When you’re running a business, growth should always be a priority. It doesn’t always have to be your top priority, but unless you have half an eye on opportunities to expand your customer base or offering, you might find you lose out to hungrier, more alert rivals and are swiftly frozen out of your marketplace.
That doesn’t mean any opportunity for growth is a good one, though. In some cases, growth that is too fast or ill considered can undermine your business in important ways, either setting back brand building work you’ve been doing or exposing your business to the very real risk of closure!
Today we’re taking a look at those risks, and what you can do to minimise them, and enable safe, long term growth for your business.
- Financial Risk
All growth requires resources – financial and personal. You need money to buy more products, to rent more or bigger premises, to fund advertising, and more! This money has to come from somewhere – either your reserves, if you keep a deep war chest, from borrowing (which will need to be returned with interest) or from investment (in which case you offer up your independence). Any of these can be a risk – if your new venture takes longer than projected to pay for itself, you might find it a struggle to pay the bills, and it could even overbalance and risk the closure of your existing, successful business!
- Brand Risk
Your brand is a vital tool in your arsenal – possibly your most valuable asset. It’s the character customers assign to your business, to allow them to relate to it on a personal level. The Waitrose Brand is not just made from that distinctive green colour scheme and Christmas Adverts, but how every interaction in store and online has played out. It comes from the quality of the products, the interactions with staff, even the hold music played on the customer service line.
If you grow unwisely – if you open branches in the wrong place, or that don’t live up the standards you’re trying to establish for your brand, if you add products that don’t make sense in context with the rest of your offering, you risk undermining or outright harming the brand you’ve built and driving away your customers.
Avoiding Those Risks
Either alone, or with a trusted consultant, make a plan for what you want your growth to look like. How does it work with your company’s consolidating brand, and where do you need to be financially before growth is safe?
If you’re interested in growth consulting, London is a good place to start looking for an agency to fit your needs and resources.
There are two important forms of research that give you the data to make these plans confidently: market research and competitor research.
Market research tells you what your customers want and what they think of you – this allows you to fill their needs and lean into your building brand perception rather than undermining it.
Competitor research tells you what your competition is up to – who to worry and when they’re likely to make important moves. This allows you to schedule things like product launches and sales in their own window and avoid the risk of being overshadowed. Finding the white space to work in is often the key to safe growth!