It seems to me that most small business owners number one priority and goal is growth. Everyone wants to grow their small business.
Buy why? Why do you want to grow your small business?
To make more money? To increase profits? To create jobs? To buy a bigger house? To change the world?
I could go on and on about the why. Everyone knows they want to grow their business but very few truly understand their real why. Not what you tell yourself is your why, but the truth.
We are going into our 12th year of doing business, which is crazy to me. A business that I started in a basement all by myself with a single simple laptop has evolved into so much more than I imagined.
Now I am by no means claiming to be an expert in small business growth, but I do have some thoughts and opinions on how to grow your small business.
My three necessities for small business growth are:
1. Lead Flow
3. Strategy Implementation
If there is one truth in business it is that sales can solve a lot of your problems.
Cash flow is tight? Go sell.
You can't afford to hire employees? Go sell.
You wish income and profits were higher? Go sell.
The majority of small business owners will tell you that they want more customers.
Having a steady stream of qualified leads is one of the most critical items that will help grow your small business.
But how do you get more leads?
Unfortunately, that is the wrong question you should be asking yourself.
Instead, you should ask, how do you get more of the right kind of leads?
When a business sets out to generate more leads they tend to focus on the volume of leads rather than the quality of those leads. What they should be focusing on is creating a high volume of qualified leads.
If I have learned anything from running lead generation and sales for a small business it is that disqualifying prospects and saying no is a really important part of the job.
Small businesses that try and work with everyone will fail. The business will under-deliver, the customer will get pissed and will churn. The end result is a lot of wasted time and resources.
Focus on creating a high volume of qualified leads and only convert ideal prospects to customers.
Why is your team so critical to the growth of your small business? Because as a one-man show you are only going to get so big.
I think that building the right team and culture for your business is one of the most critical items you will do, and therefore, the hardest...by far the hardest.
Team building and the development of your business culture is a never-ending job. Things are always changing and therefore this particular area needs constant attention from you as a business owner.
Business owners that look at employees as an expense just don't get it. They are destined to fail. I often hear business owners tell me they can't afford to hire anyone because it will cut into their own pay or profits. Those owners can't see the big picture. They can't see through the expense and dip in profitability to the future potential. They don't believe in themselves and their business model enough to even invest in it.
If you are going to grow your business you need to get really good at finding the right talent for your specific business. You then need to empower those employees to reach their full potential and have a positive impact on your business.
The success of your employees is the responsibility of the business owner. Employee development and training is the responsibility of the business.
I've seen great employees tossed into a disorganized business that has no system or operating procedures. Those employees tend to fail and leave; that is the fault of the business, not the employee.
Understand that in order to grow your business you are going to have to hire the best employees that you can afford. You need to train and develop those employees. You need to challenge them. You need to help them achieve their goals. You need to keep them happy.
As I said, building a team for your business is one of the most difficult, yet critical tasks you will do as a business owner.
I love developing and implementing a strategy. Turns out I've always loved strategy, I just didn't realize it. As a child, I loved playing the board game Risk. I was taught to play the card game Pitch probably when I was 6 years old by my grandparents. I still regularly play Pitch to this day and continue to try and master the game. I play lots of poker and chess. All of these games have a common theme of strategy.
To me, developing, implementing, and adjusting strategy is what business is all about.
Once a year I sit down and develop our annual budget. I then work with several different managers to review and modify the budget based on their feedback. Then I develop a three-month forecast, and I continue to repeat that activity every...single...month. Meaning, I develop a forecast for the next three months around the close of every month.
Why? Because I can't run our business without an annual budget and rolling three-month forecast.
The forecast is the tool that I use to implement strategy, analyze the results in real-time, and make any necessary adjustments to keep the business on track.
The annual budget gives me a big picture look at the business. It gives me an indication of large scale goals. What is our revenue target this year? What profit margin are we trying to maintain? What is our hiring plan? To give you an idea of how good we are at developing budgets, last year we beat our annual revenue goal by 0.9%. But the funny thing is how we got to that point didn't look anything like we predicted on a monthly basis.
We guided the business to our goals through our rolling three-month forecast. Once you get in the habit of creating a forecast for the next three months at the end of every month it becomes pretty easy to predict how you are going to perform.
If you don't like how the next three months look, you have the ability to influence them so they look better to you. This is where the strategy piece comes in. You need to use your forecast to adjust your strategy if necessary to keep your business on track.
So those are my thoughts on small business growth. While I have a lot of other thoughts and advice on the subject these are what I feel are the three necessities of small business growth.
If you found yourself reading and nodding your head but are still confused or apprehensive to grow your business you may want to consider our business growth consulting services.
What are your thoughts? What are some of your necessities to fuel small business growth?
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