Growth is something many businesses strive for. It’s fun to grow a business – to increase its revenue, its staff size and its impact.
However, without some checks and measures you could find your business careering out of control and towards a destiny you hadn’t planned. Without some strategic business pillars in place you could lose sight of your key goals and objectives.
Here are five ways to ensure that your growth is tracking in the right direction.
1. Create a 12-month Strategic Plan
Like it or not, business success starts with a good plan. Start with a 12-month plan, not a five-year or 10-year plan. Business is moving and changing very quickly, and when your business is small and nimble, a 12-month high-level view is a great place to start to carve out your major business goals.
- Where do I want to be in 12 months’ time?
- How will I get there?
The answers to those two questions – considered along with finance, marketing, human resources, technology and performance measures – create the framework for you to drill down into greater detail with specific goals and actions.
For example, if your goal is to have revenue of $250,000, how does that break down over 12 months? Are there seasonal implications, or is the rise in revenue stable across all parts of the year? What increases can you expect month in and month out, and what marketing and sales activity will drive that growth? What resources (human and otherwise) will you need to deliver and produce in order to meet your goals?
Review your plan (and your progress against the plan) on a monthly basis and make adjustments and corrections to both your predictions and your actions and activities accordingly.
2. Upgrade Your Systems
Running your business when you are a one-woman band is quite different to having others support you and really grow your capacity to deliver. A growing business requires a team. Even if you choose to employ few or no full-time staff, you’ll need systems for managing virtual staff, suppliers, consultants etc.
What should you systemise? Anything that needs to be done more than once. For example:
- How do you answer the phone and take messages? Systemise it.
- Do you get the same questions over and over again from customers? If so, could templates help speed up response times?
- What day of the month do you invoice clients? Meet with your bookkeeper? Send your newsletter?
Systems free you up, free your staff up and allow predictable turnkey results time and time again.
3. Hire for Where You Want to Go
Trying to do everything yourself is a sure-fire way to stifle growth. Use your time doing what you do best and outsource the rest. (I know that’s easy enough to say but not always as easy to do when you’re on a tight budget, so start small.)
Can you outsource the scheduling of your social media activity? Can investment in a good marketing writer double or triple your e-newsletter sign-ups and free you up to focus on what you’re good at?
Hire for where you want to go. You may need to start paying for someone now and know that your return will be in a few months when you have been further freed up to grow the business. Hiring someone with the right expertise can mean the job is completed faster and more effectively than it was before.
Spend money where the return on your time is greater than the cost of employing someone to do the task.
4. Budget for a Financial Investment in Your Growth
You can’t scrimp and scrape your way to growth. There is a point where we need to invest in resources – equipment, staff, mentoring or training, or specialist expertise.
So, start tracking and reporting on your numbers now. Don’t know your cost of sales from your expenses? Long-term success is near impossible without some solid financial understanding.
Even if you’re not a numbers person, work with your accountant or bookkeeper to empower you to know what’s happening with your numbers.
Sustainable growth comes from taking control of your numbers.
5. Leverage Technology
Technology is one of the biggest levellers in business. No matter how small your business, you have equal access to great tools that make running a business and growing it more cost effective, mobile and efficient.
The right technology will revolutionise your business and its performance.
Key technology areas essential to your long-term growth are:
- CRM (customer database): A robust database of your clients and prospects, sales transactions and communications with clients.
- Accounting/bookkeeping: A reliable system (no, not a spreadsheet!) for managing your business numbers and creating reports that keep your finger on your business’ pulse.
- Website: If you don’t have a website you don’t exist to millions of people who search for services using the internet. Your website is your virtual front door.
- Marketing (including marketing automation tools): Well-planned automated marketing systems take a prospect on a journey towards buying from you.
Setting up the technology may take some time, but it will be well worth it.
Whether you want to create a multi-million-dollar business or make just enough to replace the income from your last job, ongoing growth and sustainable growth take planning and investing in the future of your business.
You’ve started a business. Hats off to you. Now, take a moment to step back and really plan well for your growth.
Find out how Intuit QuickBooks Online can help your small business succeed by visiting the website.