The art of business growth in 7 simple steps

The growth of a business doesn’t usually happen organically – there is skill involved in steering a business toward not just expansion, but generating sustainable returns. Here, PLAN Australia’s chief executive, Phil Quin-Conroy, shares his seven top tips for steering a business towards a prosperous future.

Who wants to grow their business? I suspect the majority of business owners reading this will answer with a resounding “yes!”

Growth is central to our own business proposition, and we live and breathe our motto “Excellence through evolution”. We believe that having aspirations to grow and expand is an important quality not only for business owners, but that ambition and a desire to grow is an important driving factor in everyday life.

It reminds me of a story told to me by a teacher about her Year 3 children discussing their career aspirations…

When one little girl was asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, the teacher was impressed to hear her say she wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. She was, however, surprised when her best friend announced she wanted to be a bank robber, because she knew her friend would be able to get her off all the charges. So, while it’s good to be bold with your aspirations, maybe not that bold!

A number of businesses we talk to feel uncertain about their ability to grow, and in our experience, this is often a result of thinking narrowly about their opportunities to grow.

My growth strategies are inspired by a piece of research by global business consultancy McKinsey & Co called “Staircases to Growth”. This research looks at how the best companies expand, and shows how you can apply the same theory to your business.

You’ll be glad to hear that I won’t be advocating big, bold, complex leaps – rather, a series of measured steps that can become a staircase to achieve growth.

These growth strategies can be implemented in different ways. They can be pursued alone, in tandem or sequentially. It will depend on what is right for your business. Some will be more appealing than others, depending on your starting point:

1. New com petitive arenas
There is a wealth of opportunities to grow your business by providing a more holistic range of services to clients. Save your clients their precious time by being their go-to for all their needs.

2. Geographic expansion
Moving into new locations can allow you to easily grow by replicating your strategy in different markets. On the large end of the scale, this can involve opening new offices in different locations, but on the small end of the scale, you can simply increase the distance you will travel to reach new clients.

3. Acquisition and consolidation
This is a commonly pursued growth strategy and there are valid arguments both for and against acquisition or consolidation. If you do want to go ahead with a consolidation plan, the key is to have a well-thought-out strategy in place.

4. Value delivery innovation
Self-reflection can be the hardest thing for a business. Take advantage of data analytics services to give your business a health check and show you where there is room to innovate your value delivery chain.

5. Product/service innovation
Making sure your offering is market-leading will always mean you stand out from the pack. Harness the power of technology and take advantage of professional development opportunities to ensure the service you provide is innovative, and the best your customer can get.

6. Attracting new customers
At the heart of any business is the need to satisfy your customers. What would a growth strategy be without a step that addressed attracting new business? It’s important not to overlook the basics, and ensure you have a clear referral strategy and database management system in place.

7. Maximising existing customers
The last step to growth is how to maximise your current customers. Customer loyalty is so important, and retaining this is something all business operators should strive to achieve. Putting all of these strategies together, you can see how they can turn into a staircase to growth... a stairway to
heaven perhaps!

Phil Quin-Conroy is chief executive of loan aggregation group PLAN Australia. He has over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, and has previously led the insurance and licensee services department at MLC. He has a passion for working with entrepreneurial, self-employed business owners and is able to draw on a global perspective, gained from time working in Australia, Asia and the UK.

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