Growing your business is usually a necessary component of any goal your business may have. Whether you want to reach the global market with your software company or help as many people as possible with your charity, you will always need to grow your business in order
to do so. As international motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “Growth is life. If you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”
Since the GFC, there is mass trepidation regarding the risks involved in growing your business. Although this may seem daunting, it presents a unique opportunity for those who are willing to take chances on new ventures. There is less competition for those wanting to grow, and therefore, more potential benefits for those who are successful.
Here are five tips to help guide you through your business improvement strategy:
TIP 1: Know your goals
Okay, seriously. Is this really one of the tips? Yes, yes it is.
We know this seems obvious and it is always on every list about any form of improvement. But it is on every list for a reason. It is crucial to success.
Maria Marshall, an associate professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, conducted research on small and family-owned businesses. Her advice is to start the goal-setting process by distinguishing your long-term goals from your short-term ones. Your long-term goals should have a timeline of about three to five years and short-term goals are anything less than that.
In addition to this, your business goals need to be clear and specific:
e.g. “I want to make $X profit by January 2015.”
Not “I want more money in a few years.”
Setting goals in this way allows you to construct your business plan in a way that is best suited to achieving that goal. Goals that are vague tend to lead to vague business strategies, which usually leads to unachieved goals. If you got in a taxi and said, “take me north” instead of giving a specific address, you would not make it to your destination. The same goes for your goals.
It is important to ask why you started the business in the first place. Many business owners often get caught up with simply competing with other businesses and don’t consider what they really want to achieve. Think of the reasons why you started the business and ask yourself if your goals are in line with those reasons. If your reasons have changed then that’s fine, but make sure you discover why. This will give you a sense of purpose that will drive you to achieve your goals in the future.
TIP 2: Find the Right Staff
This may also seems like an obvious tip, but what does the “right” staff member really mean? Does it mean a staff member who is qualified for the job? Is personable? Is hard working?
It could potentially be all of those things. But ultimately, it is the staff member who is in-line with your goals as a business owner and is going to help get you to your goals faster than if you did not have that person.
Imagine your business is a bus. Your bus is heading to a destination (your business goals). On the bus are your staff members, with you sitting in the driver’s seat. Now imagine two possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: The wrong people are on the bus
In this scenario, the people on the bus are not the right people. They are constantly moving around, causing arguments and distracting others. As a result, you have to keep pulling over to tell everyone to settle down so you can focus on the road. This slows you down and takes longer to get to the destination.
Scenario 2: The right people are on the bus
In this scenario, the people on the bus are the right people. Instead of bickering and creating distractions, these people are looking for shortcuts to the end destination. They are suggesting directions that may get you to the end destination faster and easier.
You need to have the right people on the bus if you want to achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. Once again, this means hiring people who are in line with your goals. Note, this is not always the most “qualified” person. A person who is very qualified but is not committed to your goals, is not going to be as much of an asset as a less qualified person who is committed. Now, we aren’t expecting that your employees are going to care about the fate of your business more than you are, but there is a spectrum and you should aim for employees on the higher end.
TIP 3: Listen to your customers
Social media is your friend and to ignore its resources in this day and age is to reject a massive source of useful information. According to the Social Examiners 2013 end of year report, 86% of marketers stated that social media is important for their business.
This tip isn’t about social media marketing for your business in the traditional sense, (However, we did do a blog about that. “Social Media Marketing – A beginners guide” ) rather the potential wisdom that you can glean from your customers through social media channels.
Ask customers what they would like to see from your business and give incentives for answering (e.g. a free voucher for the best request). In addition to this, go to your competitors’ social media pages and try to ascertain the things that their customers are looking for too. People are very forward about posting complaints online and are unafraid of voicing what they want to see from a business. This is free market research. Make use of it!
TIP 4: Consider Merging
Merging with the right business has a number of potential benefits:
TIP 5: Move location
This tip needs some careful consideration before diving straight in. In a lot of cases, moving location will not be a fruitful endeavour for your business. However, moving should be considered if the potentially new location could benefit your business in the following ways:
Growing your business is not always an easy thing, however it can be very rewarding if done effectively. So start planning and good luck!
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