Let’s not sugar coat it: business growth and development is difficult for almost every single business in the world.
Even businesses the size of Apple and Adidas have had points at which they’ve stagnated, struggled and had to overcome some seriously threatening issues.
Business growth, in many senses, is a lot like running a marathon: there come certain points where those energy gels start to wear off, the course’s famous tough stretch is on the horizon and the whole thing feels a bit up hill.
In the same sense, the tactics that have worked so well in the past and got your business going and to where it is today will, at some point, start to lose their effect and it's up to you as the business owner to find new ways of getting closer to those 5 minute miles again.
Believe me, this is a lot harder than it sounds. Just ask companies like Blockbuster, the once huge video and DVD rental company who relied on the old ways too much, failing to adapt to online streaming and closing its doors as a result.
Every business wants to be successful but during the process of trying to grow your business, there tends to be an awful lot of ups and downs, sacrifices and stumbling blocks.
So what are the most common things holding SMEs back and slowing the pace of your business’ growth?
Let's take a look at the 3 most influential factors for business growth and development.
1. No Alignment between your departments
For you to achieve serious business growth, you need to find a way to align your departments, particularly sales and marketing.
For many, the alignment between sales and marketing is often overlooked but in the case of growing your business, it’s essential.
As cheesy as it sounds, teamwork really does make the dream work; both departments should have joint targets and goals in place in order for them to be as effective as possible.
It’s not just the salesperson’s job to actually conduct a sale; marketers, in the way they communicate your business’ values, have a huge impact on the sale long before the lead even comes into your sales team’s inbox.
Leads are what makes the business world go round, so the more quality leads you have coming into your business, the better the results will be in terms of profitability and growth rate.
This is why it’s so important for your departments to be working with each other, rather than pulling in different directions.
How can marketing truly sell your business if they don’t work closely with the sales team, who have so much valuable insight into your customer and prospect’s way of thinking?
And on the flipside of the coin, how can sales improve their close rates if they don’t have the necessary content and resources to influence prospects and keep them moving down the line to a buying decision?
Sales and marketing are just as important as each other, so it’s vital for business development that you align these departments’ goals and functions in order for your business to get a new wind of growth.
2. Poor Use of Tools
As you know, technology is moving at an alarming rate and is often difficult to keep up with for the average person, let alone the average business owner.
With the introduction of Google Analytics and Marketing Automation, businesses are having to adopt these methods into their everyday work in order not to fall behind.
Tools nowadays take the stress away from having to complete mundane tasks, You have the ability to schedule posts, log your working hours, segment information and data, manage your meetings, calls and much more using smart tools that do most of the work for you.
There’s always a better way to solve almost any task and it’s up to you as a business leader to find that better way. It’s time to move forward, leave your ancient tools in the past where they belong and adopt new tools which will allow your business to flourish in this day and age.
If you’re closed minded to the idea that there’s a better solution to use, you will be left behind. The question is, are you happy to let competitors past you to the finish line?
3. Poor Online Presence
Nowadays your online presence can seriously impact the way your business grows.
On this point, we’re talking about much more than just the way your website looks; it’s about how much traffic the site draws in from search engines, whether or not your prospects can find what they’re looking for when they do arrive and - perhaps most importantly - whether or not your site is designed to capture leads.
The benefits of a heavier focus and investment in your business’ online presence will impact your business' growth and development:
A serious increase in awareness
Although word of mouth and referrals are still key aspects of business growth, an over-reliance on this kind of lead generation will result in you missing out on the thousands of people searching for your products and services each month.
By creating a stronger online presence which focuses on quality content on your site, more people will be able to find you organically while searching in their own time.
When these kind of leads come in, they are incredibly warm, as the opportunity has presented itself to you, rather than the other way around, as is true of outbound sales.
More cost efficient marketing
Organic leads that come to your site of their own accord are not only some of the warmest and highest in quality, they are also the cheapest to acquire.
Of course, it will cost some initial investment to get your site any sort of traction with search engines, but once you have a steady flow of quality traffic, the leads will come thick and fast.
This is extremely important for business growth; websites aren’t just for capturing leads but also for influencing the decision making process of prospects you’ve already spoken to.
If your site contains proof points, case studies, reviews and even makes use of widgets from the likes of Trustpilot, prospects will have far more belief that your offering is all it’s cracked up to be.
This also helps with developing a trust factor very early on in the relationship; without credibility, no matter how much someone likes you, the odds of them working with you are slim to none.
After 26 and a half miles of blood, sweat and tears, you now know some of factors for your business to use when trying to grow.
It’s very important to understand that business growth and development doesn’t just happen overnight.
Take our Marathon Analogy: 26 miles is bloody far! No matter how big or small your business’ goals, getting there is unlikely to be a sprint. How well you start out is important, but it's more important to constantly implement new ways of pushing forward.
Whether your business growth is on course to hit a PB, has just hit mile 9 or has even hit the wall altogether, a new boost is always wanted. Our free Strategy for Growth guide is a great way to assess the best route to get your business moving forward at a faster pace.
For more on our strategic consultancy service, click here.