Is your small business growing beyond your expectations? If your answer is no do you know what is keeping your small business from growing? It seems like some small business owners are always struggling. They seem beyond busy, but still they are coming up short on their growth aspirations. I certainly don’t have a magic formula for small business growth, but I do understand many of the roadblocks that small business owners face when trying to grow. Here are a few things I believe are keeping your small business from growing.
When you ask a small business owner how it’s going a common response is “good, really busy.” My follow up question is “great so you are blowing your forecast and budget out of the water?” I either get a blank stare because they don’t have a budget or a forecast, or I get a response of “busy but I wish sales were better.” Then the obvious follow up is “what is keeping you from growing your sales?” This question is usually answered with a series of excuses. Most of the answers I would consider poor excuses for not growing a small business. The most common excuse I hear is a lack of time. Unfortunately that is a really bad excuse because time is where all of us are on a level playing field. Then there is the fact that they can’t afford to, don’t want to or don’t know how to hire help. Whether that consists of employees, business consultants or contractors it really doesn’t matter. Nobody has the knowledge or the time to do everything in their business. You need to outsource your weaknesses or areas of business that you don’t like doing.
No Documented Business Process
Most small business owners do not have any formal written record of their business process. A detailed process is one of the keys to scaling a business. I am not much of an operations manager, but I understand the importance of a strong documented process within the operations. It’s not even operations that need a written process, every process you undergo in your business should be written out. That goes for hiring and firing employees, training employees, marketing, bookkeeping, sales etc. The more detailed out your business processes are, the more likely you will be able to scale your business. You should always run your business as if you were going to drop dead tomorrow. I know that sounds weird but that mentality works. If you detail out your business process to the point that anybody could run it then you have opened the doors to lots of possibilities. You could let your business run itself with very little effort from you, you can raise funds from investors, or you can possibly even sell your business.
No Sales Pipeline
Another thing that keeps small businesses from growing is a lack of prospects in their pipeline. It is incredibly difficult to grow a business without a sales pipeline that is constantly being fed new leads. Typically owners once again blame lack of time as the culprit for not having a full pipeline. They are often busy in the operations of the new customer they landed a few weeks ago. Keeping a full pipeline is crucial if you really want to grow your business. If asked how to keep a pipeline full I would reply with three items: networking, inbound marketing and referrals. While referrals are a great source of business you can’t sit back and rely solely on referrals. I often hear a business owner tell me they get all of their business by word of mouth, which is great. However, I wonder how much business they are missing out on by limiting themselves to referrals only.
No Budget and Financial Forecast
It is amazing to me how many small business owners operate without a budget and financial forecast. Additionally many small business owners take the time to create a budget and forecast but never look at it again. You should develop a budget and forecast towards the end of each fiscal year for the following year. It is also important to review your budget versus actual finances as often as possible. I would recommend at least once a month if not more. A budget and a forecast is a roadmap for your business success. You have no way to keep on the path to success unless you are actually reviewing the numbers. Also, be sure to hold the key members of your team accountable for the budget. If sales are low or expenses are high, communicate that to your key team members so that they are aware of the problem. A budget and a forecast is a key indicator if your business is performing well or not.
Don’t Know How To Execute
One of the most important pieces of growing a small business is the ability to execute properly. Tons of people have great ideas right? You definitely know someone that claims to have come up with a great idea, only to have someone else bring it to market before them. They see the new product or service come out on the market and exclaim “Hey that was my idea. I knew I should have done that!” It has nothing to do with the other guy being smarter who brought the idea to the market place; he just had the ability to execute on the idea. Coming up with an idea is one thing, but executing on the idea is whole other ball game. It’s a lot of work establishing and growing a small business. You have to go through the planning stage so detailed that you have proven that this can be a successful business. Nobody has grown a successful small business without taking a calculated risk and executing properly.
Growing a small business is not an easy task, but it is not impossible either. Hope these tips will help you successfully grow a small business of your own.
What tips do you have to successfully grow a small business?
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