Why do some businesses grow at a rapid rate while others remain stuck? What makes one company successful while another flounders?
Is it down to investment? Luck? Great leadership? Or something else?
The truth is, there’s rarely one single thing that makes a business successful. Instead, it’s a combination of factors which all need to work together. But there is one thing that underpins everything in a successful modern business. Something that is often overlooked by many – and that’s a robust IT strategy.
IT might not be at the top of everyone’s list when thinking about how to achieve business growth but as we’ll see in this article, it should be!
So, what are the essential ingredients for business growth? There are lots of different theories out there but to keep things simple, we’ve identified the four pillars of business growth.
- Organisational management
- Business processes
- Your product/service
- Strategic growth planning
And the foundation that underpins these four pillars is IT.
Let’s take a look at each of these:
1. Organisational structure
Organisational structure determines the shape and style of your business. It then affects everything throughout your business from training and company policies to job roles and your company culture.
It outlines how tasks are allocated, how staff are supervised and how success is measured. With a well-defined organisational structure, everyone knows what they are responsible for and who to turn to for guidance and support. In turn, this creates a strong culture with motivated and productive staff.
A strong organisational structure makes it easier to measure success as the company grows – and makes sure you have people in the right roles as the company adapts over time.
How IT can help:
A good IT support partner will be able to put IT systems in place that support your organisational structure. From communication channels to task allocation, the right IT processes will promote and strengthen your structure and culture.
There is now more flexibility than ever when creating an organisational structure. You don’t have to stick to the traditional business models of the past but can instead look at new structures to create substantial cost savings.
For example, you could employ entire teams who are based from home, recruit freelancers for short-term projects or allow job sharing. With the right IT systems in place, it’s easy to offer flexibility around hours and work location too – all while maintaining productivity and security.
2. Business processes
Developing the right business processes is essential to build an efficient and smooth-running business. With clear processes in place, you’ll reduce inefficiencies, help eliminate errors and ensure that day-to-day tasks are completed correctly.
Think about all the jobs, tasks and actions your teams complete regularly. Then ensure there is a clear process in place for each of them. As your company grows, with well-defined processes, it becomes easier to train new staff or give existing employees new responsibilities.
How IT can help:
By using IT systems effectively, you can easily create business processes for every department throughout your business from sales and marketing to finance and HR, plus product delivery and customer service.
IT can help streamline those regular tasks that are completed daily. Even saving just a few minutes per task can have a huge impact on productivity over the course of a year.
Your IT support partner should take a proactive approach to improve your business processes. By understanding your day-to-day business, they’ll be able to spot ways in which IT can support and improve all your processes.
As technology continues to develop at a rapid rate, it’s likely that there are innovations and best practice strategies that can improve the processes that you have had in place for years. That’s why it’s important to hold regular update meetings with your IT partner to ensure you are using the very latest technologies in your business.
3. Your product/service
Whether you’re selling products or providing a service, it’s essential to continuously improve your offering. In a competitive marketplace, there will always be another company offering something slightly different to tempt your customers away. Regularly assess your product or service offering and ask the following questions:
- Is the product or service you created when you launched your business still what customers need today?
- How might you change or adapt your product offering in the future – what will customers demand next?
- Are there new routes to market to explore?
- How can you market your product or service more effectively?
- Can you serve customers more quickly or provide a better level of service than your competitors?
By keeping one step ahead of trends and predicting the needs of your customers, you can ensure customers continue to choose your company while also generating new leads.
By providing a better, more efficient, or more innovative product or service than your competitors, you can gain and retain customers without having to cut prices.
How IT can help:
IT can be used for every step of planning and delivering your product or service.
From market research to online ordering or customer support, IT allows you to connect and interact with customers, old and new, in a host of innovative ways.
It could be an improved system for logging and processing customer requests or new ways to market to customers using email or social media. Or you could use IT to identify stages within the product journey where time or cost savings can be made.
Talk to your IT support partner about how technology can help you deliver your product or service more efficiently to reduce costs while boosting customer satisfaction.
4. Strategic growth planning
For a handful of businesses, growth just happens. They offer a product or service at just the right time to a captive audience and sales snowball. Of course, these cases are rare. For most companies, growth has to be carefully planned and nurtured.
But for many businesses, growth planning gets pushed to one side when the realities of running a business take over.
In the early days of running a business, you’re probably focused on establishing your company, not on growth. Then, if you hit on difficult times, you’re focused on staying afloat. All this means it’s easy to find yourself a few years down the line, running a business, without any real strategy for growth.
But no matter what stage your business is at, it’s essential to think about growth. Continuous growth and improvement will help you weather the difficult times and spot opportunities.
Here are some things to think about when planning a growth strategy:
- What sets you apart from the competition?
- Are there new revenue streams available for you to exploit?
- How will you measure success?
- What are your competitors planning?
- Will you need to recruit new team members or help existing employees develop new skills?
- Are there opportunities to disrupt existing markets?
- Is your business designed to scale easily?
How IT can help:
Growing bigger doesn’t always have to mean moving to bigger premises or employing more staff. There are lots of ways you can use IT to scale and grow your business quickly and cost-effectively.
By moving your business hosting and IT systems to the Cloud, for example, you can scale your business easily as you need.
Putting the right IT systems in place today will help your business grow in the future. When planning for growth, it’s a good idea to include your IT team or IT support partner in the discussions so that they can provide suggestions to help plan for a profitable and productive future.
Why IT is a vital ingredient for business growth
We’ve already seen how IT can help grow your business by improving organisational management, business processes, your offering and strategic planning.
But IT isn’t just something that supports the other aspects of your business. To truly be successful, IT is something that you should focus on as a strategy for growth in its own right.
If you’ve grown over time, it’s likely that you have a range of different IT systems that work (or don’t work) together to varying degrees of success.
Your IT strategy is essential for business growth – helping you streamline, become more productive, create better teams, improve communication and find new ways to bring your product or service to market.
So, don’t overlook IT or push it to the bottom of the list. Instead, start with IT. Put a strong IT strategy at the heart of your business; use it to shape every other aspect of your business and it will give you a good foundation for growth.
Finding the right IT support partner
As you can see, finding the right IT support partner is crucial to your business growth plans.
Whether you choose to hire an in-house IT expert, outsource your IT needs, or use a combination of internal and external IT support; it’s important to involve your IT partner in your planning discussions.
Gone are the days when IT support meant fixing computers or troubleshooting technical problems. Today, your IT team should also be focused on strategy and planning for the future, playing a crucial role in securing the growth of your business.
- Discover more information about our IT support services.
- If you’re thinking about switching from your current IT support provider get in touch here or give us a call on 020 7101 0544.
- Want to learn more about what the right IT support looks like? Check out this article on how to choose the best IT Support provider for your business.