Growing your business requires careful planning at the best of times — and doing so in an unpredictable market comes with additional challenges. Today, businesses face fierce competition for labor, supply chain shortages and disruptions, plus fluctuating consumer demand amid rising inflation and interest rates.

But these uncertain times bring fresh opportunities, too. The pandemic has, perhaps permanently, altered customers' needs and expectations — and businesses who can address those needs are poised to thrive. And, as disruptors pop up across multiple sectors, investing in innovation can help businesses stay ahead of their competition and even open up new markets.

However, growing successfully calls for a deep understanding of where customers are today and plans to address challenges as they arise. As you expand your business, keep an eye on the following best practices to set yourself up for success.

Put forecasting first

Demand planning — anticipating potential fluctuations in customer demand and adjusting your business strategies accordingly — forms the foundation for a strategic expansion. Strong demand forecasting helps you manage inventory to support a healthy cash flow, and it also helps you better understand customer behavior to adjust your growth strategy accordingly.

As you prepare to grow, ensure you understand how to forecast demand in times of uncertainty to make data-driven decisions as you expand.

Focus on key accounts

Even as you set your eyes on acquiring new customers, your core clients should come first. Not only does this benefit your bottom line, as retaining customers is less costly than acquiring new ones, but a stable of “tried andtrue” clients can help your business weather times of uncertainty.

Identify top priority accounts — ones with large contracts, those who are likely to stay with you for a long time, or those that are likely to continue to grow — to focus your attention, and ensure you’re continually meeting their expectations[1].

Explore new offerings

Changing times bring new opportunities to add value, and businesses are looking to innovate. Research from PwC reports that 51% of business executives plan to develop new business models in the wake of the pandemic, and 78% anticipate their business will transform in the next few years due to changes in the market[2].

Keep up with the competition as you grow by finding novel ways to meet customer needs. Consider introducing or expanding digital offerings, investing in innovation to launch new iterations of successful products, or developing entirely new business models to meet customer needs.

Rethink your positioning

Connecting with new customers requires a deep understanding of their pain points and needs, and your branding should reflect your brand values and how your brand can fit into customers’ lives. As consumer behaviors have shifted, it may be worth revisiting how your brand fits into the market — and how well your branding reflects who you are today.

Take time to reflect on your brand story and core values, and ensure they’re reflected in your marketing to ensure your future efforts resonate with your customer base.

Build your reputation

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of growth — but businesses should keep an eye on the foundational strategic work that will set their organization up for long-term success. As you grow, remain true to your core values to ensure each expansion feels authentic. Consider, too, how your values may have expanded — for example, to include greater commitments to sustainability and social equality — and how these values shape your company mission.

Your efforts will benefit your business beyond acquiring new customers when done well. Employer branding is increasingly important for attracting top talent[3], so it can help you assemble the team you’ll need to accelerate growth and build a reputation that lasts.