• Every growing business can benefit from mapping out their growth approach.
• All SMEs go through certain phases of growth that can be tied to a framework.
• Maximising efficiency means allowing people to be accountable for successes.
• Employing a growth framework could free up your time as founder.
• These frameworks range from the surprisingly simple to the reassuringly complex.
The importance of growth frameworks
Given the near-endless diversity of small businesses in terms of size, industry, management structure and potential for growth, there’s no one-size-fits-all framework for expansion that is fit for purpose.
Instead, founders looking to scale up are faced with myriad models, from basic matrices to complex, multi-step programmes that require intense soul-searching into your company’s purpose and potential.
But don’t panic. Despite the diversity of both growth frameworks and SMEs, business analysts have found there are certain key milestones in the development of scale-ups that make them susceptible to common obstacles – and suitable to be pinned to certain business frameworks.
For most companies, those phases can be approximated to growth through creativity, growth through direction, growth through delegation, growth through co-ordination and growth through collaboration.
The key to successful scaling
It’s that difficult second step between creativity and direction – from start-up to scale-up – that can be made easier with a predefined structure in place. For founders who are creative innovators and not naturals at the business of running a business, it can help to streamline operations, and outline management strategies. And for those that are natural businesspeople, it can maximise the returns on their talents.
A framework does this in part by allowing business owners to anticipate key requirements, such as a move to bigger premises, increased headcount or IT upgrades. It can also serve as a springboard for that key business activity so many founders find challenging – delegation. Allowing individuals and teams to take responsibility for outcomes is a central feature of many growth models.
Some business growth frameworks are more widespread or popular than others. It is worth looking at several and then asking why, how and if they would work in your business. Some are more complex than others, but all are based on establishing achievable goals and working towards them in a structured way, while minimising unnecessary time and effort.
Some of the most popular frameworks include:
1. Entrepreneurial operating system (EOS)
2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
3. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
4. Rockefeller Habits
5. SMART - Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely - goals
6. McKinsey Three Horizons Framework
7. Management by Objectives (MBOs)
8. BCG Growth Share Matrix
There are many different types of frameworks available, and how they could work for your business will depend on its culture, structure and sector, as well as its age, maturity and complexity. There are multiple other options not covered here, some of which might be more suited to your business.
The key is to find one that works for your business, that fits with your structure and the people you employ, and that you find yourself warming to rather than fighting against. Resenting the demands of a business framework designed to make your life easier is a rapid route to failure.
It may be that adapting and modifying an existing structure to suit is the best route for your company. Look at the available options, ask if they fit with what’s feasible for your businesses, and tailor any areas with baggy contours, or where you’re having to nip and tuck your operations to fit the model.
Alternatively, the best solution might be a fully managed hand-holding service where a certified growth coach leads you to the next stage of development. If you’re the creative genius rather than the management guru behind your company, this could be the right choice for you.
However you decide to go about it, remember that organic growth will only take your organisation so far – and it’s better to have the most basic system in place to guide your expansion than to have no system at all.