If you need help growing your small business you are not alone. Successful small business owners typically do not lack the great idea or passion to grow their business. However, once you hit a certain level it can be difficult to make the next big growth step. It becomes less about doing what you do well and more about scaling a small business. Not everyone has the skillset, mindset, experience or education to properly scale a small business. Most people think if they just had an endless supply of money that they would easily be able to scale their business. Money does not scale a business; execution does.
I am not a business consultant, growth coach, sales guru or any other tag you want to throw on it. I am merely speaking from real life, practical experience that I have gained through growing my own business and helping hundreds of clients grow theirs.
Operations - Ready the Troops
A lot of people will tell you that growing a business is all about sales. I am a huge fan of sales and think it is a very important aspect. However, if the operations of your business sucks then all the sales in the world are not going to help you grow. Putting an emphasis on sales before operations are ready is like putting the cart before the horse; it just doesn't make any sense. The key in operations is having a repeatable process, which will promote the scalability of your business.
Focus On a Repeatable Process
Having a repeatable process is what I believe the key to scaling a business is. The reason I say this is because a repeatable process can be integrated with every aspect of your business. Your processes need to be dialed in for every single aspect of your business. Once your processes are dialed your business is ready to scale. Additionally a set of business processes should allow your business to operate even if you did not exist as a business owner. I tell small business owners to design their business where they could drop dead tomorrow and their business wouldn't skip a beat. That might sound sick, but it is a mentality that really makes you think and it works.
Processes that you need to think about and detail out include:
- How do we find employees?
- How do we train employees to work in our repeatable operations process?
- What are contingency plans when A, B and C happen?
- How do we market?
- How do we sell?
- How do we measure?
The list goes on and you should get it by now. Every aspect of your business needs to be written down in detail. When your processes are that detailed you are ready to grow.
Marketing & Sales
Marketing and sales are an area that some small businesses struggle with. Some business owners have a great idea for a product or service. However, when it comes to marketing or selling their great idea they are clueless. They would rather work on development than marketing. You can't do something great that you don't love or that you don't have knowledge of; and that is the case with many small business owners when it comes to marketing and sales.
Selling your product or service is an absolutely crucial part of scaling your business. Without sales you can't grow and without marketing you won't have any prospects to sell to. If marketing and sales is an area that you struggle with then I highly suggest hiring some professional help in those areas.
Measure & Adjust
One massive part of scaling your small business is measuring the results and making the necessary adjustments to stay on track with your goals. As a small business owner you are required to understand your financial reports. You may not handle the day to day bookkeeping but you definitely need to be involved with the financial reporting analysis each week, month and quarter. It is also imperative to create a financial forecast and budget each year. You need to enter your budget into QuickBooks so you have an easy way to compare actual financial results vs your budget. As you scale you will need to be able to easily analyze your financial results and make adjustments to stay aligned with your goals.
Another big part of growing your small business is staying relevant. You can't be a follower; you need to be a leader. That means staying relevant in your industry by keeping up with what is going on. Becoming a thought leader within your industry will make you stand out and will fuel the growth of your business. If you are not an early adopter you may be left in your competitions dust. You need to stay relevant or you will be replaced by technology or by a competitor.
So you have done everything above but you still can't hit your growth expectations? No need to worry because you still have some options. Have you thought about merging with or acquiring a competitor? Acquiring a competitor is a great way to grow quickly as long as you make a smart acquisition.
Another thought is to raise some capital by seeking a private investment or a business loan. If you have all the great ideas but you are lacking in the operating capital don't be afraid to seek out money. Some entrepreneurs have no problem with the idea of raising funds, while to some small business owners this is something they want to avoid completely. I think if you are really serious about growing your business you are likely to need some funding in some form, so it is something you should try and get comfortable with.
Importance of Delegating
The last thing I want to touch on regarding scaling your small business is the importance of delegating. I really think that delegating is something you need to get comfortable with and also very good at. I see lots of solo business owners hit a massive roadblock because they are not very good at delegating. There is only so much that you can do in your small business and at some point you are going to have to let go of certain tasks. Those that think they are the only one that can do a task correctly in their business are eventually going to hit a ceiling on sales. Set up the right processes in your business, delegate the tasks and then manage them is what will allow you to scale to infinite heights.
What challenges to you face in growing your small business?
Photo Credit © Dollar Photo Club / Sergey Nivens