The 10 DIY Steps to Growing Your Business
So your business is going great, revenues are somewhere between £500k and £3m, and being an entrepreneur you’d like to successfully grow it into something more substantial. How do you do it?
- Plan. A business plan does not have to be complicated, sophisticated or long. Initially it’s a document for your own use, with your workings out detailing the sales revenues you realistically believe you can achieve and the cost structure necessary to generate and support that level of business. Remember, cash is king, so if your plan is in the form of a P&L, work out a cashflow forecast as well.
- Strategise. What are you trying to achieve? Write it down in words. Not sure what to write: search the internet and look at other business’s strategies to get ideas for your own. What will success look like? How will you measure it? When you’ve done that, write subset strategies for each key business area e.g. marketing strategy, product strategy, customer service strategy, people strategy, each with their own measurements of success.
- Work out how you’re going to do it, in detail. How big is your market, where do you stand vis-à-vis your competitors, what are the opportunities you can exploit, how are you going to attract new customers, what about parallel markets, international markets, cross-selling opportunities?
- Decide what part you’re going to play. To date you may have been able to do it all, but that’s got to change otherwise it’ll be you that’s the limitation on business growth. You can either narrow down your responsibilities and appoint people to fill the gap; or broaden but lighten them, so you still keep involved in all aspects of the business but not to the depth you currently are and, again, appoint people to fill the gap.
- Fill the gap. Work out what jobs are needed to fill the gap you’ve left behind, as well as the work needing to be done that hasn’t been done well before, and surround yourself with exceptionally talented highly motivated people who take on these responsibilities and fulfil them amazingly well.
- Increase the quality of people working in your business. Is your business full of highly talented people performing at their maximum? If not, learn how to recruit great people; implement performance appraisal, personal development plans, coaching, training; make sure you offer competitive rates of pay and benefits; create a culture where high performers thrive.
- Streamline processes. As you grow, your business processes need to be properly documented, slick and efficient. If they’re not, you’ll be forever throwing resources into solving problems that you didn’t need to have. If they are, your business starts becoming scalable.
- Focus on customers. Take the leap from focussing your business’s goals on what you want to achieve to focussing them on what customers want to achieve from your products and services. If you’ve been successful to date, the probability is that you know all about providing great customer service. Now you need to make sure that customer service becomes engrained in the DNA of absolutely everyone in your business.
- Protect yourself from competitors. As you grow, your world is likely to become more and more competitive. You’ll be a bigger threat, and every weakness you have is likely to be exposed and exploited. So sort out your weaknesses, create ‘clear blue water’ between what you offer and your competitors’ offerings. Make your business so good it’s hard for anyone to compete against.
- Develop your brand. Build the image of your business in your target markets, make sure your brand values are well communicated not just in your marketing activities but in everything that’s done by your business, from how the phone is answered, through to the welcome visitors receive, the way you communicate with customers, suppliers and all other parties, to the quality of your products and/or services.