Posted by: DrAlanRae | March 20, 2009

Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your business grow?


We’ve recently completed a survey on how companies promote themselves and what networking tools they favour.

One of the questions we asked was about their attitude to growth.

Here is the response. (from 660 respondents)


I want to keep the business at its current size 4.5%
I want to grow organically 24.1%
I want to push the pace of growth 40.5%
I have a time tabled growth path with milestones 15.6%

I have a detailed growth plan that takes into account changes in company structure and behaviour

Other 6.4%


So if were being cruel we might say that just under 25% plan and the rest hope or aren’t interested.

One of the key things that came out of the survey was that a pivotal factor affecting choice of business strategy was whether the business was scalable.  If we create a traditional 2 x 2 matrix based on these 2 dimensions we arrive at something like this.


If we look at routes to growth, the blue lines show a viable route while the red ones don’t. Put simply, if you don’t want to grow its ok to hope, to operate informally and rely on your local contacts. You won’t grow but you can run a decent business within certain limits.

However if you want to grow, you have to plan before you can scale. If you scale before you plan – maybe because you collide with a large piece of business – you won’t be able to hang onto it and move into the top right quadrant unless you change your ways very quickly. What usually happens is that when the project comes to an end you slide back into the bottom left quadrant because you haven’t built the infrastructure needed to bootstrap yourself into the right side of the diagram. I know – I’ve been there.

So the moral of the story is – recognise that if you want your business to grow you’d better plan a route which allows scalability based on proper business processes and that take into account the changes in structure and behaviour needed to get through the initial stages.

By the way – if you’re interested in taking part in a research project on barriers to business growth please go to this link and fill out the questionnaire. If you get to the end, you can have a choice of a marketing planner, an e-book or a summary of the results. Take the survey here.

More anon


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