ONE OF THE MOST PERSISTENT CHALLENGES executives in any industry face is how to continually grow their business. Why? Because many in the C-suite are searching for that “one thing”—a single decision, a single move—that will catapult their company to the next level and bring more value to their stakeholders and customers.
The fact is, when it comes to growth, it’s never just one thing. To grow your business successfully, you must approach it holistically by finding the right path, in the right market context, in the right combination and sequence; in other words, you must develop your “Growth IQ.” In doing so, you’ll create a multiplier effect that will help shape and sustain growth. Too good to be true? It isn’t.
Achieving business growth is far less complicated than many make it out to be. After studying and engaging with numerous companies and entrepreneurs across several industries, I identified 10 common growth paths. Whether a company picked one path or several, these 10 growth paths were consistent and are at the core of my new book, Growth IQ. Here they are in simple form:
- Customer experience: Inspire additional purchases and advocacy.
- Customer base penetration: Sell more existing products to existing customers.
- Market acceleration: Expand into new markets with existing products.
- Product expansion: Sell new products to existing markets.
- Customer and product diversification: Sell new products to new customers.
- Sales optimization: Streamline sales efforts to increase productivity.
- Churn reduction: Retain more customers.
- Partnerships: Leverage third-party alliances, channels, and ecosystems.
- Co-opetition: Cooperate with market competitors on product development, IP sharing, and more.
- Unconventional strategies: Disrupt current thinking by adopting a socially conscious business model, for example.
Do any of these look familiar? They should, as several stemmed from headline brands including Starbucks, Marvel, and Red Bull. Others are closer to home for the IT channel and include Gateway, Dell, Intel, VCE, and Salesforce. And here’s a quick growth discovery note worth sharing: Those who are thriving are using the data available to them in real time to gain meaningful insights and strengthen their Growth IQ.
Times have changed, but despite what you may read, many of the “old school” principles to business success remain in play and are being enhanced (not replaced) by technologies including AI, machine learning, and IoT. Yes, a modern twist is now required at times to be truly effective in today’s digital world, and in order to grow, companies must achieve a healthy human-digital balance. To that end, stay focused on the associate and customer experience, weaving in technology and signature touch points that will make your business easier to engage with and build a more memorable experience worth sharing with others.
Also, remember the multiplier effect, and when it comes to making decisions, always take the time to understand the current market context—the circumstances or events that form the environment within which your company operates, serves, and competes. Otherwise, even the right decision, or the right growth path, could put you in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The IT channel is a crowded and changing marketplace, requiring you to find new ways to differentiate and drive growth. What works well for one company may signal the end of days for another. By building your Growth IQ you can make the right series of choices at the right time to set your business on the right path to sustainable growth.
TIFFANI BOVA is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce and spent 10 years at Gartner as a distinguished analyst and research fellow. This column provides a synopsis of the business advice channel partners can glean from her first book, Growth IQ, which hit shelves last month and is available on Amazon.