- 3 Things Entrepreneurs Should Do to Boost Their Growth Trajectory - September 2, 2020
In my work with companies in all stages of growth, I encounter one common challenge among many founders: when you’re leading a business in a fast-paced or fast-changing industry, it can sometimes be hard to get out of your own way when it comes to growth.
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Below are three basic moves that entrepreneurs should adopt to pave the way for growth:
Identify defensible space
You have probably heard the term “white space” when it comes to driving a business initiative. Is there opportunity available in a particular business vertical, or is it already saturated? Where is the “white space” that you can fill with your product, service or expertise?
Once you identify these areas, you must also determine how defensible that space is for you. When I work with early stage firms, I’m often advising on fundraising, in which potential investors focus on one key question to identify if there is a real, scalable business opportunity: “What is your competitive moat?”
The term “competitive moat” refers to a company’s ability to maintain competitive advantage in order to protect its long-term profits and market share from competing firms. Competitive advantage can be relatively easy to define if you’re an early stage technology-driven firm, as it’s generally core to platform development. If you’re strictly reliant on services-based offerings, it can be a bit harder to determine your competitive moat.
My best advice is for you is to uncover the service, solution, position or approach you can effectively “own” and put a stake in the ground. This does not include things like “we do high quality work” or “our team is exceptional.” Anyone can “own” these claims. Dig deeper!
This can be an uncomfortable exercise for many service-based companies, as it involves having some frank internal conversations about what truly makes you special and different. Make a big, bold claim and defend it.
Focus on strategic planning
All entrepreneurs (and people in general) have experienced falling short of a goal. When you don’t have an actual business plan in place for what you want to accomplish, it’s easy to fall into familiar patterns that keep you in stasis.
It’s no different in business. Many of the firms I work with have leaders who are good at everything: they understand the business that they have built from the ground up. What they don’t have, however, is a strategy for letting go of the day-to-day work (which they may have had to manage themselves in the early stages) and focus on growth. Setting a clear plan for putting trust in others and focusing on building the business is the first big step.
Most importantly, don’t create a strategic plan and then leave it in the rearview mirror. Make a formal schedule for reviewing progress against your plan on at least a quarterly basis to ensure strategic objectives are being met.
It’s also worth remembering that a strategic plan should be iterative, and you will make modifications along the way as you assess what’s working, what’s underperforming and needs attention, and what needs a total reboot.
Build a diverse team
Lastly, a strong network of experts to lean on can mean the difference between success and failure; and it can certainly mean the difference between an accelerated or stagnant growth trajectory.
A good place to start, which goes beyond your founders or executive team, is to construct an advisory board to bring in skills or connections you may not have internally. I saw this executed well firsthand within a business that I am an advisor to called Measure Protocol.
The company built a cross-functional team of advisors to address and advise within the following three areas:
- Technology expertise
- Industry expertise
- Business expertise
To build your own team, take a look at the leaders in your own industry and beyond who can help fulfill your company’s vision. Bring in non-biased experts from the worlds of academia, business and complementary industries to add knowledge, credibility and avenues for growth.
Make sure that you have a compelling story to tell, a solid business plan and the right message to catch their attention and provide reasons for them to invest their brain power and time in your venture.
If you are interested in moving your business to the next level, consider putting some of these basic steps to work. Driving growth can mean taking some risks, but when the risks you take as a company are backed by a solid plan, a deep understanding of your marketplace and a diverse team of experts, you have built the foundation for success.