October 10, 2020 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s one thing to start and launch a business. But identifying and optimizing a company’s growth potential is an entirely different matter. And it’s one that many entrepreneurs struggle with as their business takes off and as the business environment and consumer preferences evolve.
As I have developed my own business and watched those of my colleagues, there are many ways to figure out the best opportunities to expand and build your company. Here are my seven top tips for identifying and capitalizing on your business growth potential:
1. Identify unmet customer needs
One of the best ways to uncover where your business has room to grow is to look at still unmet customer needs. I started my business that way, so it makes sense to continue employing that same strategy to find new growth opportunities. There are plenty of customer problems that have yet to be solved.
Start with your existing audience and ask them directly about their other problems or issues they would like to solve. Listening is a critical step in getting access to these insights. In the process, you can win points with your customers because they appreciate your interest and concern as individuals. I have used surveys, focus groups and one-on-one customer interviews to tap this primary research resource.
2. Re-imagine your product for new demographics
The first tip led me to the second one. Learning more about my audience’s struggle opened my eyes to a new demographic that could also benefit from my solution. Just because I have a product that is meant for kids doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way for me to help other age demographics with their technology-related issues, too.
Although it would mean a few changes to the product and features list, it is always worth seeing how your innovative solution to a problem can be molded and morphed to help other age groups. Companies like Stitch Fix and Allbirds went from strictly serving adults with their products to widening their reach to kids, as well. It can be done with some out-of-the-box thinking.
3. Consider strategic partnerships
Many entrepreneurs are attracted to the idea of a strategic partnership that can provide the resources, infrastructure and brand awareness to take their products or services to the next growth level. This strategy can be a lucrative way to accelerate your business growth, especially when many larger organizations have hit maturity levels and are looking for their pathways to growth.
No matter how thrilling a strategic partnership offer can seem, it’s good not just to accept the first offer that comes your way. Know your worth and be true to your own growth goals. Be ready to negotiate or keep looking for the best strategic partnership. Don’t rush this pursuit because it will take due diligence and research for it to work for both parties.
4. Pay attention to complaints and reviews
None of us want to admit that we are doing anything wrong in our businesses. But the reality is that we may not be satisfying all of our customers and losing out on significant growth potential by not paying attention.
That’s why reviews, customer call recordings and written complaints can drive growth potential. They provide specific areas of improvement. And when those customers see that we responded to their issues and made the necessary changes, there is a good chance that they will return. According to a Salesforce report, seventy-two percent of customers will even share the experience with their social circle, helping win more customers. As a result, a few tweaks generate ongoing growth potential.
5. Don’t focus on traditional growth channels
There are many handbooks on business growth that talk about product and service diversification and other traditional strategies. Sure, it’s scary to uncover a unique or unproven pathway to growth. But imagine what will happen. People laughed at Elon Musk when he announced the idea of commercial space travel and reusable rockets. No one is laughing now.
Even the pandemic has shown us new pathways to growth. Through the crisis came opportunities to design and launch new products, services, business efficiencies and revenue streams.
6. Make it a mental game, not a physical one
Every entrepreneur hustles and works hard. But working around-the-clock isn’t going to help you uncover growth potential or make it happen necessarily. I don’t know about you, but that type of nonstop schedule wears my body and brain out. It certainly doesn’t reveal new ways of looking at things, which tells me it’s not the most efficient way to achieve growth potential.
Instead, I take walks, play games with my kids, read books, listen to podcasts, and spend time outdoors. In those moments, my brain recharges and ignites a creative flame. I have been able to see how to make improvements to my business, engage with customers, and address what they’ve told my team. A rested entrepreneur sees the possibilities so much than one that burns themselves out.
7. Move from planning to action
Lists, research, and planning are important ways to look at your business for signs of growth potential. But at some point, that picture has been painted for you. Yet some entrepreneurs stop there, fixated on what it might look like but not taking it to the next level.
It might be because of fear and apprehension. Or it could be a lack of understanding about how to take the next step. Here you may need to reach out to a mentor or business advisor. They can kick you into the action stage.
Entrepreneurs start businesses because they have big ideas and are excited about implementing them. But don’t let the excitement fade after just one idea. Keep innovating and creating and see how your business grows.