Six Growth Strategies for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

May 14, 2023

If you're a business owner or are considering taking on a more entrepreneurial endeavor, you are in fantastic company: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that roughly 16.2 million Americans are self-employed—meaning they either run their own small business or are their own boss.

Trends such as seeking alternatives to returning to work in-person, growth of the gig economy, and even “quiet quitting" have more people gravitating toward hanging up the proverbial shingle and working for themselves.

But for business owners, there are a unique set of concerns—with odds of success not always in their favor. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), roughly two-thirds of small businesses with employees survive for two years. About half will reach their five-year anniversary, and after that milestone, survival rates flatten.

So, it's reasonable to be proactive about the next steps for your business. What follows are six strategies for growth to keep you on track for success.

Six Business Growth Strategies 

1. Check Your Growth Potential

If you're wondering if it's time to grow,  Erin Haag, founder of Pricing Overhaul, an advisory service for entrepreneurs, says sometimes it just comes down to literal space. If you're operating in a brick-and-mortar space and reach that 90% capacity, “it is time to grow into a bigger space," she says.

But physical space is only one measure. Your cash flow or sales could also be indicators. Another tip could be that you are using 90% capacity in your schedule. “You don't want to wait until you're at 100% capacity to start growing," says Haag. “You would start to see that once you've reached 75% capacity, that's when you really want to get the ball rolling."

Jay Jung, founder and managing partner at Embarc Advisors, a strategic finance advisory, says that solid footing is key when it's time to look at growth. “A stabilized business with a clear playbook is a good candidate for growth," he says. Jung adds that newer businesses “may consider investing in growth after proving there is a market for their offering."

2. Create a Road-Map

Believe it or not, approaching the growth process overall can be a bit like taking a road trip. In this scenario, your end goal is a bit like the final destination of a road trip. As with the road, so goes the venture. Your first step, according to Haag, is, “map out your entire journey and know where you're going," she says. These goals could be a certain number of clients or customers you'd like to reach or a financial target you want to hit.

You'll also want to consider the different steps or details along the way that will get you there. For instance, if you're a boutique looking to reach 10,000 customers per year, breaking that final goal down by quarter and month provides you with a tangible metric to look back to as time passes.

3. Plan for Funding

Money is undoubtedly one of the more pesky, practical factors to consider. As you plan your growth, Jung advises keeping a watchful eye on your cash flow. “Set a clear budget and use a weekly cash-flow model to ensure measured growth and avoid overextending," he says.

Growth is an exciting time for any business, but it's important to keep it real with yourself, too. At some point, it might be time to apply for funding through a grant or a loan from a financial institution. Many lenders offer low-cost or low-interest loans for small businesses that can help ease any potential financial tight spots that may come up. Some also offer classes and workshops to help facilitate better education and empowerment for business owners and entrepreneurs.

4. Take Advantage of Industry Trends

Although trends come and go, getting in at the right moment can prove powerful. If you are in an industry that is on the rise, a wise strategy could be to take steps that will grow your business faster than you originally thought you would. Rolling up your sleeves and doing some research into your industry and where things are headed not only informs you for the time being, it will help shape your strategy in terms of speed of growth.

If it turns out your industry is hot or getting there, “you might want to hop on at lightning speed and take advantage of that moment," says Haag. In the past, she has consulted with business owners who've spotted trends and have then been able to get in on them quickly. In that instance, “you don't want to sit and say, 'No, I'm going to do this slowly,' because that ship might have sailed for you," she says.

5. Stay Mindful of the “Boring" Stuff Like Your Infrastructure

You won't be able to fully enjoy the growth process without the right kinds of infrastructure in place. Think about the boutique example earlier and imagine what that 10,000-customer goal entails on the practical side. Is it more staff to work later hours? Or perhaps backup supplies to replace any broken or damaged items? As you plan the growth strategy, it's good to get into the weeds a little and anticipate what needs could arise.

One great way to do that, according to Jung, is to "invest in building a system before pursuing growth." As you grow, the infrastructure you've built should also anticipate growth, “to avoid exacerbating chaos and risking a collapse of the enterprise," says Jung. Infrastructure systems can also include a software program that handles expenses and invoices or logs time. This affordable service can save you the headache of backtracking or having to hunt something down when you really need it.

6. Don't Be Afraid to Combine Forces

There are a lot of myths worth debunking when it comes to running and growing a business. One that Jung suggests is considering if the time is right to consider if mergers and acquisitions (M&A) might be a proper fit for your business growth. The ability to take advantage of this step could be easier than you think. “It is a myth that M&A-driven growth is only for private equity," he says. “Any small business can pursue this path with the help of resources available online and in a remote work environment."

There is No "Right" Way to Grow

In both strong and weak economies, it is possible to grow. Once you've mapped out your plans and identified where your business fits in the larger scheme of the industry, it will be easier to consider what options exist and whether or not you want to take advantage of them—and when—along the journey.

If your definitions of success and growth don't match those of others, bear this in mind: “There is not one right way to grow," says Haag. “Businesses grow in many different ways at very different speeds on very different paths."

Are you ready to grow your business but not sure of the next steps? Contact a City National Bank of Florida financial specialist for more information. 

Please note: The content in this article comes from individual opinions and experiences. The content should not be taken as advice coming from City National Bank of Florida. City National Bank of Florida does not offer tax, legal or accounting advice.


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