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7 important steps to sustainable business growth

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Financial planning needs close consideration

Long-term business growth is something that many companies have the potential to achieve – but only with the right plans and processes in place. To achieve it, you need to have clear strategies in place to overcome challenges and grab opportunities.

Recent research has shown that many companies in the UK feel positive about their prospects for business growth, with 88% of respondents to PwC’s 2018 CEO Survey feeling optimistic about their organisation’s outlook for the coming year.

However, the study also highlighted some of the possible obstacles today’s enterprises may have to overcome on their path to business growth.

If your business has ambitions to expand in the coming years, you will need to have clear strategies in place to meet challenges and seize opportunities. Here are some key steps that can help you on your way to future success.

1. Focus on the fundamentals for business growth

Even with the loftiest ambitions, any business will find it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to achieve sustainable growth without solid foundations. As your organisation expands and sets its sights on what could be achieved in the future, it’s imperative not to lose focus on the day-to-day fundamentals.

Efficient supply chain management to meet regular customer demand, day-to-day accounting and cash flow administration are just a few of the key functions that must run smoothly for a company to have any chance of prospering in the long term.

2. Find the right balance between existing and new business

There is a delicate balance to be struck between dedicating resources to keep your existing client base happy and investing in the acquisition of new business.

It’s important not to become too heavily reliant on current customers, particularly if you operate in a competitive industry where the risk of losing business to rivals is constant.

However, there is also a danger that focusing on the acquisition of new clients could result in the ones you already have being overlooked.

Creating dedicated teams with distinct skill sets to secure existing business and pursue new prospects could help your firm strike the right balance in this area.

3. Keep your people happy

Regardless of current discussions about automation and how concepts such as artificial intelligence could transform the workforce, a company’s most important asset remains its people.

With a happy, engaged and motivated labour force, your enterprise will be in a much stronger position to achieve maximum productivity, efficiency and sustainable success.

Ensure your HR department is regularly engaging with staff to gauge morale and to understand what people want from their jobs.

Factors such as flexibility, autonomy and a good work-life balance are becoming increasingly important to many employees, so it’s possible to show people how much they are valued and increase their job satisfaction without committing to financial rewards.

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4. Prioritise skills

Skills shortages are a big problem for many UK enterprises at the moment, particularly in the digital and technology space. In the 2018 PwC CEO Survey, the availability of skills was cited as one of the top concerns for business leaders, along with cyber threats.

If recruitment is your first strategy to acquire the talent you need, think about ways to maximise your organisation’s appeal to valuable candidates. As well as the basics such as a competitive salary and benefits, showcasing your company culture and corporate citizenship could help to set you apart.

When tried-and-tested recruitment methods fall short, consider other approaches that could yield different results, such as attending job fairs or headhunting via social media.

It’s also important to bear in mind that the skills you need could already be available within your workforce. Dedicated training, upskilling and professional development could turn existing employees into the savvy business decision-makers or tech leaders you need to secure future growth.

5. Don’t fear change

Established business plans and suites of products and services may have served you well thus far but it can be a mistake to assume that what you already have is enough to take your organisation into its next phase of growth.

To evolve, improve and keep up with the competition, your company should be regularly reviewing the effectiveness of its core strategies and what it is able to offer customers.

If you find that marketing methods are no longer delivering results, for example, or certain products are not as attractive to clients as they once were, look for alternative approaches to ensure you stay relevant and agile.

Working in a partnership can help your firm in its bid for business growth
Working in a partnership can help your firm in its bid for business growth

6. Seek productive partnerships

There is a lot to be gained from making the most efficient use of internal resources, of course, but looking outside your organisation can also be a highly effective way of identifying opportunities and expanding your business.

Starting a mutually beneficial collaboration with the right strategic partner can deliver advantages such as tapping into new customer markets, discovering innovative technologies and achieving shared cost efficiencies.

Having a reliable partner can also help to strengthen your company with valuable experience or skills when you need them most.

7. Prepare for disruption

In the fast-paced, ever-changing, modern world, it’s pretty much guaranteed that businesses will encounter some sort of disruption to their established models and practices sooner or later.

Whether it comes from new, innovative competitors, advances in technology or changing customer expectations, disruption is a possibility that your organisation should always be aware of and, if possible, prepared for.

There are various strategies you can employ to improve your readiness for disruption, such as investing in the development of a brand strong enough to withstand change, consistently delivering valuable results for loyal customers, and researching your market to anticipate major shifts.

Adopting flexible, future-proofed technologies can also help to reduce your firm’s exposure to disruption.

Challenges are to be expected, but having the right core strategies in place and powerful business tools on your side will help to ensure your organisation can look forward to a long and prosperous future.

What tactics is your company using to achieve business growth? Share your stories in the comments below.

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