How to Create a Sustainable Growth Plan for Your eCommerce BusinessMarch 4, 2020 - 12 minutes read
Your guide to scaling up the right way.
Every eCommerce business owner’s primary goal is to grow their business and become a commercial success.
If you see your sales rise, your profits soar, and your audience expand month after month, good for you – success is yours for the taking.
However, while scaling your business fast is positive in many ways, you could find yourself in hot water if your business grows too fast.
Why is this the case, you ask? Because without the right funding, planning, and potential resources, you could find that, as you scale, your eCommerce business starts to become unmanageable and, as a result, completely dysfunctional.
Without a strategic growth plan for your eCommerce business, you could face serious budgeting issues, fail to meet customer expectations (poor customer experiences are terrible for eCommerce businesses), and experience a raft of staff or partner retention issues, among other operational problems.
Only 50% of startups survive their first five years of operation. It might be hard to hear, but it’s true. However, with a sustainable business growth plan, you will prevail, gaining an edge on the competition while enjoying the success you deserve year after year.
Here’s how you can develop a sustainable growth plan for your eCommerce business.
Commit to the right business structure
As your business progresses, it’s important for your organizational structure to be able to accommodate as you grow. While your company may only consist of yourself and one or two others right now, when you scale, you may find yourself needing more staff, more resources, and more suppliers.
If you outgrow sole proprietorship and are scaling fast, you must consider choosing a new business structure. Otherwise, your eCommerce empire could start to spiral out of control.
By considering your daily and weekly workday processes across the board, you can develop an organizational framework that will help you meet ever-growing business demands.
For instance, if you’re the type of business that sells a range of consumer items, you could consider a dropshipping model to eliminate the need to house stock and physically fulfill your orders. Or, if you’re thinking about offering a subscription service or loyalty scheme, sourcing a third-party service to help you with maintenance and development could be the answer.
To gain a better understanding of your potential business needs, each time you start a task or activity, document what you’re doing as well as how long it takes. Within a week or so, two things should happen:
- You will understand the value of focusing on what you’re doing in real-time in terms of your business demands and processes.
- You will have a clear understanding of the various tasks and roles you undertake on a regular basis in terms of frequency and volume. As a result, you will be able to make positive strategic changes.
Armed with this information, think about your core business proposition, as well as your primary goals over the next two to three years. By doing so, you’ll be able to develop a company structure that is not only adaptable to change but also works for you as an eCommerce business owner.
Another key aspect of scaling is managing your profit margins. Check out these pricing strategies, and you will be able to ensure you remain economically efficient as well as profitable as you grow.
Drill deeper into your target audience
At every stage of your business journey, you need to take the time to get to know your consumers – creating a sustainable growth plan is no exception.
While understanding your audience is typically associated with eCommerce marketing, you need to get a firm grasp of your consumers’ behavioral patterns, as well as their wants, needs, and preferences to secure a steady growth trajectory for your business.
If you take the time to do this after you’ve decided on a business model or structure that you believe will scale with your success, you will be able to anticipate what to do strategically to keep meeting their needs, thereby securing a sustainable level of success. If you tackle this phase with care and due diligence, you will empower yourself to make informed, strategic decisions rather than shooting in the dark and hoping for the best.
Understanding your audience takes insight, research, and data. Here are two definitive guides to help you get under the skin of your customer base:
- A step-by-step guide to creating effective buyer personas for your business.
- How to use consumer data to improve your business’s eCommerce strategy
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler
Secure strategic growth funding
If you’re ambitious and want to boost your business prospects over time, you will undoubtedly want to expand. And if you want to evolve, securing the right level of funding is something you must consider. Fortunately, in the digital age, there are several ways you can raise funds for your business.
Working capital is a pivotal marker of ongoing business health as it gives a clear indication of whether you have a steady enough cash flow for all future expenses and expenditure. To ensure a solid growth trajectory, you must set projected budgets according to your existing rate of growth, as well as your primary business goals.
With these budgets and projects firmly in place, you will be able to start raising some funds to assist you with your growth strategy. Here are some funding avenues you can explore:
- Crowdfunding through platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and CircleUp.
- Small business funding through relevant angel investors.
- Equity fundraising through an engaged group of minor shareholders who can advocate for your brand and its products.
Take your time to explore each of these options in detail. Once you’re ready, get out there and start fundraising.
Avoid eCommerce business silos
As your eCommerce empire evolves, you must avoid forming internal silos at all costs. If your internal departments start siloing and end up fragmenting, communication will fall apart, and inefficiencies will develop.
Silos stop collaboration in its tracks, killing any real progress in the process.
Here are some tips you can use to ensure your internal culture is built on communication and collaboration:
- Share your core business values with everyone in your team, placing communication and collaboration at the heart of your company culture.
- Run cross-departmental work sessions to foster open communication while using internal project management tools to keep the conversation open at all times.
- Offer opportunities for your staff to achieve new qualifications, develop fresh skills, and share their knowledge or experiences with one another. This will ensure your business remains cohesive and adaptable as you grow.
Create a potential buyout process
At this point in the game, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be thinking about selling your eCommerce business. However, if you do scale your business the right way and exceed your commercial goals, you could find yourself in a situation where investors are knocking on your virtual door.
It’s always good to have a water-tight buyout process in place in case this scenario arises – after all, you deserve to get an excellent return for your hard-won success.
To develop a business buyout plan that is not only functional but will also ensure that you get what you deserve, you will need to:
- Know your business’s worth and valuation.
- Settle on legally-binding buyout terms, rules, and regulations.
- Focus on negotiating the deal in its entirety rather than the price alone.
- Work through everything with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there are no discrepancies or potentially detrimental loopholes.
Invest time in this venture early on, put it away for a sunny day, and you will be able to rest easy knowing that you have all of your business bases covered.
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill, author
Choose the right technology for your business
Last but not least, if you want to succeed, scale, and evolve on a sustainable basis, you must work with the right tools and technology.
Behind any sustainable growth strategy lies the right technology. From automation to data analytics, online store management, fulfillment, and beyond, choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business will not only help you streamline your processes but also allow you to make more informed decisions while reaching a wider target audience.
As eCommerce experts, we have a host of products and solutions designed to boost commercial success at every stage of the journey. Niche or sector aside, our cutting-edge eCommerce tools will help to accelerate your growth and scale with your business as it progresses.
If you’d like to find out more about us, what we do, and our products, please get in touch, and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions. We look forward to hearing from you.