It’s a question that too many new business owners find themselves asking in nearly every stage of their business. You put in weeks and months (maybe years) of work to lay the foundation of your business, working tirelessly to get it off the ground. You start to see some preliminary success, and you get this amazing feeling of accomplishment.
But then, when your business gets a little stagnant, you start to get unsettling feeling—a feeling of fear.
Your business started out great, but now what? It’s not growing as fast as you had hoped, and you want it to be doing so much better. Between the countless hours of brainstorming, the late nights, and the bottomless cups of coffee, you get that feeling of worry. Worry that you won’t be able to effectively put an end to the stagnation. Worry that your business won’t reach its full potential.
You’re right on the cusp of achieving your goals, but you just have to find the million-dollar answer to that one simple question:
“Where do I go from here?”
Figuring out the answer to that question can be challenging, but it’s a lot easier with the right approach and tools. In fact, you may just need a little help from an expert.
She taught, in her recent DigitalMarketer workshop, that the key to figuring out where you need to go with your business is creating a growth plan. Not one that focuses on a goal of just “growing your business,” but one that helps you focus on and improve very specific aspects of your business that ultimately result in growth.
Starting a business is hard; growing it is even harder. Figuring out how to achieve growth is perhaps the biggest challenge your business will face, and it can make or break your business.
But don’t panic, because it’s totally doable—especially with some of the advice from experts like Monique. We’ve broken down some of the tips from her workshop so you can create your own perfect growth plan, and be on your way to fulfilling your business’s full potential.
The Components of a Growth Plan
When you’re creating a growth plan, there are 2 components you need:
a way to measure growth
The first component, your goal, is what makes a plan your “perfect growth plan.” There is no definitive perfect growth plan, only one that is perfect for your business. And only you know how much you want your business to grow over a set period of time, as well as what’s actually attainable with the resources you have.
Growth isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Setting a goal to grow your revenue by 20% in 6 months and actually doing it is better than setting a goal to grow by 75% in 6 months and not even coming close. Aim high but be realistic and reasonable.
As for what actually goes into picking your growth goal, the best way to start is by understanding how your business is already performing. Once you have that understanding, you’ll be able to easily figure out what exactly it is you need to work to grow.
If you’re confused, don’t worry. We’ll talk about this way more later on in the post.
The second component, your way to measure growth, is just as critical as the first component, mainly because your growth plan really means nothing without it. If you don’t have a way to track if your growth plan is working, all you’re really doing is goal setting.
You can figure out all sorts of ways to measure the effectiveness of your perfect growth plan, but the most surefire way to truly recognize growth is through your business success metrics. Chances are, those were the things you’re focusing on improving in the first place. Whether it’s revenue, number of customers, or your unique visitors to your website, make sure you are measuring and keeping track of your success metrics so you can actually see your growth.
Once you put those 2 components together, you’re going to be able to create a growth plan that will actually be attainable.
Which leads us to the 4 steps to create that perfect growth plan for your business.
1. Select the Metrics You Want to Track
The first thing you need to do is select the metrics that you want to track progress in. Remember, these metrics should correlate directly to your business’s all-around growth. So, with that in mind, ask yourself this question: what metrics reflect growth for your business?
For an ecommerce business, it may be an increase in individual transactions. For service-based businesses, it may be doubling your lead-to-client conversion rate. Whatever you choose, they need to be measurable, and they need to correlate with real, tangible business growth.
Additionally, you should always keep an eye on your revenue. Increasing customers is great until you realize your ad spend is cutting your profits in half. If you use your revenue as your anchor.
Only you know the metrics that matter most for your business. Once you identify what they are, you should compile them in a spreadsheet. If you have them all in one place, it will make the rest of the process much easier.
2. Assess Your Current Status
Before you can plan for the future, you have to look at the present. Now that you know the metrics you want to improve, you need to look at the status of those metrics right now. This doesn’t mean to simply know what those numbers are. You also need to understand why they are what they are. If your current monthly revenue is $60,000, you should understand the things you are doing and decisions you are making to get there. You may be able to find that understanding in the form of anecdotal evidence, but it also may be in the form of your other metrics.
If your current monthly revenue is $60,000, how many transactions does it take to get to that number? How much are spending on advertising? What’s your net profit margin? These are all things that will help you gather a wholistic understanding of where your business is at.
This step may seem simple—it is. But it is also extremely important for the next 2 steps.
3. Set Your Growth Goal
Now that you know what your metrics currently look like, you can set a growth goal. To do that, you’ll need to figure out a couple of things.
How much you want to grow by
The specific metric(s) you want to focus on growing the most
With a better understanding of where your business is at, you should be able to figure both of these things out with relative ease. And just like that, you’ll perfect growth goal for your perfect growth plan.
Just remember to be realistic. Wal-Mart and Amazon weren’t built overnight—it took decades for them to get where they are now. Pick a goal that is achievable. Once you hit that milestone, you’ll be better prepared to keep growing in the future.
4. Accomplish Your Goals and Look to the Future
The last and longest step is to simply follow through. With a way to track growth and a goal in mind, you can start to try new strategies to get there.
We know. This is intimidating. Because there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to what will work. It’s different for every business, based on your industry, resources, Customer Avatar, and your Customer Value Journey.
That’s why knowing how your business is currently performing is so important when beginning this process. It shows you what you can do if you change absolutely nothing. Then, when you start to make changes, you can see how your numbers change. Not happy with the results? Return to square 1 and try something else.
Once you finally accomplish that growth, you can figure out new ways to improve your business. With your newfound profits, maybe a new warehouse, a new product launch, or a massive website overhaul will help your business continue to grow even more. Only you know what will significantly help your business, and now you have the tools to try those new things out.
Just take a look at your numbers, project what you can do, set a growth goal, and repeat the process over and over again.
And, once you have the process mastered, you can put the fear of stagnation behind you. If you ever find your business not performing as well as you want it to, take a step back and use this process to focus in on what you need to fix.
At the very least, we would recommend doing this process at the beginning of every year. It’s not only good to always have a good understanding of how your business is doing, but it’s also good to have a goal to work toward. Setting a yearly goal can help you stay focused, motivated, and productive.
Metrics are a tool for growth that go severely underutilized. If you can use your metrics as an interactive tool instead of just a cool number, you can set yourself apart and outgrow your competition.
Then you won’t have to worry about your business getting stagnant. You’ll only have to worry about figuring out what growth goal you’re going to achieve next.