Every founder, CEO or executive wants their business to grow – growth is not only a marker of success but it can make your business more stable and successful. The more customers, clients, products and locations you have, the less dependent you are on any one individual pillar of support for your revenue.
There are risks attached to growth, as there are everything in business. The wrong kind of growth, poorly executed or at the wrong time can damage your business, and telling the difference between good and bad opportunities for growth is one of the most important skills of the business owner. The CEO who is looking for long term success needs to be like a gardener, growing their business carefully according to a plan rather than running the risk that it will collapse under its own weight.
One of the most tempting opportunities for growth is to spread your business abroad – it promises a quick return, as you’ve already proved your concept is popular and successful at home. It’s also the opportunity that carries some of the most risk and needs to be planned the most carefully.
Compiling a thorough selection of international research helps you inform your plans with facts – facts about the market you’re selling into, the legislation governing your industry and the rules on importing into this new market. That means you can factor in the demand for your products, how best to adapt your existing marketing materials, and the cost of complying with any regulations governing your products and taxation. If adding all this data to your plans makes it look like the expense will outweigh the gains you stand to make, you may need to make changes to ensure your growth is successful.
One of the major casualties of unplanned growth can be your brand. Your brand is more than simply your branding – posters, logos and typefaces. It’s how your customers understand your business; the personality they build for it in their heads out of every interaction and experience they have with it that tells them it’s the right place for them to spend your money.
If you don’t plan your growth carefully, it can undermine the brand you’ve so carefully built.
If you add products to your line without careful consideration, for example, your brand can become incoherent, and hard for customers to read. It’s easy to have a consistent brand when you have a small number of well chosen products, but if you add more and more, simply because you have the opportunity to, and not because they’re a natural growth of your identity it can leave your brand contradictory, illegible and attractive to no one!