Standing still is not an option. Any business that is not growing is going backwards.

Too many companies face the day-to-day pressures of surviving and end up just “playing along with the market” in auto-mode. They are hoping growth that is lost in the past will somehow re-appear on their top-line revenue, in the next quarter or next year.

Somehow “playing along” feels safer. What will this do-nothing scenario lead to in your business?

In this increasingly disrupted, complex and interconnected business world that we operate in, the companies that are succeeding are the ones with the courage to have a divergent strategy. These companies have a plan for growth. But how can you be confident the strategy that powers this growth plan will work?

The management guru, Peter Drucker advised that “the most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers”.  He stated that “the truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.”

6 critical topics to test your business growth curve

Growth strategies for a downturn by Prof. John Quelch (Harvard Business School)

Here are 6 critical topics to test your growth plan – using the correct questions.

Some of these questions may be obvious. Each topic is focussed on a critical area. All questions within each topic are related to helping you anticipate how your market will react to the execution of your growth plan. The issues are addressed through the lens of your only sources of certainty – your customers and the internal resources you can deploy to serve these customers.

1. Relevance: Am I confident that the strategic direction proposed to unlock growth is aligned with the company’s overall value proposition in the markets that we have chosen to serve? Is this plan sustainable over the chosen period of growth?

2. Get ahead, in your chosen market: I need to grow our business at a faster trajectory (to win market share and/or increase profits). Do I have a plan? Am I satisfied that both internal and external stakeholders clearly understand our growth plan? How will this plan help us get ahead, by creating real value for our customers?

3. Competitive advantage: Have I identified a competitive advantage that is truly unique? Have we defined what could erode this advantage?

4. Feasibility: Am I satisfied that all implications of the proposed direction have been considered thoroughly, implementation is possible, and all supporting business goals, objectives and strategies are realistic, practically achievable, affordable and comprehensive?

5. Accountability: Am I confident that management accountability is clearly defined, the growth plan execution is adequately resourced and key tactics are assigned to the correct people to implement?

6. Fine-tune, using feedback: As shortcomings in our growth plan become apparent, am I mindful that we need to learn from our execution and can apply these findings quickly, to help fine-tune our tactics?

The best thing you can do is the right thing. On the other end of the spectrum, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Remember that your growth plan never stops. Idleness is fatal.

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