more effectively you track your KPIs, the quicker you’re likely to be alerted to anything unexpected, hence the quicker you’ll be able to respond to it. Don’t let any setbacks dishearten you. Remember, you’ve done it before and you can do it again.
What’s more, you have more experience now. That means you should find it easier to interpret your results and hence to understand when to push forward and when to stand pat or even draw back a little.
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