“Growth is never by mere chance. It is the result of forces working together.” — James Cash Penney.
In our series of business growth articles, we have explored some key components for building a successful business growth strategy, the importance of having a purpose, some roadblocks to achieving growth and how to develop a winning business strategy.
Now comes the exciting bit, making it happen, where you will see your plans come to fruition, and you and your team can start to put all your plans into action.
Ready, steady, grow!
“Your value proposition is what sets your business apart from the competition and is the reason why customers choose your business over others. To scale your business exponentially, it is essential to have a value proposition that is both unique and compelling. This means understanding what makes your business different and why it matters to your target market.” Forbes
You have decided upon a business growth strategy; you should have also identified your market, the opportunity size, and what products or services you will promote.
You should also know who your most valuable customers are and be aware of your competition.
Before diving in, take a deep breath and ask yourself if your plans are feasible, achievable and deliverable. Think about and document your strengths and weaknesses.
What are you great at?
They might be a high service level, prompt delivery, high-quality product or the ability to listen to your customer’s needs before offering a solution. Keep doing these things well, and tell people about them. Obtaining testimonials and case studies is a great way to share your strengths and promote your business through marketing.
Where can you improve?
Be honest and list improvement areas; these become your first actions in your business improvement plan. You may need to improve systems, branding, corporate image, and communications across the business, refine team meetings, host one-to-ones or enhance the measurement of business metrics.
Where are you vulnerable?
What are the significant risks in growing your business? Does your business revolve around one or two key people? Dependency on specific individuals poses a risk and can restrict your business growth, so you will need a plan to mitigate this.
What is your competitive edge?
What makes you stand out from the crowd? What’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? Write these down and form your key messages around them.
Create a winning team
Look at your current organisational structure and ask yourself if it is adequate and able to handle an increase in business. If you don’t currently have the right people in the right roles, you may need to make some tough decisions.
Focus on the job roles and competencies you need rather than building the business around existing individual staff members.
Consider recruiting a business development executive who can get to know your customers and your business inside out to prepare you for new growth opportunities.
Get your team onboard
If you want your business growth strategy to have the best chance of success, you will need to get your team on board. Share your purpose, so your staff have a clear understanding of what the company stands for and delivers. See our Staff engagement post for more information.
Establish real sales targets and share these with your team. Give your staff ownership and the tools to deliver. Measure their performance and follow up with them regularly, providing praise and managing poor performance face-to-face.
Chase margin, not turnover
In the first few years of your business, you may have said yes to every opportunity; now, it is about chasing margin, not turnover and being confident in saying no.
Focus on high-margin generating revenue and do more of those pieces of work which make higher profits and have less hassle factor.
Develop strategic partnerships
Build relationships with strategic partners – for example, businesses that are selling something different to you but to the same target market; you may well complement each other.
Work smarter, not harder
Outsource non-core activities such as marketing, social media, website development, accountancy/bookkeeping, and HR so that you can spend your time strategically and operationally on high-revenue generating tasks. It might seem expensive to pay someone, £25-£50 per hour or £400 per day, to do something you could do yourself, but free up more of your non-productive time, and you’ll be surprised what new business you can generate.
Systemise your business processes
Invest in IT software to secure processes and take human interaction out of as many tasks as possible – this helps with consistency, customers will get a consistent and robust level of service, allowing you to step out of the business. Consider ERP – Stock ordering/management systems; CRM – Customer Management and accounts systems. There are many on the market, and some are even sector-specific.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford
Navigate your route to business growth success
Here are some common pitfalls you may encounter as you begin your business growth journey and how to avoid them.
- Set SMART objectives monthly, quarterly, and annually. Stretch these and aim for the moon. One tip is to work to a 90-day plan. When faced with many tasks on the to-do list, ask yourself: What could I do today or tomorrow that will make a positive impact on my business this month? Then do it.
- You cannot do everything yourself, so think about outsourcing or delegating and escape the Owner’s Trap
- Have a plan and review actuals versus budgets and do something different to rectify any variances. Why not ask yourself every Friday afternoon: What went well this week? What didn’t go so well? What am I going to do differently next week? Then, plan those tasks in the diary.
- Surround yourself with like-minded associates and a support network because running a business can be lonely.
- Fail fast and bounce back from the falls and disappointments – James Dyson once said that if you haven’t failed, you are not trying hard enough.
- Find out how to effectively get your product or service to market; if it is a challenge, outsource to a marketing or sales specialist, particularly if it is not your forte.
- Get out there – Be sociable, network, go to seminars, events, Expo’s. Interact, learn and get yourself known in your marketplace.
- Your best salespeople are your customers – make sure they become advocates. Ask for testimonials and case studies to build social proofing. Keep in close contact with these customers as they will have many contacts they could introduce/refer you to.
- Keep a close eye on your finances and future working capital requirements. Rapid growth can cause just as many company failures as having no growth. Ensure you use accountancy software such as Xero, QuickBooks, Sage One etc. Create and have current robust business KPIs at your fingertips; this helps when you go for funding or to the bank to finance growth. Take a look at our 12 tips for managing cash flow.
Don’t let doubt stop you from growing your business
We all have moments of doubt from time to time. As business leaders, we must push through them and believe in ourselves. As if this wasn’t hard enough, we have to learn how to believe in ourselves when we are feeling at our most alone and vulnerable. In amongst that noise, we then have to be able to recognise when we are the very factor that is holding back the company’s growth! The only way to do this is to commit to growing your business by making the changes necessary whilst maintaining our self-belief!
Don’t become an employee in your own business.
Working long hours seven days a week will not make you more productive, effective or successful. It will make running your business a chore and a millstone around your neck; you will become a slave to the tasks and needs of the business.
Take time for yourself by planning your downtime in the diary now at the start of the New Year – plan your family holidays and put these in the diary first. Work around these dates and don’t cancel, because if you don’t take your holidays, you’ll compromise your most important relationships.
I hope that our series of business growth articles has motivated you to think about some of the things that you need to implement in order to grow your business. If you feel overwhelmed by these considerations, that’s normal; no one can achieve their aspirations without help and guidance.
If you think you could benefit from help and guidance from someone who has been where you are and encountered the same challenges, please contact us.
We can arrange a free business health check to help you set a clear vision and understand the key steps you need to take to fulfil your aspirations for business growth.