Thursday 11 June 2020 7:40 pmEY Talk

Seven drivers of growth: Unlocking potential and growing your business in turbulent times

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In a world disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and a looming recession it may be hard to focus on growth. But analysing the exciting possibilities of a business for long-term success is a necessary, if difficult, challenge on the road back to the new normal and will require leaders to think differently about their business.

EY has a long history of working with many of the world’s most ambitious entrepreneurs and supporting them to accelerate their journey to market leadership. We have learned from these business successes and distilled the insights of the entrepreneurial leaders behind them to create a framework for growth. We call it the EY 7 Drivers of Growth.

When businesses think about strategy, they may focus only on a few areas. Our research into the success of many of the world’s leading businesses has shown that those businesses look at a broader set of capabilities, and work out how to balance their investments in time, money and energy across all areas. From this we have identified the seven areas of focus outlined below.


From the beginning, the best companies seek to make customers their central focal point. This customer-centric approach is an essential starting point. Successful businesses understand that putting customers’ needs and desires first is the easiest way to achieve competitive advantage. In order to put customers at the heart of what they do, requires knowing all you can about customers. You have to understand their needs, desires, pain points and ambitions. This insight is the only way to be able to anticipate future needs and deliver preferred experiences to build loyalty and long-term growth. This focus and desire for knowledge has to be relentless and continuous. Even market leaders are constantly thinking about how to engage and delight their customers in all their markets.


Any organisation is only ever as good as the people working for it. This is particularly true in today’s service-based economy. This means attracting and keeping the best talent. To do this, leading businesses build an environment that values diversity. But they also employ people who fit the company’s culture, who share its purpose and vision. The best businesses have a clarity of purpose and vision and connect this to performance management and rewards. They provide strong leadership and create an inclusive environment where differences are valued and people can innovate to drive the business forward.


Technology is transforming every aspect of every business. Deployed properly it enables leaders to make better, quicker and smarter decisions that respond to rapidly changing customer needs. It improves business performance and helps manage risk. Data analytics in particular is having a profound impact in every industry, presenting both opportunities and challenges. Particularly in the post-COVID environment, new technologies are changing how customers relate to and interact with businesses and are creating new business models. The organisations doing the most to successfully harness the power of technology are deploying artificial intelligence and automation to enhance human potential, enabling increased focus on innovation, creativity and strategic thinking and creating a powerful competitive advantage.


An organisation’s operating model is the link between strategic intent and execution. Aligning operations with strategy will increase a company’s ability to succeed — even as it contends with the upheavals of a post-pandemic economy which will reshape customer needs and buying patterns and potentially encourage new market entrants. Leading businesses pursue continuous improvement across all aspects of their operations. Focused on details, the best understand that every aspect of the business must hold up to scrutiny and constantly improve to stay ahead. Operations need to be flexible enough to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, allowing the business to seize opportunities and mitigate risks.


All businesses need funds to grow. How a business manages its money — and any investors — will determine its future. Driven by a growth strategy, leading businesses determine the best financial approach at every stage, deriving maximum benefits from careful management of available funds. To achieve this, they transform their finance function into one that acts more strategically and commercially, and where the CFO can devote more of their time to being an economic advisor who helps improve performance by delivering critical insights to decision-makers.  In order to free up time for this strategic work, it may be necessary to seek alternative ways of delivering finance operations such as reporting and the provision of good quality and timely management information


Market-leading businesses rarely evolve by organic growth alone. To rise to the top, they seek successful partnerships and strategic acquisitions to enhance growth, competitiveness and profitability. Smart leaders are quick to grasp the value of transactions and alliances.


Good risk management delivers reduced volatility within the business. There is a strong correlation between the maturity of risk management and revenue and profit growth. At every stage of a business’s growth, the ability to identify and manage risk is a vital element of success. The best businesses find the right balance between managing risk and taking risk to navigate change and drive sustainable growth.

Read more: 5 questions mid-market businesses need to ask about risk management today

EY has distilled the above thinking to create the EY 7 Drivers of Growth. This is a strong framework for thinking differently about how to deliver business strategy, it has helped hundreds of businesses unlock their full potential and realise growth ambitions faster. Isn’t it time you did the same for your business?

We invite you to join EY Velocity — a digital platform to help agile companies build, grow and transform using the EY 7 Drivers of Growth framework – designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and built by EY. Visit