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January 10, 2019

How to Ensure Sustainable Business Growth

Don’t Let Your Growth Get Away From You

The notion of growth is an appealing one for most businesses. After all, more growth typically means more revenue and greater profitability. But not all growth is created equal. If you want to improve growth in your organization, it needs to happen in a sustainable fashion.

What is Sustainable Growth?

Growth for the sake of growth can be reckless and dangerous. If you have a growth-at-all-costs mindset, then you probably aren’t thinking much about the future (or how your decisions impact those around you). All you care about is getting bigger. But what you don’t realize is that, in the words of the late Notorious B.I.G., mo’ money often means mo’ problems.

Sustainable growth, on the other hand, is smart growth. It’s growth that’s repeatable, forward-thinking, and well-paced. It places as much emphasis on the future as it does on the present.

Every person has a unique definition of sustainable growth, but entrepreneur Rick Miller has developed one of the best. In fact, he’s zeroed in on what he calls a “formula for repeatable growth” that integrates six different areas: customers, competitors, costs, capital, communities, and culture.

Miller asks himself, “What will my current customers’ needs be tomorrow, and where might a competitor today be an ally tomorrow to face a new competitor? How can I build strategies to reduce both expenses and improve margins as I ensure adequate capital and offer better-than-average returns for my investors? How can I build a reputation as a great corporate citizen and create a change-adaptive culture at the same time?”

As you can see, Miller is far less focused on developing fat bottom lines in the present. His major goal is on repeatable growth that sets the corporation up for long-term success and dependable profits. And as we discuss sustainable growth in this article, that’s the type of growth we’re referencing.

4 Ways to Achieve Sustainable Growth

Sustainable growth is a concept that your entire business must strategize around. From IT to marketing, it requires all hands on deck. And without going into incredible detail in every area, here are some top steps you can take:

1.     Establish a Powerful Brand

“If you want to create a scalable business, you have to understand how crucial it is to build brand equity and emotional connections with customers. It’s those attachments that link customers to your products and will keep them returning to you,” serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque writes. “Building a brand is about developing and sustaining those relationships over time.”

The brand is your backbone. Products, services, employees, and physical locations may change over time, but the brand serves as the core. Put your energy into establishing a powerful brand and you’ll create a dependable framework for future growth.

2.     Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

Something interesting has happened in the social media space over the past few years. As brands have placed an emphasis on growing their engagement on sites like Instagram, automated services and bots have emerged to help accounts grow (rather considerably), but often at the expense of fake or disengaged followers. So while some accounts may have tens of thousands of followers, a huge percentage of them are often “burner” accounts with no real value.

As you grow your brand, remember this illustration and place an emphasis on quality over quantity. As you attract customers or add products, always place the priority on quality over quantity. It’ll serve you well in the future.

3.     Think in 3-, 5-, and 10-Year Terms

Speaking of the future, sustainable growth looks past the short-term and emphasizes longevity. Whenever you look at a growth strategy or action step, begin thinking in terms of how it’ll impact the business three, five, and 10 years down the road.

As you stretch out your timeframe, it becomes less likely that you make growth-related decisions that are only focused on the here and now. You’ll begin to expand your horizons and move with the future in mind.

4.     Create Multiple Streams of Revenue

Every business has one product or service that seems to bring in the majority of the income. In fact, the Pareto Principle suggests that 80 percent of your revenue likely comes from 20 percent of your products/services. But this doesn’t mean you should only have a single product offering.

In terms of sustainability, it’s wise to have multiple streams of revenue. This allows you to move with the evolving needs and demands of the market. As one product becomes obsolete, you’ll be able to shift your focus and energy into the next.

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