Whether off the back of long-held ideas or a sudden spark of imagination, small, independent businesses are starting to pop up all over the place – with determined owners looking to make a successful go of things.

by Ashim Adhikari via Flickr

While most of those who decide to start a business will have an endless sense of ambition and excitement about the direction in which the company will eventually travel, some find themselves content with getting to a certain point and simply maintaining the firm’s size and stature.

However, growth plays a crucial part in a successful business venture. A trade which doesn’t need to develop alongside the needs of the consumer is extremely rare, and very few businesses still operate in exactly the same way as they did in their early stages.

How to cultivate business growth

The moving forward of a business doesn’t just happen without hard work and planning. That said, there’s no single answer when it comes to determining what constitutes growth. Different businesses will have different targets to meet and ambitions to work on to ensure success steadily increases and the business remains relevant.

One thing which should be a part of any business, however, is a plan. While this plan must be established in the venture’s early stages, it should be open to adaptation and development to ensure it remains relevant. Running a business, whatever it sells or provides, is all about meeting the needs of the consumer – as these needs change, so too will the targets laid out in your plan.

By keeping on top of the goings-on in your industry (and the industries closely related), you shouldn’t have too much trouble working out how to consistently provide consumers with what they want. This will also help to ensure the business has a chance of staying ahead of the competition.

Talking to customers directly, however, won’t hurt. Although customer feedback forms and market research questionnaires have long been part of business growth strategies, technology today makes it even easier to enjoy a direct relationship with both loyal and potential customers – Facebook and Twitter, for example, have broken down many walls between the modern business and its consumer.

Growth from the employees perspective

The development a company experiences will not only affect the major decision-makers at the top. The best employees will look to be constantly challenged in order to better themselves; in the context of a workplace, these needs are best met with steady growth. As needs change amongst the target audience, all of the company’s employees will have to adapt to suit – the ones who don’t take well to such change may be lacking ambition and this shouldn’t be taken too lightly.

Also, if the firm’s best employees aren’t challenged at all in their roles, they’re likely to become jaded. This could lead to a significant drop in performance and productivity levels or perhaps even pushing the worker to seek what they’re looking for elsewhere.

Growth: being financially sensible

Growing too fast can cause major financial problems and, in some cases, these can jeopardize the business altogether. In the early days, it is highly unlikely that a business owner will have a huge budget to work with. At this stage, it pays to be frugal; and there are plenty of ways to achieve this. Moving gradually up the ladder from a room at home to a serviced office and eventually a permanent space is one example.

It’s important to use this situation to get into the habit of restraint. While finding the ultimate dream premises may be the first thought, for example, its cost will impact other parts of the business if it doesn’t quite fit into your budget. Instead, put it on the plan’s target list and use it as inspiration to work hard.

Business growth shouldn’t be seen as just increasing profit. The environments in which modern businesses operate are evolving quicker than ever before – meaning growth has become more of a necessity than a choice.

Gemma Cole works for PS Finance an independent brokerage offering cash-flow solutions such as invoice discounting and invoice factoring.

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