Book review: Growth IQ: Get Smarter About The Choices That Will Make Or Break Your Business by Tiffani Bova

Sales & Growth

Here at Incrementa, we share a book a quarter. Each of us chooses one book, we read it, then share our thoughts.

I chose Tiffani Bova’s, Growth IQ: Get Smarter About The Choices That Will Make Or Break Your Business, because it deals with understanding how organic growth is a function of a business strategy and leaving that to chance is dangerous.

Bova’s central idea is that the strategy helps or hinders growth, and we can learn from and understand what has been tested, and what makes sense in any given business.

Let’s get this out of the way first—at times, this is a difficult book to work through.  There are a lot of ideas and examples and the overlap can be a challenge to follow. Plus, the layout isn’t optimal. Complaints aside, the book provides great value to the reader in achieving a clear direction and dedicated approach toward growth.

10 business growth strategies

Bova’s approach in Growth IQ is to lay out ten different strategies. She takes the reader through each strategy—how to implement it, risks and advantages, and countless examples of successes and failures.

For example, Under Armour and Mattel both chose the Market acceleration strategy – taking a brand’s existing product into new markets. The management team at Under Armour has steered their company to significant growth success from a 1995 start-up with a mere $15,000 to a multi-billion dollar brand and they did that while competing with giants Nike and Adidas.

The Market acceleration strategy involves carefully cultivating and dominating new markets.

While Under Armour flourished, Mattel floundered using the same strategy. The difference? Under Armour understood their new market targets, and acted in an agile manner to face challenges head on.

5 keys to growth

The ten strategies are shown in the graphic above, but here’s the first real secret in unlocking the ideas – five keys to growth.

  • Customer experience
  • Customer base penetration
  • Market acceleration
  • Product expansion
  • Customer/product diversification

It is much more cost-effective to maintain and grow your existing customer base (Customer experience and Customer base penetration) than it is to go to the other end of the risk scale which is Customer/product diversification. The latter brings a world of complexity and uphill battles (literally, if you are heading overseas for instance). The five keys are thoroughly investigated within Growth IQ.

5 supporting characters

The other five strategies are more so supporting characters. They don’t standalone and instead support the prior five growth strategies. They are critical in supporting the chosen approach.

  • Optimize sales
  • Customer churn
  • Partnerships
  • Co-opetition
  • Unconventional strategies

For example, Partnerships help drive Market expansion, while Sales optimization is valuable for all strategies, but especially risky for Market acceleration.

Reader tip

If Growth IQ is of interest, here’s an important tip to unlocking this book: don’t read it in the sequence it’s written.

Instead, start with the summary at the end of each chapter, then go back and read the opening for the chapter and skim through the examples. The end-of-chapter summary describes the “so what” of the strategic approach, and it certainly helps knowing that before you dig into the details.

Wrapping it up

Bova’s view of growth strategies available and the risks and rewards of each would have provided useful direction in many of my past meetings, and have helped with recent conversations about organic growth.

As James Cash Penny said almost a century ago, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” Understanding those forces, and how they can work together to help and hinder your business is an important part of the strategy discussion.

Curious about our first 2019 team book review? Check out what we thought about They Ask, You Answer.

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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