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Understand These 3 Things Before Crafting a Growth Strategy It is essential to know the who, where and why before putting the strategic pen to paper.

By Andrea Olson Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every organization wants to grow, but the challenge is always how. We often struggle with identifying new opportunities. We examine competitors, yet don't see a clear path to differentiation. Or we get consumed by company gravity, where unique ideas get killed by resistance to change from the status quo. The problem is before we can start down the path of developing an organizational strategy, we need to have a firm grasp on the not-so-sexy fundamentals. Those organizational truths that form the basis of insight-driven decision making.

However, this can be lengthy, slow and hard. We want to jump to action, instead of reviewing, weighing and assessing information. Because we want to keep momentum, we skip the step of deeply understanding our current state, identifying specifically where the organization is losing customers and money, or more importantly, why. We often only capture high-level KPIs, discuss them in a so-called strategy meeting, skipping the process of questioning the cause and effect of those outcomes.

Even though challenging, any good strategy has these fundamental insights established upfront. Yet, great strategies are a different breed, born from not just knowledge of current state, but future needs. This doesn't come from extensive industry research, competitive analysis or big data mining, but from a better understanding of your customers. Customers are the lifeblood of every organization — there's no revenue without them. However, deep customer insights are often left out of the strategic planning process.

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