How to Grow a Business with a Solid Plan
In the last post, I addressed strategies for growing your small business. Today, I want to talk about items to consider during your growth phase.
Implications of Business Growth
One of the first thoughts when many business owners think of when it comes to growth is more sales. Yes, more sales is a type of growth. However, more sales doesn’t necessarily mean your business will be more profitable. In an earlier post, I mentioned controlled growth. It can be tempting to grow quickly. However, if it’s not done correctly, it can lead decreased profits rather than positive growth. With that in mind, below are a few key items to consider when strategizing your growth plan.
Set Clear Goals
When the mission and goals of a company are clear, precise, positive and well-communicated, it decreases misunderstandings and increases the chances your company will accomplish its objectives. When I think of goal setting, the acronym S.M.A.R.T. comes to mind. That is your goals should be:
- S-pecific. Goals should be detailed. Think of the Ws. Who is in involved? What does it entail? Why are you doing it? Where will the tasks take place? Which resources will be needed?
- M-easurable. How do you intend on tracking the outcomes? How will you know your goal is complete? Goals should also included a numeric value. For example, increasing customer satisfaction by 2% or increasing sales by $20,000 are specific. Whereas, simply increasing sales or customer satisfaction provide no reference points. You’ll know your goals are complete when you hit the numeric target.
- A-ttainable. Goals should be achievable. If your salespeople are bringing in sales of $20,000 a quarter, it’s unreasonable to think they’ll bring in $1,000,000 a quarter without making significant changes. For instance, hiring more sales staff, a new store, or new product lines. Goals shouldn’t be so easy, they’re not a challenge. However, they shouldn’t set you, your employees, or company up for failure either.
- R-elevant. The goals you set for your company should align with your company’s mission and values. We often talk about staying in our lane at my organization. It’s easy to become attracted by shiny projects, which may seem fun or interesting. However, setting goals related to projects unrelated to your mission can divert staff from more important tasks. Rather than being experts in your field, you may be seen as the company that lacks direction.
- T-ime-bound. Finally, your goals should have deadlines. Using the sales example, you may set a goal to increase sales by $10,000 or 25% by the end of next quarter.
Your Unique Selling Point (USP)
As I mentioned in the past, having the lowest price in town is not your USP. With so many new products and companies entering the marketplace, a business needs to have core competencies that separates it from its competitors. Whether it’s the best customer service, being an expert in your industry, or having a unique way of doing business, it’s important that your company stands out amongst the competitors.
My husband and I are quite fond of going to trade shows, particularly ones that deal with home improvements. One of the questions I like to ask is, “what makes your company different from XYZ company.” Usually, the vendors try to make up something. One particular vendor mentioned, his products were just like the vendor’s products two-three over. I was shocked. In my mind, I thought, if there’s nothing special about what you’re selling, I’m not going to buy it. I’ll go to the vendor 2-3 booths down. Even if it’s the same, I considered his more special, because he said it was special. It’s odd how the mind works. Even if everyone is selling the same thing, we want the best… we want special. Take time to think about what makes your company unique.
Keep Innovation at the Heart of Your Business
Your company should keep innovation in the forefront. Keep in mind, all the ideas don’t have to come from you. Encourage your employees to step up their game and contribute to the wellbeing of the company. With technology always improving, you’re company will need to be innovative to keep up with the competition. A unique and innovative product idea can help your business achieve greater success in a shorter span of time.
Not every company, particularly small businesses, can afford a research department. However, that doesn’t mean you should let research go by the wayside. Investing in research can direct your business on its path of success. Implementing a research tool such as customer surveys can be inexpensive and require minimal time once properly set up. Surveys can help you understand what your customers want, how much are they willing to pay, and what changes or new products/services they’d like you to provide. Getting feedback prior to implementation can save you a significant amount of time and money.
Your customers shop with you for a reason. Find out what those reasons are and exceed their expectations. Your product research may help you develop a firm foundation within your industry.
The bottom line is think before you do. Your company may have a lot of potential. However, if your plans aren’t well thought out, you may be leading your team down the rabbit hole with no return on your investment for your time, money, and energy.