You’ve worked hard to get your business off the ground, and it now feels like it is in a secure and stable place. But what of the business’s foundations? Are they strong enough to grow the business and do you understand HOW to do that? Do you recognise what is or is not working for you?

There are now many questions to ask and answer. Just a few are – how many products/services do you offer? What is the gross profit for each one? What is your current marketing spend, and where is it targeted? What resources do you currently have and is there any capacity within it (not just people and their abilities, but machines and equipment as well)?

A regular subjective evaluation of the position of your business gives you clarity on its capacity to grow. Your familiarity with the business increases with regular assessment and review, taking a step back and analysing individual sections can often help achieve growth, identifying quick wins and plans for longer progression.

It is a good idea to start by reviewing your vision for the business. Where do you want to be and what does that look like in comparison to where you are now? When you have completed this analysis, you will understand the gaps you have in your journey.

As with any start-up, looking at your most recent market research is a good place to go next. Is it up-to-date with where your business is now? Are you in a slightly different place, a different sector, or do you have a different customer base? Your market research may need revising if there have been changes.

Another area that shouldn’t be overlooked is your competitor analysis. There may be new competitors competing for the same customer base that you are. Don’t forget, this isn’t just those businesses that do what you do but also your indirect competitors (those that supply similar services to you) and your substitute competitors (those that don’t do what you do but your customers will be spending their money with them instead of you).

Also, complete a SWOT analysis. This is something that you may have done when you started your business, but your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will have changed over time so reassessing where you are now may give you a good indication of what direction you can grow. Looking at your weaknesses and how you can turn them into strengths and similarly, where there are threats and how you can turn them into opportunities might highlight areas of growth you had not considered.

A further foundation stone to quickly review is your branding. What does your brand say about your business and is it still what you want it to say? Many companies go through a refresh when they’re starting to head in a slightly different direction. If that sounds familiar to you then this might be a time to bring in some expertise.

Your marketing strategy should be something you are reviewing and measuring far more regularly anyway so if this is something you are on top of that is a great place to be. However, if you have not checked what is working and what is not, this could be a significant stumbling block for growth. Make sure you have a solid understanding of how you are attracting new customers, which avenues generate the most business and is your marketing spend targeted in the right areas?

Another area that should be under frequent review is your customer journey. What is your customer experience from the minute they look at your product or service to the point where they make a purchase? What are all the touchpoints? Are they effective? Can this be improved? Think about new technologies and how they could make this easier for you and/or your customers. The better the experience the more likely they are to re-engage and, in turn, the quicker you will grow.

We’re about two-thirds of the way through assessing the business and we finally come to the one area most business owners head to first – Resources. It is easy to think that to grow, more people or more machines are required, but without understanding the direction of growth and what you have in place, this may not be what you need. Are the resources you have now the right ones and do they have any capacity? Does your team have the right balance of skills? Do any of them want to retrain in a different area or grow to support the business in a management capacity? Do you hold appraisals with your staff? Do you understand their needs and vision for life? How can you support them to help them support you?

This includes yourself. The business owner is nearly always completely overlooked. What are you doing to make sure that you grow with the business? A business that grows with a business owner that doesn’t, usually ends up in conflict and turmoil down the line.

Finally, and almost categorically the most important part of ensuring a secure base for growth is understanding your numbers. None of your plans can come to fruition if this is not in a solid place. Are you doing a regular cash flow forecast and are you monitoring what that looks like? Do you know your key numbers? Have you worked out what you want from the business in terms of your income and therefore what that looks like in terms of sales and number of customers? Many businesses just trundle along not understanding the bottom line or what is required to achieve the dream income. Spending a bit of time on your numbers, and engaging a good accountant and bookkeeper is crucial for solid business growth?

There is one more area that requires at least some acknowledgement, and it is not one any of us want to think about, but we should. What is the contingency plan? What if my growth plan doesn’t go according to plan? There’s one sure thing about any plan – they rarely, fully go to plan! External forces always come into play so make sure that the journey that you’re planning for growth is a flexible and adaptable one that can ebb and flow with the changes of life (we don’t need reminding of the impact of COVID on most of us).

I hope this gives you a good basis to help grow your business. It’s not rocket science; we often know what needs to be done but with the daily pressure to – do the do – it can often be put on the back burner. Schedule some time in your diary, lock the door or go to a place you cannot be disturbed and work your way through. It will not only secure the basis for growth but give you the confidence to make progress how you want to.