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When we think about business development opportunities, we mostly begin by knowing exactly where we are today and what goals we want to reach next.

From there we set out to widen our net and acquire more customers or users for our existing products and services.

Our growth strategy starts with the need to expand our customer base in pursuit of the targets we set.

So we start with the thinking: “I have ten clients, so in order to grow, I need ten more clients, so that I can twenty clients.”

Cast your net wider, catch more fish. Right? Not really.

If Steve Jobs had stuck with only this kind growth strategy, the iPhone would not exist.

What he did instead of simply casting the net wider was connect the dots between Apple’s capabilities and where the customer would want to go next, even before the customer knew himself.

So instead of saying, I need additional ten clients, he said, how do I grow the existing ten I have already.

Net widening is a fine growth strategy, but it is also one your competitors are likely adopting, which means whoever gets new customers faster [perhaps by being cheaper] will come out on top.

There is an alternative.

We can create long-term value for our companies by understanding where the customer is today and where they want to go next.

The path to growth does not always mean having a bigger net. Often it is about taking the time to consider if a net is the best tool for the job.

There are two ways to get married as Seth Godin would say:

[1] Go on Tinder and swipe right, or

[2] Go on a date, and if you like the person, go on another date, get to know your clients, their hopes and dreams and then grow with them.

Grow with your customers.

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