The Elements of Growth:
- Can-do culture of innovation and success
- Skilled and motivated team of employees with training plans in place
- Realistic plan with achievable targets along the way
- Enthusiastic management team with a variety of complementary skills
- Organizational structure with procedures that are simple and meaningfully defined
- Leadership ability and the ability to communicate it.
A SWOT Analysis for Growth:
If you do not have all the above going for you, determine how to get it by gathering your management team and analyzing each area of your company for strengths and weaknesses: marketing, sales, production, technology, human resources, customer service, etc.
Strengths (Internal to Organization)
- What are we doing especially well?
- What resources do we have that other businesses don’t have?
- What are our key competitive advantages?
Weaknesses (Internal to Organization)
- What do we do poorly?
- What activities detract from what we do best?
- Where can we improve?
Opportunities (External Environment)
- What opportunities exist for our business?
- What trends face our industry?
- What changes are occurring with our customers, i.e. age, spending habits, values, residences?
- What changes are coming to our industry’s regulatory environment?
Threats (External Environment)
- What obstacles do we face?
- Are there new competitors entering the marketplace and what is their strategy?
- Is there a threat from planned regulatory change?
- Is there a threat from global competitors?
Flatten Your Organization – Improve Communications – Delegate
1. The Flat Organization. Traditional organizations, where divisions along the chain of production are aided by support units.. As they grow organizations find they can benefit by decentralizing into semi-autonomous units (i.e. Toyota Management System) that manage individual plants, products, lines of business with parallel support operations for HR, purchasing and so on. Perhaps you are a five person shop, but the same ideal of cross-functional teams can lead to better efficiency than under an all powerful leader. Providing your managers with autonomy to make decisions within the parameters of the organization’s mission, goals and strategy.
2. Communications are Key. Removing the barriers to communication are more likely in a flatter organization. Information flows more easily across self-managed units with some degree of cross -functional individual responsibility. In this way knowledge sharing, flexibility and speed of response to change are maximized.
3. Delegate. Growth is not possible if you (the business owner or entrepreneur) are still doing everything. One of the most necessary skills of management is delegation. Take your delegating to the next level:
- You are delegating mission-critical tasks that you once did yourself.
- You delegate tasks that you once did better and faster yourself.
- You set up reporting stages and mentorship reports for employees that have been assigned complicated tasks that you once handled so that they can accomplish them successfully.
- You determine which tasks to delegate consciously while deciding how your time is best spent, so that task is not just delegated simply because it remains undone.
- You give your management teams autonomous decision-making and spending authority, either individually or as a group.
This is not an exhaustive list – your analysis will uncover many others. The next section will discuss the various expansion strategies, addressing some of the risks outlined above.