In the last four blogs (see links below), our focus has been on “growing your small business,” and all this entails. We have covered the following:
Now it is time to bring it all together and write your plan outlining the changes you want to make, the strategies for growth and tactics you plan to introduce, along with the costs and risks you need to consider.
Your 12-month plan should include the following ingredients:
Earlier in this series, we discussed your “Why” factor that describes your reasons for being a business owner, and identified your ideal customer. We have also done other series on the importance of your ‘why’ and ‘ideal customer profile.’
So, let’s move on to the other ingredients for your growth strategies.
The reasons you began the business and why you want to grow it are essential considerations when setting your goals, as you do not want to set goals that are either unachievable or too modest. You also need to consider your personal objectives, as your lifestyle will be affected as you grow your business.
Remember that goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
For example, if your goal relates to increasing customers, be specific about the number of new customers you want to attract during the time frame you have set.
Look at short-term goals that will give you quick wins and long-term goals, such as introducing new products or services.
In our post on uncovering your growth potential, we reviewed what is working with your current marketing and potential new opportunities.
Use this to determine what changes you will make to your current tactics and new initiatives to introduce, along with the expected impacts on your business.
You must have a good handle on your metrics here.
Here is a personal example:
In “Business Growth: Your Team and Tools,” we discussed the need for a team to grow your business. One of the main factors in developing a team approach is the funding required in the expansion process.
Accordingly, you will need to make decisions based on your needs and available funding. Resources need to be allocated in such a way to reflect your vision for new business growth but will need to be prioritized to ensure they can be funded.
In his book “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” Michael Gerber discusses drawing an organization chart based on functions. You might start with your name in many roles, with the goal of replacing yourself as the business grows.
By the way, although this book was published more than 20 years ago, it is still essential reading for anyone wanting to grow their business.
Look at all the responsibilities, the current and future costs of personnel, and what future funding you will need to access.
It is vital to decide upon what changes you will need to make to your business processes and the tools required to make those changes. Do these changes require additional funding, will there be cost savings, and how will they impact the achievement of your goals?
This is where you get down to the real nitty gritty. You need to be able to meet the extra expenses you will incur until the growth provides the income and cash flow to fund itself. Consequently, detailed cash flow forecasts are vital.
You need to keep the core business running while you roll out all the new changes you want to make, and in my experience, things usually take longer than you expect, so ensure you have a surplus built in for such contingencies.
There is nothing more stressful in business than cash flow problems, so getting professional assistance with your financial forecasts is essential.
When we discussed your goals earlier, we identified they should be timely. This is where deadlines come in. You must set deadlines to achieve your targets. Use deadlines for each project, as these will help you achieve your 12-month goal plan.
However, changes often take longer than projected, so be patient. If you monitor your progress, you can massage the deadlines.
Focus on small achievable goals in the beginning. You don’t want to get burnout by having too much on your plate.
These dates will also assist you as they will be the milestones or stepping stones to your success.
Knowing exactly where you stand as your business grows requires regular monitoring to track your progress and meet your growth targets.
Here are some of the important metrics to follow:
Monitor this data and use it to make adjustments as you implement your plan.
In conclusion, review the other four articles in this series. Start by doing your analysis and research. Find out what other businesses in your industry are doing and see what’s working for them. Then, come up with a plan that will work for your business. Be sure to set realistic goals and timelines, and don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Finally, always keep track of your progress and adjust your plan as needed.
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