You've gone through the groans and setbacks nearly every business faces in its early stages, you’ve succeeded, and now you’re ready to scale. So, what’s next?
Starting a company can involve risk along with strategy; growing a company may take the same, but with less risk and much more strategy. Business owners who can design a growth strategic plan may be able to scale their companies faster than those without a plan.
I directly attribute my strategic growth plan to the success of my company, Wakanow, a full-service online travel company that was built to ease online booking travel to and from Africa. Here are some tips to help you strategically grow your company.
1. Never lose sight of the "Why."
All startups have a story to tell, and as your company grows, it may help to try not to lose sight of that story. Telling it over and over may help highlight your product or service. People may quickly understand not only why you created the product, but why you thought the market was in need of it.
From work associates to family, sometimes simply revisiting and retelling your company’s story enables new ideas to surface. Frame it to others in a way that provides full engagement, highlighting factors like the drive it takes for success and that anyone can achieve it. This can also help inspire your employees to put in more effort, and you may be looking at your future key players.
Let’s face it—sometimes we can lose motivation while trying to grow our business. Simply asking the question “why?” motivates us and revitalizes the energy that was a must during the beginning stages. As I grow Wakanow, I continually revisit my story and tell people how difficult it once was to book travel plans in and out of Africa. This same story has helped me build another branch of the business, Destination Africa, which offers travel and touring packages for those seeking to vacation in Africa. I find myself asking "why" at least once a week, and my entrepreneur energy is always restored.
2. Keep the focus on quality.
While strategy may be a must for growth, try to make sure all plans focus on quality. Don't take shortcuts when it comes to your business, whether you're considering saving a few hundred dollars on a less-reputable marketing team or saving the hours needed to research the location and demographics of the area to market your product.
Sometimes when building our plans three or five years out, we spend more time planning growth than nurturing quality. But if the quality of a product is there, growth may be imminent. Consider performing quarterly audits of the overall business on a regular basis, analyzing product and process with individual team/employee reviews. Over a few years, I switched our focus to quality over growth, and our business scaled much quicker.
Focusing on quality can also mean building stronger family/friendship relationships. One way to achieve this may be through good time management. When you're with family and friends, keep work as far away as possible.
3. Network and strengthen customer relations.
Networking may be absolutely critical to the growing stages of a company. It can promote the brand both within and outside your industry. While attending any event with networking opportunities, consider trying to establish rapport with a smile and asking only the simplest questions at first to engage—and try not to make it a sales pitch for your company.
Be passionate and energetic while networking. People who could potentially connect you often pay attention to these traits and may bring you up while they converse with others. Every possibility of spreading your brand can help. And don't forget to follow up in a timely manner.
Take this networking principle and consider adapting it to customer and vendor relations. This may help establish positive long-term relations, which are a must for growth. We have built some seriously strong relationships throughout the years through strong networking, both on a customer and vendor base.
Remember, you may not want to mention growth without having strategy involved. Strategy is typically critical to growth. Businesses that scale without some sort of strategy for planned growth may make more costly mistakes than the rest.
Read more articles about strategic planning.
A version of this article was originally published on February 29, 2016.