In this blog, you will learn 3 tips to grow business using design thinking and how to 10X your business. You will also know about the 2 types of business growth strategies, find out 3 key skills of a growth-oriented CEO, discover 4 stages of business growth and understand 6 benefits of design thinking.

Business growth is almost always the most important goal of all businesses, yet it is often the least understood aspect for business leaders like CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, CHROs, Chief Strategy Officers and L&D Heads. Growth is the reason behind many decisions that affect the daily workings of an organization. Business growth is also one of the most important metrics to measure success of a business.

Are there certain proven ways to ensure increase in growth? What really are the tips to grow business? Do we indeed have tips to grow business? What is the relation between design thinking and business growth? How to 10x your business using design thinking? Let us explore the answers to these questions in this article.

What is 10X business growth?

The dictionary defines growth as “the process of increasing in size”. Therefore, business growth would mean, “increase in economic activity or value” of a business.

Although business growth is a highly subjective concept, we call it business growth when an organization, starting with bare minimum resources, reaches a stage of expansion and seeks additional options to generate more profit. Business growth occurs when business leaders, employees and outside factors influence the success of an organization, so that it expands the customer base, increases revenue and/or produces more products or services.

We call it 10X business growth, 10X growth, or simply, 10X, when business leaders or entrepreneurs strategize every action taken in the organization for a limited period of a few years with an aim to grow and scale their business to be ten times bigger than it is. 10X growth is a plan that relies on massive amounts of productivity in a remarkably short burst or time frame.

Is the 10X growth strategy the best option? Opinions differ among the experts. Some say that continuous business growth is far better than 10X growth. But both strategies have their pros and cons. I would advise you to first get a thorough knowledge about both, and then decide which one is the best for your business. Probably, you may like to go with a mix of both the strategies, starting with 10X for the first 3–5 years of your business to reach an optimum level of revenue generation, and switching to continuous growth later. 

Here, I would request you to not directly jump to the section on the 3 tips to grow business, without reading the following 6 sections.

 

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What are the 2 types of business growth strategies?

Experts usually categorize business growth strategies into 2 types: internal (organic) and external (partnership, acquisition or merger).

  • Internal (Organic)

Internal or organic business growth strategy is the most commonly practised form of business growth that entails visible and tangible elements like introduction of new products or services, launch of new storefronts, operation in new geographies or adoption of new technologies.

Organic growth, although slower, is a critical success factor for organizations. It helps an organization to gain the skills and experience it needs to grow its business from within. Organic growth involves less risk, ease of finance through internal funds, strength building in the form of brand and customer base and a sensible rate of growth.

  • External (Partnership, Acquisition or Merger)

External growth strategy involves partnership, acquisition or merger. Although considered the riskiest, this type of growth often has the highest potential for reward. This business growth strategy facilitates an easier entry into a new market and expansion of existing customer bases. It increases the likelihood of business success through collaborative efforts of external factors like partners, investors and acquirers.

Who is responsible for business growth?

The decisions made by the organization’s leadership are one of the most significant instruments affecting business growth. Of course, there are other factors like business lifecycle, industry growth trends, consumer trends and market opportunities that also play important roles in the growth of a business.

But the business leader’s desire, for example, for equity value creation is more important than all of the others put together. A CEO’s role in business growth cannot be ignored. This is the very reason why I named this article CEO’s tips to grow business.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  

Steve Jobs, Former CEO, Apple

What are the 3 key skills of a growth-oriented CEO?

The decisions made by the top business leader or the CEO are crucial to an organization’s growth.  Knowing how to prioritize, how to measure and how to communicate are the three key skills for a CEO who wants to grow their business 10X.

  • How to prioritize

While running a business, there is a strong possibility that a CEO might be overwhelmed with an excess rather than a lack of opportunities. It is always said that less is more. As a CEO, you need to focus on the very few priorities and do them well. Apple has a very limited number of products, yet it is regarded as one of the most valuable companies in the world.

  • How to measure

How to measure is an important prerequisite because business is all about numbers. Your abilities to measure growth, interpret analytics, track sales and numerically compare between the past and the present scenarios are the keys to your organization’s growth plan.

  • How to communicate

Learning how to communicate with your team as well as your external stakeholders is an important prerequisite for a CEO. Your ability to successfully delegate tasks to your team is directly proportional to your organizational growth.

 

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What are the 4 stages of business growth?

Different experts have classified business growth into various stages. I would discuss the school of thought that categorizes business growth into 4 stages—starting up, growing up, scaling up and dominating your industry. Kindly read them in the context of the 3 key skills of a CEO described above.

  • Starting up

Starting up is the stage where you grow your start-up to validate your business model. With hardly 1 to 5 employees, you grow by developing your prototype products and services, doing testing, launching them in the market and learning from your experience through customer feedback. This stage often requires redoing your strategies to improve and grow further. This is where an organization based on design thinking leads the way. We will read about design thinking in the next section. 

  • Growing up

With probably 6 to 15 employees, the focus of the growing-up stage is fully on sales. Having identified your fixed expenses, you need to get the cash flow to finance further growth. Strategic hiring and prioritizing your team and cash flow are decisive elements at this stage. Training employees on what you have been doing all alone and delegating your work to the right employees are crucial. At this stage, your job is to build a great team.

  • Scaling up

With an employee strength of 16 to 250, the scaling-up stage focusses on dominating your industry by getting the organization, its systems and processes to move faster. As the CEO, your priority needs to be to simplify your systems and procedures for your employees to be aligned with them.

