The dream of every SME in Nigeria is to grow beyond a small business into a bigger business with chains of outlets serving both local and international customers. However, research has shown that only half of start-ups survive more than five years, and not more than one-third make it to ten years. With this in mind, the best thing to do as an SME is to ensure your business is sustainable and can stand the test of time; then to create a growth strategy for your business.

This strategy details your business goals and defines your plans for meeting those goals. It’s a road map showing the goals you are striving to meet, how you are planning to meet them, and when you are planning to execute. You need to adapt this strategy in order to smooth out your business inefficiencies, refine its strengths and better suit your customers.

As an SME looking to grow your business, the key steps below will help you develop a business strategy that can sustain your business for a very long time.

Define short- and long-term goals
The first step in writing a business strategy for business growth is to simply document the goals you hope to achieve in the next five years. Well-chosen goals point a business in the right direction; this can be both small and large and can be either specific (increase revenue by 20%) or general (increase brand awareness). Here are some examples:
Increase product offerings
Grow organic site traffic
Open a second store
Increase sales

Define timelines
Once you have defined your goals, then it is time to set timelines for achieving your growth strategy. Timelines can be set by goal priority or in sequence. For example, your top priority goal may be to open a second store. But meeting that goal requires that you first increase sales at your existing store by 15% to cover the operational, staffing, and inventory costs of your second store. Even if increasing sales at your existing store is a lower priority, it needs to be executed first in order to achieve your highest priority goal of opening a second store.

Establish a value proposition
For your business to sustain long-term growth, you must understand what distinguishes it from the competition. Identify that unique factor that attracts your customers to you for a product or service. What makes you relevant, differentiated and credible? Your answer will determine your value proposition; this is the value your business adds to the customers and therefore explains why they should do business with you.

Define your key indicators
A strategy must be measurable in order to know whether it’s effective or not. To achieve a growth strategy, you need to identify which key indicators affect the growth of your business, then dedicate time and money to those areas.

Verify your revenue streams
What are your current revenue streams? What revenue streams can you add to make your business more profitable? Once you identify the potentials for new revenue streams, ask yourself if they are sustainable in the long run. Some great ideas or cool products don’t necessarily have revenue streams attached. Be careful to isolate and understand the difference.

Check your competition
No matter the industry your business falls under, there is a possibility that your competitors could be excelling at something that your company is struggling with. Look toward similar businesses that are growing in new, unique ways to inform your growth strategy. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Ask yourself why your competitors have made alternate choices. Are they wrong? Or are your businesses positioned differently? The assumption that you are smarter is rarely correct.

Focus on your strengths
Sometimes, focusing on your strengths can help you establish growth strategies rather than trying to improve your weaknesses. Reorient the playing field to suit your strengths, and build upon them to grow your business. You can use the data from your key indicators and revenue streams to create a personalized growth plan. That way, you ll better understand your business and your customers nuances, which will naturally lead to growth.

When you tailor your growth strategy to your business, you ll keep your customers happy and fulfil their needs, which will keep them coming back. As your customer base grows and market demand increases, your business automatically grows to become bigger than how you started.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]