In This Article
In this article
Learn about the different growth categories and the steps you can take to develop a growth strategy that works for your business.
“The problem is that I don’t know what the most impactful growth strategy is for my business.”
As business founders and entrepreneurs, how often do we ask ourselves this? Regularly – and the answer always seems to be evolving and changing. Whether you’re an affiliate just starting with building your website, or growing a scalable SaaS business and wanting to land your first customers, you face the challenge of finding the tactics and strategies that will drive the best results for your business.
You’ll ask yourself questions like:
- What do I do to get sales?
- What will work best?
- How do I not waste my precious resources – money, time and energy?
As a second-time entrepreneur, I’ve put down my thoughts and tips for how to take that next step into driving growth for your business.
Tip 1: Know the Basics
When business growth comes up people talk about – online, offline, above the line, below the line, acquisition, retention, life time customer value etc.
In my experience in growing businesses, I’ve found growth activities to fall into three categories:
- Marketing – establishing yourself and your brand as a thought-leader in your field
- Business Development – building growth partnerships and channels
- Sales– having a pipeline of conversations that can lead to paying customers
Each category has different types of activities, and all play an important role in driving business growth. You need to be doing activities in each of these categories in varying degrees to generate revenue. The combination is influenced by a number of factors including:
- Business maturity
- Product type
- Size of market
- Accessible to customers
- Degree of need
Marketing – Paid and Organic, Offline and Online
Elements to build a marketing program are audience, message, channel, frequency. The formula will depend on your expertise, budget, timeframes, and goals. There are a number of helpful resources out there – for example, we’ve put together a marketing guideline that highlights the purpose and value of each digital marketing channel at your disposal.
Depending on who your target audience is and where they are, you’ll be able to choose the right channels and messages to reach them.
Business development is about building productive and mutually beneficial relationships. It’s not only about understanding who can act as a resource to help your business, it’s also about understanding what their motivations are and how you can help support their objectives. For example, a productive approach to do this is reaching out and discovering how you can be helpful to associations, influencers, partners, suppliers, or even potential clients.
Most people think sales is about convincing people to say yes — and in some cases it is. There is also a different perspective to take. In my experience, sales can create an adversarial relationship which can cost your business money.
My approach has always been to be helpful and resourceful in the client buying cycle. Provide supporting resources, guide them through the journey, and take a partnership approach, even in a SaaS-model business. I have found this creates longevity, stability, profitability and future referrals.
Most importantly, sales is a numbers game. The way to close more clients is to have more conversations. When clients work to their own timeframes, we as a business use less resources in terms of both time and money to get to the same result.
Tip 2: Consider Your Strengths to Find the Approach That’s Right for Your Business
With all this taken into consideration, what’s the right approach for your business?
The most important step is simply to start and start where you are the strongest.
Throughout all the businesses I have worked for, including the ones I’ve started, the trick has always been about spending time upfront to do discovery and planning. The old saying goes: “Measure twice and cut once.” To build revenue, like any other part of your business you need to know what you have, what you’ll need, and most importantly, what’s going to make the most difference. If you don’t know what makes the most difference, then you need to investigate and cautiously experiment.
Typically the best place to start is where you are most comfortable and familiar – even if everyone else is doing something different. You need to work to your strengths and not the latest fads. It’s also very important to understand for every industry and every business there are operating and revenue norms that you need to be aware of. These norms usually set the boundaries. This is not to say you need to stay in the boundaries to be successful – you just need to know where the boundaries are.
Tip 3: Follow the Ripple Effect
This one seems obvious and yet many founders forget this. Ask your network for help! You are strongest where you have the most direct contact – like where a pebble drops into the pond. The point of contact where the stone hits the water has the greatest impact and creates the most movement. An example looks something like this:
In this example, the ripples build out, starting from the point of greatest contact to least. This framework will give you focus, ensuring that you always come back to the place/activities that you know make the most impact.
To create an impactful framework for yourself, consider the following questions:
- What is the key problem or point of pain we solve for our clients?
- Who would benefit from this solution the most?
- Referrers – who has close relationships with these types of potential clients?
- Influencers – who influences these potential client group?
- What messages will be mean the most at each of the different stages of the buying process?
- Where do these potential clients read, listen and watch – both offline and online
- How easy is it for my ideal client to find my business?
- Have you clearly documented the steps needed to start working with your business?
Once you have answered the questions above, you now have the information needed to develop a growth strategy.
Tip 4: Making it Work for You
To be most productive with growing your business, it’s important to really know your business and what’s right for you. Have a theory of what you think needs to happen and the way you’ll be able to make it happen. This gives you a clear focus and also ensures that you are not just being busy, you are being productive and moving the needle towards your goal.
Once you have this theory, the next step is to question everything and most importantly listen to the answers. The feedback you get from your conversations or from your analytics will help you refine your theory or rewrite it. Test and continue to test.
Most importantly, trust your intuition. You are the one who knows your business, your solution, your market, your industry and most importantly your goals. Sometimes it is about having the courage to step out and follow what you know is right for you.
Finally, be prepared to be successful!
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