Saying that all a business needs to do is sell products to make money is technically accurate, but it's also reductionist. There's so much that goes into figuring out what exactly you're going to sell, to who, and how, that oversimplification can cause you problems down the line. You need a real strategy, something more than simply selling more and putting the money back into the company. You need a growth strategy.
1. Figure Out Your Target Audience
One of the most critical mistakes many businesses make is targeting the wrong audience. The moment they get that wrong is the moment the company fails. Everything, from the branding to the marketing campaign, is set to attract the wrong people. This results in weak conversions and wasted time.
Construct a clear idea of the kind of person who would need product. Figure out what their traits are. Study them and discover their habits. Research their average income and how much they're willing to pay.
2. Study the Competition
Unless you've discovered something completely new, you have competition. They may not be direct competition, but somewhere out there is a company fighting for the same headspace. It's likely that they know something you don't, so study them. They made it where so many other startups failed, so they're doing something right. You could even ask them for advice. The worst thing they can say is "no".
3. Determine Your Unique Selling Point
It doesn't matter what you're offering - chances are someone is offering a comparable product. Sustainable growth is based on standing out against the sea of similar and competing products. To do that, you must develop a unique selling point.
A unique selling point or value proposition is the reason customers should choose you over the competition. Is your product more affordable for the same quality? Does it offer more for the same price? Give them something that makes your product a more appealing purchase.
4. List Down and Develop Your Strengths
Every company, no matter how small, has strengths. You may not think so, but that may only be true when compared to other companies. Don't compare yourself to them, not yet. What can you do well that will benefit the company? List those down. Once you have a clear idea of your strengths, focus on developing them as much as possible. Craft your strategies around them to maximize their potential and your growth plan's effectiveness.
5. Define Key Metrics
Growth is measurable. It's your job to figure out what growth means for you. There are some statistics that are shared across companies, like revenue, but focus on what that means for your business. It's important to sort out your key metrics, as they'll inform you if your current strategy is working and where you can improve it.
6. Hire the Right People
Your business needs the best people it can to even have a chance of thriving. Your growth plans don't matter if they can't be executed well, and the only way you can do that is to hire the right people. You're not just looking for hyper-talented workers, though that's helpful. You want the right people for the right jobs. A team of great salesmen won't help if you need an accountant.
7. Confirm Sources of Revenue
Your business can't grow without money, so determining your sources of revenue is of utmost importance. Not only should you identify how you can currently money, but you should also determine if there are other parts of the company you can monetize. Think new products or services that synergize with what you're already selling.
There's no single growth strategy that will work for every business, but these steps should point you in the right direction. Growth isn't something that just happens. You must have a plan if you want to grow consistently and sustainably.