top of page

The 4 Most Common Growth Challenges ... and how to Avoid Them

Every successful business strives to flourish in the long term, beyond mere survival. This means generating long-term, sustainable growth.

WHY THINK LONG TERM?

Companies that focus on the long term outperform the competition in terms of revenue, earnings and economic profit, with less volatility. Sustainable growth is essential for corporate success, providing value for shareholders, customers and employees. However, global corporate performance is more volatile than ever, with one in three publicly listed companies expected to cease to exist within five years. This means it is is essential to build a resilient business, and create a invulnerable foundation - this is what we are all about.


Although the growth plateaus listed below are the most common risk periods for UK businesses, we understand that each market, company and category is unique and will face challenges at different stages.

SATURATION: Successful products and services reach peak popularity sooner than expected.

DISPLACEMENT: Innovative new competitors threaten established businesses' market dominance.

MISFIRE: New acquisitions or innovations fail to meet growth expectations.

COMPLEXITY: Outdated processes, systems, and capabilities are not being modernised quickly enough to support growth.

All executives have experienced one or more of these challenges. However, high-performing executive teams can increase their chances of success by identifying risk factors early and adapting their strategy accordingly. The ability to diagnose risk factors sooner and change behaviours faster will help any business overcome growth plateaus.

Let's break this down and see how to mitigate them


Saturation

As businesses dominate their core markets, growth opportunities slow and headroom for growth becomes limited. This saturation can creep up quickly, leaving businesses little time to adapt. Early warning signs include high market share, slowing category growth, declining margins and increased reliance on cost reduction to drive profit growth.

Our Approach:

1. Future foresight: Focus more on understanding future trends and forecasts for both your core business and new categories.

2. Identify future growth engines: Define potential sources of future growth and how they relate to your core business.

3. Resource allocation: As cost pressures increase, be prepared to defend your investments in future growth engines.

4. Strategic communication: Start communicating early and provide clear and compelling narratives about the future, while carefully managing stakeholders' short-term expectations.

DISPLACEMENT

We've all seen examples of new players, technologies or trends disrupting markets. This threat is even more real now with the rise of tech-enabled businesses. Your advantage can slowly erode or your entire business model could be turned upside down in months. The early warning signs can be hard to spot. Our Approach: 1. Competitor insights: Focus more on competitive intelligence and benchmarking, including both traditional competitors and disruptors. 2. Scenario planning: Use future scenarios to assess, mitigate and raise management awareness of emerging threats to the core business. 3. Value proposition: Review your value proposition to ensure that your differentiation from the competition is both clear and compelling. 4. Loyalty and retention: Prioritise loyalty and retention initiatives to retain existing customers as you evolve and adapt.


MISFIRE

Investing in new growth engines alongside your core business is essential for sustainable long-term growth. However, this is always risky. Therefore, it is important to build a small portfolio of future growth bets, as not all will succeed. The challenge is how to respond when these investments fail. Organisational confidence often erodes, and businesses retreat into their shell, refocusing on the core business. Our Approach: 1. Learn from failure: Adopt a critical and honest approach to understanding why the misfire happened and the root causes of poor performance. 2. Make decisive choices: Act quickly and decisively to reset the course of the business. 3. Adjust expectations: Redefine the management approach for bolt-on business areas, reflecting different expectations for return on investment. 4. Refresh and review: Regularly review your short- and mid-term strategy to ensure that your strategic choices remain relevant during periods of change.


COMPLEXITY

Businesses can often become victims of their own success. Rapid revenue growth can lead to inflated operating expenses and processes that struggle to keep up, essentially rendering the current business model obsolete. This can be a difficult situation, as the solutions often involve investing in new systems, technology and capacity, which can be difficult to implement quickly. Our Approach: 1. Organisational structure and processes: Assess the effectiveness and robustness of the organisational design, including priority business processes. 2. Prioritise activities: Review and prioritise all current project activity with the PMO/Change team, including RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) for key processes. 3. Benchmark costs: Benchmark OPEX (operating expense) ratios across all functions. 4. Control spending: Tighten controls on new hires, non-core spending and new project initiation.

Our 4 Pillars of Sustainable Growth

Purpose

Clarity on the company’s reason for existence – the role the business plays for consumers, society and shareholders. Purpose is the key driver of change in a fast-evolving environment. It provides a shared understanding, common reference point and ultimate objective to guide Future Focus, Adaptability, and Customer Centricity.


Future Focus

The ability to look forward and drive change. Investing and developing new growth engines alongside the core business. Visionary companies invest disproportionately in future growth because they have a robust core business and are not beholden to short-term pressures.

Adaptability

The ability to react faster and more accurately than competitors to changes in the marketplace as they occur. Companies must become more adaptable in everything they do to respond quickly and effectively to unforeseen change. Adaptability is the cornerstone of sustainable growth.

Customer Centricity

The ability to identify current and future customer needs and leverage this insight to drive business performance. Customer-centric companies that anticipate customers' unmet needs outperform product-centric companies over the long term.

Future Focus, Adaptability, Customer-Centricity and Purpose are the essential cornerstones of sustainable business success. In a world that is constantly evolving, these are the areas where business leaders must focus their attention and investment.


How WG MEDIA can help

WG MEDIA is a strategic digital marketing agency that helps businesses develop and implement strategies that are future-focused, adaptable, customer-centric, and purpose-driven, in order to achieve sustainable growth. If you want a free 1:1 initial consultation, get in touch today.


Comments


bottom of page