Entrepreneurship: Business Growth
Business Growth: Entrepreneurship
Growth is crucial for any business venture. An organization that does not prepare effectively for growth risks falling behind its competitors. In order to execute growth effectively, an organization needs to put in place a growth plan. This text examines the importance of a growth plan, its core components, and the specific strategies that an organization could use to realize growth.
Entrepreneurship: Business Growth
What is a growth plan?
Every entrepreneur with a successful venture will often take time to sit down and speculate about the future of their business. A growth plan is a roadmap detailing the specific strategies that an entrepreneur plans to use to take their business to the next level in a smart and disciplined way. It is meant to guide entrepreneurs and reduce their risk as they grow their business. A growth plan basically includes three core components: i) a clear picture of the business’ strengths, weaknesses and opportunities; ii) a vision for where the business us expected to be (in revenue terms) in the next 3-5 years, and iii) an action plan for achieving this vision, that is the specific strategies to be used, who will be responsible for implementing them, and by when.
The overriding aim of having a growth plan is to get the key players in the business on the same page, thinking about the organization’s future. Growth plans are created through a series of steps that include:
i) Establishing a value proposition
This involves understanding the specific factors that set one’s business apart from the competition. The entrepreneur needs to establish what makes them relevant in a particular market; that is, why customers come to them for a particular service or product (Biederman). Some businesses compete on uniqueness, whereas others such as Walmart compete on the basis of price. This step is about identifying what benefit or value only you can provide (Biederman).
ii) Identifying one’s ideal customers
Every entrepreneur gets into the market to solve a problem for a particular client group (Biederman). This step is focused on identifying whether that particular group constitutes the business’ ideal customers. If not, then who is it that the business is serving, and what tactics can be used to make the business appealing to the ideal customer group?
iii) Defining business growth goals
The entrepreneur needs to articulate the business’ revenue goals clearly. They need to state exactly where they expect the business to be in the next 1-2 years (in terms of revenue), and what they expect to have been achieved (Biederman). Revenue projections need to be realistic, and ought to be based on how the business has performed over recent periods (Biederman)
iv) SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is an analysis of the business’ current strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Here, the entrepreneur will be required to understand how their strengths have led them to maintain their position in the market, how their weaknesses have worked for competitors, and how the venture stands to benefit if the opportunities present in the market are capitalized on. Understanding one’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities is crucial in setting realistic revenue projections and developing effective growth strategies.
v) Developing tactics and strategies
The final step involves developing the specific tactics and strategies to be used in achieving the required growth. Tactics should capitalize on the identified strengths while improving on the weaknesses. They should focus on the business’ value proposition, and how the same can be used to attract the ideal customer group and consequently, realize the business’ revenue goals. The entrepreneur should clearly articulate who is responsible for what strategy, and when the when it ought to be completed. If one’s goal, for instance, is to achieve a 20% growth in revenues over the next 5 years, they could use such growth tactics as acquiring small, promising ventures; investing in talent and training; expanding the product line, and so on.
Failure to prepare a growth plan could have some serious implications including declining innovation, lack of commitment to growth on the part of employees, lack of accountability in the organization as it is not clear who is responsible for what in the organization’s progression, and a lot of wasted effort and resources.
Question 2: What are Milestones and Implementation?
Milestones are formal breaks that allow an entrepreneur and their team to evaluate whether the business is progressing in the way they planned. The growth plan will often state in general terms, what the company’s direction is (Schill 13). One goal could state, for instance, that the business plans to achieve 20% growth in revenue in the first two years of the plan’s implementation. This could be translated into a measurable milestone, say ‘in the first year of implementation, sales will grow by 10%, measured on the first day of our financial year.’ This milestone makes it possible for the team to assess progress along the way, and to sharpen their expectations about ultimate failure or success (Smith et al. 18). Moreover they provide means for the team to take measures early enough to either correct ineffective strategies or to enhance the expected benefits of the milestone program (Smith et al. 18).
A number of best practices need to be observed in the implementation of milestones to make them more effective. First, milestones should be set for each goal formulated in the process of developing the growth plan (Smith et al. 18). Secondly, the entrepreneur needs to designate who will be responsible for each milestone. In the example above, the milestone will most likely be designated to the sales manager. Such designation is likely to increase accountability among team members. Moreover, it gives the entrepreneur a go-to person to check in with as the deadline approaches — in the case of the milestone above, for instance, the entrepreneur could meet with the sales manager in the last month of the current financial year to review sales figures that indicate growth towards the targeted sales level. A third best practice is to assign a budget to each milestone — this will help managers understand the amount of resources they have to reach specific milestones. In the case of the milestone above, for instance, a budget for advertising and extra staff would need to be assigned to the sales department to enable it reach the milestone. Finally, milestones need to be reviewed as end dates pass so that one is able to identify those milestones that were missed and take corrective action (Smith et al. 17).
Question 3: Discuss business operations connectivity and growth
The diffusion of the internet has increased the degree of connectivity among people on a large scale, making the world a global village. The same is the case in the business sphere — networking has made it easier for people within an organization to connect easily and share ideas regardless of their geographical locations (Gwin 36). Today, thanks to such tools as LAN and WAN, an employee in the sales department can interact virtually, and share knowledge with their colleague in purchases, whose department is located on a different floor or even miles away in a different state. This is referred to as business operations connectivity — the process by which different sections of an organization — employees, employers, customers, suppliers, and so on – are linked together and interconnected for the easy sharing of knowledge and information.
This is one strategy that businesses could use to stimulate growth. Business operations connectivity stimulates organizational growth in several ways. First, it increases accessibility to persons both inside and outside the organization (Gwin 36). An employee can easily access and seek clarifications or share knowledge with another employee or their supervisor through social networking sites such as Skype. This enhances efficient use of staff time and eliminates the need to move and meet one’s audience physically. As a result, employees get to achieve more in less time, and overall productivity is enhanced.
Moreover, it is possible for a supervisor to hold virtual meetings with their subordinates even when they are away from the organization. This helps to ensure continuity in business operations, and prevents a situation where work stalls or has to be postponed because the supervisor is not around. Ultimately, overall efficiency is increased and the organization is able to produce more.
The organization is also able to easily and conveniently share information on products and services with customers, and to obtain immediate feedback on the same. This accessibility and speed enhances the process of research and development, enabling the organization to stay above the competition.
Besides improving knowledge sharing, business operations connectivity also helps in the effective monitoring of goals and milestones. Rather than making a physical trip to the sales department to obtain sales data, an organization’s CEO can simply check sales levels for a particular period instantly via the office network. This not only saves time, but also helps the organization conveniently assess the effectiveness of its milestone program and take corrective action early enough.
Generally, therefore, business operations connectivity offers attractive prospects for organizational growth.
Biederman, Rob. “7 Key Steps to a Growth Strategy that Works Immediately.” The Entrepreneur Magazine, 2015. Web. Accessed at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240853
Gwin, Catherine. Sharing Knowledge: Innovations and Remaining Challenges. Washington, D.C: World Bank Publications, 2003. Print.
Schill, Nancy. Coach-in-Box Goal-setting Workbook: Target and Achieve your Goal at Work. Austin, TX: ExecIntel Solutions, 2014. Print.
Smith, Janet, Smith Lester, Smith Richard, and Bliss Richard. Entrepreneurial Finance: Strategy, Valuation and Deal Structure. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011. Print.
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