In only a dozen years since our founding, EnerBank has crossed the $1 billion market in assets, placing us in the top 15 percentile of the nation’s largest banks. Of course, companies don’t reach $1 billion overnight. Four principles have guided us in reaching higher growth, and these principles can help any organization expand its own operations.

Find your best market opportunity. When you are a small company, it’s key to find your best market opportunity. To illustrate this concept, think of two circles. One circle is what you have to offer. Another circle is what your customer wants or needs. The intersection of those two circles is your market opportunity, which is where we started as a small bank in 2002. Because the home improvement market is so large, we had plenty of opportunity to grow, focusing on just those two circles.

Differentiate your company. Differentiating yourself from your competition, while obvious, is very important as you begin to grow. How do you do that? Picture a third intersecting circle, which is what your competitors don’t offer. Anything that your competitors don’t offer but still fits in your market opportunity is the sweet spot. Our sweet spot early on was the Same-As-Cash loan. These loans drove 20 to 50 percent annual growth because none of our competitors were focusing on these loans at the time. What can that be for you? You can differentiate yourself with premium craftsmanship, speed, customer service, or something else. Once you analyze the three circles, you’ll be able to find something unique.

EnerBank crossed the $1 billion mark in assets in 2015.

EnerBank crossed the $1 billion mark in assets in 2015 by focusing on the needs of its clients and planning steady, measured expansion.

Offer choices. To further increase our sweet spot, we focused on choices for both the contractor and for the contractor’s end customer—the homeowner. By offering choices, you give customers numerous ways to do business with you—it’s not just one option or nothing. In our business, we’ve found that customers appreciate the ability to choose. You can offer a choice of good, better and best. Then, your customers can decide what trade-offs to make to achieve their goals.

Plan and budget for growth. We grew the bank in a sustained manner fully aware that some businesses have grown themselves out of existence. We actually had to pass up a few opportunities along the way because we didn’t think we could effectively service the commitments required. Growth needs planning and budgeting. We have a strong budgeting and planning process that includes ensuring that we have the infrastructure and people in place to accommodate the growth.

You can’t just set a plan and revisit it once a year, however. You definitely have to stay on top of it. We’ve found that successful contractors review their growth planning and budgeting regularly. Involve your entire management team in the process. Better contractors do this on a monthly basis with their key people. Those who don’t won’t necessarily get the buy-in for the plan. It’s important to share results and progress, too. Everyone needs to know where they stand and how they can contribute.

No one becomes a $1 billion company overnight. Growth was a process of finding the sweet spot of where our offerings, holes in competitors’ product offerings and the customers’ needs intersected. When we discovered that intersecting area, we were able to grow substantially. Then, we expanded our choices to offer many ways for contractors to close sales. And, finally, the planning and budgeting process helped us maintain sustained growth. With these principles, you can grow too.