How to Tap Into Unconventional Growth Levers

Steph SmithLast updated on February 19, 2024
4 min

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In the dynamic landscape of 2024, the heartbeat of successful small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is not solely defined by rapid growth metrics. In fact, the ever-evolving market conditions mean that it's more important than ever to focus on the sustainability of your business activities. 

Our latest report, The Voice of SMBs 2024, reveals a compelling shift in the priorities of customer-facing teams. Beyond sheer expansion, SMBs are now emphasizing stability, enriched customer experiences, and enhanced agility. 

So how can your sales and customer support teams influence sustainable business growth in the year ahead?

Prioritizing Success Beyond Traditional Growth

Business growth is no longer about shiny stats and, arguably, vanity metrics. The focus is now on realistic indicators of healthy progression. 

In 2024, 61% of SMBs are directing their efforts toward improving customer experiences. This is closely followed by 60% focusing on getting the fundamentals right; a critical step that is often overlooked in a rush to move along the traditional path to “success”. Stability (56%) and agility (42%) are also emerging as critical elements in the SMB growth narrative.

Overall, a significant 64% of SMBs express positivity about growth in the coming year. And this savvy mindset reveals a recognition that the long-term strength of your business isn’t about numbers alone—it starts with a robust foundation. A foundation that is built on admirable customer relationships fostered by frontline teams, a culture that promotes employee retention, and an ability to be nimble. 

Navigating a Volatile Landscape with Agility 

The businesses that have managed to sustain or improve their operations over the last few years have shown great agility. McKinsey shares that organizations that can swiftly adapt report 2.1 times higher operational resilience, 2.5 times higher financial performance, and a remarkable 3 times higher growth.

In 2024, agility will remain a crucial growth factor. By embracing agility, you’ll be able to swiftly respond to changes, weather uncertainties, and capitalize on emerging opportunities. But it's not only about speed; rather the nimbleness to adapt your strategies, innovate your customer experiences, and pivot when necessary. By fostering this culture of agility, your business can not only thrive in the present but also lay the groundwork for sustained success.

Nurturing Customers as Growth Catalysts 

Customers are the lifeblood of SMBs and the driving force behind growth. And SMBs are recognizing that sustained growth is intricately tied to customer satisfaction. So much so that 54% of businesses state that increasing connections with customers will be one of the biggest growth drivers in 2024.

In a refreshed approach to growth, 45% of SMBs are putting improving customer satisfaction at the forefront of their strategies. And with Forbes reporting that 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience see an increase in revenue, it’s promising to see this wider appreciation of the symbiotic relationship between customer satisfaction and growth. 

In practice, this customer-centric approach involves not just meeting but exceeding expectations, turning clients into advocates. From personalized interactions to embracing omnichannel communication, SMBs are strategically nurturing relationships. And this focus on customer satisfaction becomes a growth engine, where every satisfied client becomes a seed for future business expansion. 

"We aim to exceed the client experience that larger companies offer. We see this as a key opportunity for growth, through offering a highly tailored experience to each client."

— Paul Tavener, Founder, Marvellous Escapes 

Growth Strategies Across Organizational Hierarchies

The Voice of SMBs report also uncovered a disconnect across organizational hierarchies. When compared to individual contributors, C-level executives exhibit a heightened focus on increased revenue (47% vs. 33%) and upskilling (51% vs. 24%), suggesting a potential visibility gap with their frontline teams. If growth is a priority for you in 2024, bridging this divide through education and alignment can make a big difference.

While executives might naturally gravitate toward revenue-centric goals, the emphasis on upskilling should cascade down to individual contributors. How? With proactive strategies that are not just top-down but inclusive; ensuring every team member understands their objectives and how they contribute to wider company goals. 

3 Tips to Drive Growth Beyond the Numbers

It can be easy to get carried away with wow-factor metrics. Here are three quick tips to make sure you keep the metrics that matter front of mind when working toward sustainable growth.

1. Start with Your People

Only 21% of employees are engaged at work. Effective, long-term growth emanates from engaged employees. Measure employee satisfaction through surveys, focusing on real outcomes like improved motivation and positive impact.

2. Set Clear Targets

To build sustainable growth, you must balance direct growth Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as headcount, with indirect ones, like customer satisfaction. Understanding and improving your influential growth indicators is the secret to long-term success.

3. Align Your Teams

Less than 30% of employees feel their work goals align with the company’s overall goals. Ensure alignment through transparent communication using tools like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).

Embark on Your Growth Journey

Ready to transform your growth strategies beyond the numbers? Download our Action Plan and delve into the full Voice of SMBs report.

Published on February 19, 2024.

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