  • Dominating your industry

With over 250 employees working for you, your focus should be not only on how to dominate your industry but also to retain your market dominance. The greatest barrier in this stage is your chances of getting used to your comfort zone of market leadership and your chances of not innovating further. In order to retain your dominance, you as the business leader need to reinvent yourself continuously.

Whether you choose continuous growth or 10X growth, an organization headed by a design-thinking CEO is bound to grow. Let us discuss design thinking here.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is based on human-centred design and innovation that emphasizes empathy so that its problem solving is based on the needs of the customer or end user. It is a creative problem-solving toolkit that prioritizes customers’ needs and aspirations above everything else.

Please read what is the importance of design thinking? to learn about design thinking in detail. In fact, a CEO, who is also a design thinker, can ensure their organization’s customer lifetime value increases as well. You may also read how to increase customer lifetime value? to understand CLV in detail.

I would request you to actually spend some time to read the above resources and educate yourself on design thinking in order to get the best from the section on tips to grow business, given at the end of this article.

How to 10x your business with design thinking? 6 benefits of design thinking

The secret to 10X your business with design thinking lies in knowing the 6 benefits of design thinking to develop a product or service that puts your business firmly into the market and thereby helps you grow business. Such a customer-centric product or service plays a vital role in increasing your business revenue and resources. Let me explain them here:

  • Faster launch of market-ready products and services

Design thinking entails developing prototypes to perform testing and to implement customer feedback iteratively for quality assurance. The use of iterative problem-solving techniques involving the feedback of customers during testing phases helps to come up with a market-ready, customer-accepted product or service much faster.

  • Overall reduced expenses and high return on investment (ROI)

Coming up faster with market-ready and customer-accepted products and services means decrease in overall business expenses. This will ensure a high ROI for your organization.

  • Assured customer loyalty and word-of-mouth publicity

The human-centric approach in design thinking ensures a lasting customer relationship through effective communication and trust. This also ensures organic growth and word-of-mouth publicity. 

  • Effective fulfilment of customers’ requirements

The use of iterative problem-solving techniques involving the feedback of customers during testing phases of design thinking eventually succeeds in meeting the customers’ requirements from all fronts.

  • Innovation-induced growth

Innovation is a key element of the design-thinking process. A culture of innovation is the key to business growth.

  • Better employee management and assured teamwork

Design thinking leads to collective ideas and cross-team collaboration, as it encourages all employees to participate in the product-making process.

The last section on the tips to grow business has finally arrived, and you can read them below.

3 tips to grow business for a design-thinking CEO

A design-thinking CEO naturally develops the potential to 10X their business. This is because design thinking focusses on humans. Here are the 3 suggestions that are the most important tips to grow business:

  • Focus on you

As the business leader, you are the reason behind the existence of your business. But you cannot run your business alone. You need to manage a team of people. However, you will not be able to manage anyone if you cannot manage yourself. Hence, the first tip to business growth is to develop self-awareness. Be aware of your emotions, personality, your likes and dislikes, what motivates you, what comes easily and what poses challenges. You need to start building your legacy as the leader of the organization. Two of the ways to do so are to have control over your personal finance and to set routines for yourself, just as you would do for your team and organization.

The five phases of design thinking—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—if applied onto yourself can certainly help you to focus on you.

  • Focus on the team

“All business operations can be reduced to three words: people, products and profit”.

Lee Iacocca, Former CEO, Chrysler Corporation

As the CEO of your organization, you need to build and lead a team that has a great memorable culture. Boosting your team’s capabilities and helping the team members grow themselves are the stepping stones to your organizational growth. You need to align your efforts with the capabilities of your team members.

Nothing infuses team-based collaboration as much as design thinking does by focussing on brainstorming, interactions, thinking out of the box and letting everyone contribute for a common cause. It enforces team-based collaboration that puts the user at the centre.

  • Focus on the organization

Focus on the organization means focus on your products and services and your customers, apart from your team. Focus of the organization entails creating a simple and powerful strategy, capitalizing your predictable sales system, encouraging innovation and changes and increasing your organizational value.

Customer centricity in product designing is the core of design thinking. Therefore, a design-thinking leader can easily focus on the organization. Design thinking is a creative problem-solving toolkit that prioritizes customers’ needs and aspirations above everything else.

The above tips to grow business, according to me, is the CEO’s toolkit to 10x your business. What do you think about this? This was of course not a comprehensive list of tips. If you have come across new insights on how to 10x your business, do share your tips with our readers in the form of a comment in the “Add comment” section towards the bottom of this blog.

About the author, Ajay Aggarwal

A Haryanvi by origin, an entrepreneur at heart and a consultant by choice, that’s how Ajay likes to introduce himself! Ajay is the Founding Partner at Humane Design and Innovation Consulting (HDI). Before starting HDI, Ajay founded the Design Thinking and Innovation practice at KPMG India. His 16+ years of professional career spans across various roles in product and service design, conducting strategy workshops, storytelling and enabling an innovation culture. He has coached 50+ organizations and 2000+ professionals in institutionalizing design and innovation practices. He loves to blog and speak on topics related to Design Thinking, Innovation, Creativity, Storytelling, Customer Experience and Entrepreneurship. Ajay is passionate about learning, writing poems and visualizing future trends!

We at Humane Design strongly believe in the human ethos and draw inspiration from humans and other elements of nature to design innovative solutions for organizations of all sizes. We will be glad to be your success partner. Email us your requirements at explore@humaned.in.

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