Planning for Growth

In the beginning, there was the business plan. You knew what you had to do to get your idea up and running and everything seemed so clear. But what if you’re now left wondering why your business hasn’t matured the way you expected?

What you need is a business growth plan, and we’ve put together this handy guide to help you create just that, so you can get a clear idea of what you need to do to push your business forward.

Even if you are happy with the way your company is maturing, regularly reviewing your business plan to encourage growth is the mark of a successful company – as our example below demonstrates – so you’re sure to find our guide worth a look.

Stay grounded

Move forward but don’t forget about your business plan. It shouldn’t be a document you use when you start out then never refer to again, instead use it as a means to identify where you are now and the areas where you need to grow. This way, your plan for growth will always stay relevant to your company’s goals.

Identify where you need resources

In light of your review of your business plan, think about which departments need developing to get you where you want to be. It may become clear that you need to channel your resources into one or more areas of your business and slim down the time and money you’ve been pumping into another, such as spending more on equipment or marketing. This review could also mean revaluating staff levels and distribution, or training the staff you already have. You might want to consider working with apprentices or mentors to grow your departments.

Look at ways to boost your sales

To give you that real sense of growth, it’s natural to look to your sales figures. To make sure you’ll like what you see in the future, there are several ways to boost your sales now.

Increase sales to existing customers

Check you’re delivering on your promises. In the beginning you had the drive to give customers something extra special, to give them a reason to do business with you over other companies. Be sure you are still giving these customers products and services that match the great sales push you began with – this means solving any problems or addressing any underperformances as quickly as possible.

Develop and test out new products and services to offer your existing customers.

Boost sales to new customers

Check you’re up to date with your marketplace research. When you started out, you most likely allocated a good amount of time to this, but it’s vital to stay on top of what people are looking for and adjust your offerings as necessary. This may be to do with the sustainability of your product, or a number of other aspects such as its quality or affordability.

Tempt now customers with new products and services which will demonstrate your growth as a company.

Think profitability

Growth is not just about more sales; you should also take measures to improve your profitability. Once again, this could mean revaluating your staff. Consider what each of your employees brings to your company; this will help you make the most of their skillset, thus giving you the most for your money. Consider ways to cut down your outgoings – for instance, negotiating with your vendors for a more competitive price, or investing in technology that allows you to have online meetings with staff or customers without the cost of travel.

Be inspired: Unilever’s plan for growth

In a very brave, very public move, the multinational consumer goods company Unilever outlined their goals for 2020: to double in size while reducing the impact they have on the environment. The company elaborated on these plans, explaining that they’d improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in their supply chain and halve the environmental footprint left by their products.

As the Guardian reported, Unilever’s plan for growth includes 50 targets spanning social, economic and environmental sectors. It has organised these targets into three main objectives: health and wellbeing, the environment and enhanced livelihoods.

While each of Unilever’s separate brands is in charge of reaching the company’s sustainability targets, Unilever execs are measuring their success by how well the company achieves the overall plan as a whole, meaning everyone is in it together to help the plan reach fruition.

The plan spans every step of Unilever’s chain, from its suppliers to its consumers. The company is aiming high, too, planning to source 100 per cent of its agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources.

The background for Unilever’s plan for growth

Back in 2010, Unilever carried out extensive research to get a fuller understanding of the impact its products were having. It assessed some 1,600 products (representative of approximately 70 per cent of its sales), enforced a new agricultural code and reviewed 250 factories to identify the most effective ways to reduce energy, waste and water use, demonstrating that self-assessment is the root of successful growth.

To find out more about financial planning and growing your business, head over to our knowledge centre and blog.