Orangeville, ON (James Doan) Have you ever considered what distinguishes small businesses that achieve sustained growth from those that do not?

First realize there are no strategies that will lead to guaranteed growth. There are seven specific areas in which growth companies concentrate their efforts.

1. Strong sense of purpose. Most businesses that have achieved growth discover that it takes more than the promise of increasing financial reward to fuel their aspirations and ambitions. They find a higher calling than the pursuit of “more money.”

2. Outstanding market intelligence. This is an organization’s ability to recognize fundamental changes in the marketplace. Then they must adapt. Many times, small-business owners become too myopic. They only see a limited view of the markets in which they compete. Growth leaders see the bigger picture.

3. Effective growth planning. This is the best predictor of whether a business will grow. To be effective, a plan for growth does not need to be formal or complicated. Set out a written, well-communicated and regularly updated plan.

4. Customer-driven processes. These days, many companies believe they are customer-driven. Actually very few are. Take a look at all the business processes from a customer’s perspective. Are they in place to make it easier for the company? Do they help to deliver on the promise of faster, cheaper and better for the customer?

5. The power of technology. Don’t let the boom and bust of technology cycles give the excuse to ignore that we live in an information age. If a company is in business, it is in the technology business.

6. The best and brightest people. Growth leaders recognize that they are only as good as the people with whom they work. Develop the ability to hire, train and keep the best and the brightest people. This is often the difference between success and failure.

7. Seeing the future. Few organizations take the time to consider the future. Growth leaders learn to track and interpret the macro forces of change affecting the world in which they live.