Not all businesses want to grow. But for the roughly 20 per cent that do, many face the challenge of how to grow in a sustainable way. Sustainable growth will mean different things to different businesses depending on several factors such as their stage of growth – whether they be in the start up or through to the continuous growth phase.
While the circumstances can be different, there are a few strategies all businesses can employ to determine a sustainable path to growth.
For the past nine months, eight businesses have participated in the ANZ Business Growth program, building out a bespoke strategic plan for growth. In speaking to them, it is clear there are similar themes to these plans despite the wide variation of industries and size.
The importance of strong leadership was a key takeout for many participants including Terry McWhirter, CEO of Warrnambool-based construction supply company Danterr.
“We realised we had to establish an executive team to enable growth and for me to be able to delegate certain responsibilities, allowing me to focus on my company’s strategic direction rather than the day-to-day operations,” he said.
For McWhirter, this included the ability to concentrate on non-operational aspects of the business including people and culture.
“With the right executive team in place and alignment in what we want to achieve, we now have the confidence and bandwidth to have candid conversations with employees which helps ensure we’ve got the right people, in the right roles who are passionate about our business and feel a part of delivering our growth strategy,” he said.
This is especially important today when almost a third of employing Australian businesses are having difficulty finding suitable staff, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
But combining a people focus with a plan for growth led to a $10 million uplift in Danterr’s revenue.
Time to plan
Anyone who has ever spoken with a business owner knows they’re often time poor. But the importance of taking the time to have strategic, forward-thinking conversations shouldn’t be underestimated.
“The challenges for growth for our business were often in leadership alignment and not having a plan meant that the goal posts could move, or we might have different versions of what that growth looked like,” said Grant Inches, CEO of spice retailer Gewürzhaus.
“Working on a business pays far more dividends than being in the trenches every day. Putting a strategic plan in place, as we have discovered, can allow a business to grow further than originally thought.”
Putting together a 90-day plan has led to immediate results for family-owned transport business Link Cold Storage and Transportation. The company ended a long-standing business relationship and that presented continuous staff-retention and operational challenges – but the decision opened a new market opportunity in a region not previously serviced by the company.
“This led to an initial 25 per cent drop in income overnight which was regained over a 12-week period by building a new market opportunity in South Australia which we were able to do through existing customer relationships,” said Simon Frazer, Link Cold Storage and Transportation’s CEO.
We know lots of business owners find it hard to step away from the day-to-day to plan and be really strategic about their future. To support that development, ANZ offers a self-paced online business growth guide consisting of six online modules developed by the Australian Centre for Business Growth at the University of South Australia.
The online guide is applicable to all industry types, from manufacturers to software developers, and suitable for any leader interested in building a sustainable business growth model.
Helping these businesses attain greater insights on their strategy and growth will allow them to embrace the next chapter of their development.