If you asked a cross-section of business leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs what their biggest challenge is, I'm confident you'd hear the same recurring thought: growing their business in a sustainable, predictable, yet profitable way, quickly.

It's a reality that most businesses never reach their full potential, always yearning for the thing that will catapult them into significance, but never really finding it.

The simple reason is often a mismatch between the vision that guides the leaders, and the ability to turn that vision into anything practical.

Here are my 10 practical business growth strategies you can implement today.

#1 Attract more customers

This is where most businesses tend to spend their time - in attracting new customers through the front door of their businesses. The first and number 1 Low Cost/No Cost strategy for increasing the number of customers is referrals. Have you asked your existing customers for a referral?

86% of my business comes from referrals - was it always the case - of course not but we've been focused on building a referral only business. Could you do the same? What percentage of your business comes through referrals today? What could it be in the future with an increased focus in this area?

#2 Sell more to existing customers

There is a danger for every business owner, business leader, and entrepreneur of obsessing about finding new customers, all the while failing to focus on the customers they've already invested the time, effort, and money to acquire.

Focus on increasing the value from existing customers by increasing the number of products and services your customers buy from you and your business.

In my experience, (I've worked with tens of thousands of businesses across 27 countries) most customers do not buy ALL the products and services they could from you, simply because they do not know everything that you sell.

Do you have a process in place to educate and up sell customers on your full range of products and services?

#3 Retain the customers you have

Customer retention, or more importantly lack of it, is costing businesses millions in lost turnover and profits each year. You're going to lose some customers - FACT!

But, what if, through increased focus, you could reduce the attrition rate of your customer base by a small percentage point? For example, customers who rate the service from a supplier as "satisfactory" have a retention rate of 65%. However - those customers who rate the service they receive as "Very Satisfactory" have a loyalty rate of 95%.

Where do your customers rate their satisfaction level on in your business? What strategies are you going to implement to move the needle on your satisfaction meter to ‘Very Satisfied'.

#4 Shift your productivity dial

Put simply, how can you increase the output. Activities can include upskilling team members, reviewing roles against requirements, identifying technology advancements you can leverage.

I appreciate some of these suggestions could trigger a cost, but the fundamental question is are you and your people busy or productive? Take a fresh look at your ways of working to identify opportunities to increase your productivity.

#5 Drive top line revenue growth

Revenue is often referred to as the top line in a Profit and Loss statement (P&L). However, it can be something of a vanity number and many businesses can place too much emphasis on it. It's pointless having high revenue if at the end of the year it equates to zero profit. This is not a formula for success.

However, profit point aside, revenue growth is critical. Get your fixed costs and overheads covered with a carefully managed and controlled cost of sale, then scale and growth in your top line will massively fast track your growth and success.

#6 Focus on net profitability 

Net profit takes into account not just the direct costs of sale and production but all the fixed and variable costs of running the business. Net profitability is important, since increases in revenue do not necessarily translate into actual increased profitability.

Managing the double lines (driving top line revenue growth and, in parallel, focusing on the overhead and cost base), will allow you to deliver profitable business growth.

#7 Manage the cash

Managing your cash flow is critical and can be what stifles your growth potential if you get it wrong.

Your cash management strategy is fundamentally about one measure: your debtor to creditor ratio. Nearly every business is both a creditor and a debtor and proactively managing the ratio between these two levers is key to being able to fund your growth ambitions; what payment terms are you offering, what payment terms are you receiving, try and negotiate more favorable ones if these are not working for you.  Complete credit checks on new and existing customers to avoid any bad debtors.

#8 Hire, develop and retain the best people 

Recruit the best to compensate for your weaknesses. Yes, if you love the client facing stuff and that's what gets you out of bed every day don't hire a Sales Manager hire a Head of Operations. Vice versa if the operational side of the business floats your boat then find the best Sales Manager or Director to bring the business in.

It's not about trying to be everything to everyone. It's knowing what you do well and just as importantly what you don't.

#9 Buy other businesses

Buying other businesses can be another way of driving growth, but with that comes additional cost and usually a significant amount of change to manage. Make sure you have cash reserves in place if this is an avenue you want to pursue.

#10 Think Big!

If you don't start out by dreaming BIG, you're never going to move beyond mediocrity.  Set your bar high. Think BIG thoughts, and dream BIG dreams.

Live your life as if all your dreams have already come true and challenge reality to catch up.

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