So, you’ve started out in business and things are going pretty well. You’re building your reputation, and even starting to make a little money. How can you go about getting that all important growth that will carry you through to the next level?
Make A Plan
When I was a young business owner, my tough east end of London Cockney mentor drove into my head this mantra; Proper Planning Prevents **** Poor Performance. (The **** was a slightly rude word for urine). He was a rough diamond, and self made man yet every move he made had a plan attached to it. A plan which was, as far as possible populated by numbers.
“We will dominate the market for widgets” is a wish, not a plan. A plan is more like, “We will raise our market share of sales of widgets by 10% over each of the next three years, by increasing our sales force by two, and enforcing tighter quality control so that returns represent less that 0.01%.”
Set Key Performance Indicators
Part of your plan should be KPI’s, but it’s a good idea to set Key Performance Indicators for all measurable areas of your business. You will not grow if you don’t measure. Staff turnover, sick days, utility costs, nothing should be so insignificant that it isn’t being measured, thought about and improved.
Have Champions For New Ideas
Allow new ideas to bubble up, and appoint champions for them. For example, if someone comes into your office and asks if they can work flexible hours, have them champion that idea, bring you the pros and cons, and figure out what it might mean for your business. If people are given ownership of ideas, great and small, they will thrive and grow in front of your eyes.
Challenge The Way Things Have Always Been Done
“But we’ve always done it that way”, should be words which are never uttered on your business premises. New is not always better, but it’s amazing how often it is. Continuously challenge the received wisdom of your business, and take particular care when you think that staff or customers aren’t going to like something.
Trust Your People
If you’re going for growth, then take the team along with you. Tell them that you have ambition, and make them part of the action.
Don’t Forget The Basics
How many times have you heard, or even said, something along the lines of, “They’ve got to big for their boots, they’ve forgotten their customers.” More than a few, I’d be prepared to bet. So, never ever let your customers feel left behind. They are the ones who are going to fund your growth, and in fact create your growth, so they had better be left feeling that they are King of the Castle around your place.
Develop A Great Team
You are only as good as your staff, that’s just a fact. You must create a great team of happy people.
I regularly use a hardware store, in fact, at the moment I go in there most days because I’m having a house built. I have a choice, but, I like this one because the staff are so friendly and helpful. Last week I happened to have dinner with a friend of the owner, and mentioned how much I liked the store. “Oh,” she said, “that’s no surprise. The owner there really looks after her people. She brings them in new food to try, has a masseuse who comes every week, has a counselor if they get into problems, she treats them like family.”
Now I have spent many thousands of dollars with that company, as I know do others. Do you think it cost that owner as many thousands to provide those services to her people? This standout company is growing like Topsy. Use these ideas and principles, and yours can do the same.