Growth does not always mean getting bigger but it does mean getting better. People grow; they grow spiritually; they grow with knowledge; they grow emotionally. So too businesses can grow in different ways.
Imagine that you start a manufacturing business. You pay money for capital, the capital being things like the machinery, the land, and other things that increase the output of labour. Maybe you spend some money on educating employees so they properly know how to use the machinery.
Years go by, and you are pretty successful. Your business self-sustains, buying input goods, paying wages, paying the electricity bill. However, the machines start producing less and less each year due to wear and tear. After 10 years they are in such a bad shape that they produce nothing at all. The roof of the building has collapsed and the staff has gradually been replaced with new people who didn’t attend the introductory training. In order to just keep the same output as from the start, you need to replace or replenish your capital.
But how will you be able to afford it? The business only made enough to cover it costs and didn’t cover the initial investment. All your money went into the first launch of the factory.
So growth does not imply that a firm must increase its physical number of stores. In business, being dynamic/adaptable is the key. No market or technology is going to stay the same forever. Growth can come from expanding the business, but growth is also innovation.
The economy is growing. The population is growing, and its disposable income is growing. That means there’s money on the table to be had - but only if your business is capable of serving more customers or you are keeping up with their expectations.
So, there is no reason a corner store needs to expand and open new branches. They just need to be able to identify what their customers need and provide it. You stay aware of what your customers want and the competitive landscape. You change over time in accordance with the direction you want your business to go.
So grow your business by selling new products, by keeping your customers while finding new ones. You do have to identify changes to the market, changes to your competition, and changes to the environment. Use technology to cut costs through efficiency. Get your staff to work smarter. Get out there and talk to your customers and your potential customers. Understand their needs and preferences, bring that thinking back into your team and innovate to respond to these changes.
But (there is always a but), growth without proper financial and logistical planning have been the down fall of many businesses. So grow, but do it smartly. Make sure you have the know-how, the capital and the staff that can take the business forward and to success.
George Bernard Shaw said -”The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.