In order to determine growth goals for your business, you'll need to assess the external condition of the market (such as the performance of the U.S. economy and the tax climate) as well as your own internal business goals (such as expanding geographically, consolidating prior gains or adding new offerings).
When determining your goals, it's also important for you to focus on your team's capabilities and strengths. While you can certainly pivot to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the market, you need to keep your current skill set in mind. And, in finalizing your goals, you will also need to consider how your marketing plan and budget will support and drive your projected growth.
Here are five questions you should ask yourself to determine your company's growth goals and develop an appropriate marketing budget:
1. What is my mission?
This is the biggest question of all, because it's about what drives your business and, therefore, your marketing messages. Are you primarily driven by a mission to change the current state of your industry? If so, you should be clear about how your business growth goals align with this mission and be sure to incorporate your mission and values into all of your messaging.
If business growth (rather than a specific mission) is your prime motivation, then you need to pursue opportunities wherever they lead, looking to stay one step ahead of the competition. Instead of using an overarching mission to determine your goals and strategy, you may need to take advantage of market opportunities as they arise. As long as you stay on top of industry trends and deliver superior offerings in a timely manner that are aligned with those trends, this approach can also drive growth.
2. What sets my business apart from the competition?
Do you stand out because of your quality, service, location or something else? As a general best practice, you should try to grow and market yourself in the areas where you have a competitive advantage. The more customers understand about what makes your business different from the rest, the more likely you'll be to grow. Your marketing materials need to clearly and consistently communicate these unique traits to your audience.
3. Do I serve a niche customer? If so, do I want to broaden my customer base?
You can run into trouble if you try to be all things to all people. Businesses that have a deep connection with a niche customer base can thrive, but that same niche approach can limit revenues. If you wish to broaden your horizons within a niche market, you should first consider selling complementary products and services within your niche. After all, when you seek to attract new customers outside of your niche, you risk alienating your existing customer base and diluting what makes you unique.
4. What are the current market opportunities, and do I have sufficient financial resources to take advantage of them?
According to a survey by Staples, small business owners are optimistic about the state of the economy in 2017. For instance, 97 percent of respondents claimed that they planned to increase investment in their companies this year, while 72 percent claimed that they planned to increase their staff compensation.
When you identify an opportunity, you must have the cash available to invest in it or seek financing through bank credit or private investors. Investing heavily in marketing, for example, may require a high initial investment while the return on that investment may lag behind. Hiring is no different as it takes time for new hires to learn their roles and responsibilities within your organization. When determining growth goals and your budget, you must keep these factors in mind.
5. Do I want to keep the same ownership structure?
Your growth and marketing goals may also be limited by the availability of resources and your desired business structure. For example, a small or family-owned business may lack the access to capital needed for massive investments in rapid growth. Bringing in outside, private investors or partners may accelerate growth, but it may also change the ownership structure of your business. In these scenarios, you have to think long and hard about the relationship between growth (which may require outside investors) and tight control, which may mean you decide to forgo the extra capital and keep your existing ownership structure.
Thoughtfully answering these questions should help you determine growth goals while also sparking ideas and strategies for how to achieve your targets and take your business to the next level.
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