If you believe starting your business is the hardest part of the entrepreneurial process, think again. While turning an idea into a running business is challenging, growing your business into a successful enterprise is very difficult.
There are many different dynamics that go into producing business growth – your processes and systems have to be aligned to ensure that each business activity supports the other. There is no way that you can produce long-term growth without having your business operate with a synced flow of actions. Even if momentary short-term growth is sustained, your business will eventually succumb to bad practices.
Grow Your Business with proper planning – the act of developing effective strategic planning.
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Strategic Thinking: Enabling Growth to Occur
An effective business leader is one who has developed their strategic thinking skills. Strategic thinking is the act of learning how to position your business for both short-term and long-term growth by developing your ability to effectively function as a cohesive team, enhancing your problem-solving skills, and possess the ability to think critically. Strategic planning is also used as a tool to help you prepare for change head-on, plan for successful transitions into new phases, and openly take on new possibilities and opportunities.
Strategic thinking is thinking towards the future of what you want your perfect scenario to be for your business, then working backward by implementing the steps that will allow you to reach your desired business destination.
When developing a strategic plan for your business, you will need to focus on five different criteria to make your plan achievable. The five criteria outlined will help you produce your desired outcome.
Your business’s organization consist of your employees, the organizational structure of your business and the resources needed to make everything work well together. What is the right structure for your organization? Will the proposed structure support your vision? What will be your strategy to combine people, resources and the structure together to produce the desired results?
Strategic thinking gives you the ability to view your business from a position outside of working within it. The practice of enhancing your powers of observation enables you to become more aware of what motivates people, how to become a more effective problem solver, and how to pivot when your first option doesn’t work.
Views consist of the ability to implement different ways of thinking about something. When thinking strategically, you will need to take four viewpoints into consideration when developing your business strategy: the environmental view, the marketplace view, the project view, and the measurement view. You should use views as a tool to help you develop your desired outcomes, identify critical components within your business, and adjust your processes to produce your ideal position.
Can you identify the driving forces that will be a factor in producing your desired results? Have you created your company’s vision and mission that guide your operations? Driving forces develop the key actions you want people to operate within your business – the motivation for your team to perform well.
The following are how you implement driving forces into your business: incentivize individual and organizational performance; empower people and alignment actions together; operating within a defined vision, having a core set of values and goals; increasing productivity through a mission or function; making results necessary and seeking to develop experience; having a committed team, coherent actions that work towards bigger goals, effective work-ethic, productive environment and focus on providing value.
Developing Your Ideal Positioning
As you organize and develop the four phases of your strategic planning process, you will be enabled with the ability to create the ideal position for your business. The outline for your ideal position should be reinforced by: the necessary conditions you have found to facilitate productivity within your business; defining the niche marketplace your business will serve; determining the opportunities to explore either currently or in the future for your business; identifying the core competencies or skills required to elevate the performance of your business and developing the strategies and tactics to be used to make everything work together effectively.
Utilizing Technology to Stay Competitive
It is vital as a business owner that you make it a must to understand and utilize advanced technologies within your business. Technology is an effective tool that works to increase business efficiency and makes it easier to expand operations.
If you have your own accountant or bookkeeper, it is vital that you use accounting software as an extra layer of protection. Accounting software lets you know firsthand about your profits and losses, so no surprises occur. The software should also be used to design and maintain a strict budget for your business.
Planning software or tools
You will need an effective calendar system to keep track of all your activities. There are a wide array of options for online planning systems that can be used to assist you in keeping your calendar organized. Find the right system that meets your business’ needs and be sure to stick with it.
Time tracking software
Use a time tracking device to help you better understand what tasks make you money and what tasks cost you money. Implementing this device will help you determine what tasks to eliminate, what can be outsourced, and what can be improved to increase money generation. If the software requires a fee, you should ask for a free trial first to make sure it’s the best software for your business needs.
Being a business owner, you probably have several email accounts to properly manage the various operations of your business. Having these emails collected in one account will help you to be able to stay organized and aware of your emails, especially important ones.
Mobile internet access
In today’s world having mobile access to the internet makes communicating easier – helping you operate your business from anywhere.
A great example of how this works: to show your level of commitment, you follow up with a client by email within 2 hours of your initial meeting. You are showing the client that you are accessible, punctual, and professional.
When you have made the decision about which types of technology will better enhance your business, you’ll make your business more organized and efficient so that it performs better.
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Ideas for Growing Your Business
If you have gone through the battle of successfully starting a business, and you are ready to further validate your business, working to ensure that your business continues to grow is your next challenge.
You have various ways to ensure this happens, 10 such ways are provided below. Choosing the one that works best (or ones) for your business will be dependent on the type of business you operate, the resources available to you, and the amount of money, time and resources you’re willing to invest on a consistent basis. If growth is what you are after, follow these tips.
1.Expand Your Locations
Business owners typically approach growth by pushing their own growth. If you have confidence that your current business location is operating successfully, you may consider expanding by opening a new location.
2.Offer your business as a franchise or business opportunity
Franchising your business will provide growth and best of all, you don’t have to manage the new location. Now your time will be allocated towards improving your business and producing continued growth.
3.License your product
This can be an effective and lucrative particularly if you produce a service product or branded product. Licensing helps to minimize your risk and is low cost in compared to starting your own company. To locate a licensing partner, research companies that provide products or services similar to the ones you offer.
4.Form an alliance
Business alliances can be a powerful way to expand quickly. A goal can be reached quicker with increased assistance.
Diversifying is an excellent way to grow, that many businesses overlook. Having a business that produces multiple streams of income is a great way to get through dry sales cycles and it doesn’t hurt that it increase sales and profit margins. Here are some of the most common ways to diversify:
o Sell complementary products or services
o Teach niche education or other types of classes
o Import or export products
o Become a paid speaker or writer
6.Target other markets
If your current market is serving you well, don’t make the mistake of being content. There are other markets you can certainly penetrate. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities to exploit.
7. Win a government contract
Doing business with the government is one of the best ways to grow your business.Contact your local SBA and Small Business Development Center to find out the types of contracts available to your particular business.
8. Merge with or acquire another business
There is no reason to compete when there is enough money available for everyone. Search for businesses that provide products or services that complement your own. This will help you gain a better position within the marketplace.
9. Expand globally
When considering this option, you must have a foreign distributor who can carry and resell your product it in their domestic markets.
10.Expand to the Internet
The internet is an open marketplace that is filled with millions of buyers. People are doing more online purchases than they are doing in-store purchases these days.
Developing a Marketing Plan
Marketing involves the investment of a lot of time, money, and preparation. You must have a well prepared marketing plan to produce marketing success. A strong marketing plan will ensure you’re not your scheduling and finances follow strict guidelines.
What can a Marketing Plan do for Your Small Business?
A marketing plan is your guide to successfully penetrating your target marketplace. The information within it includes understanding your target market and how to develop your competitive position in that market, your tactics to reach that market, and how to effectively differentiate yourself from your competition in order to create market share.
Your marketing budget must be included in your marketing plan. Its purpose is to outline the costs associated with how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within the outlined time.
If it’s not in your budget to hire an in-house marketing person or outsource the job, you can write your own marketing plan and develop its budget.
Bend Your Budget When Necessary and Keep an Eye on ROI
A developed marketing budget doesn’t mean that it is the final draft. The process of marketing will involve unplanned marketing tactics needed to be taken so that you can reach your market more effectively.
You must determine whether sticking to your budget is working towards meeting your marketing goals and bringing you a return on investment (ROI).
A plan must be implemented that determines whether what you spend on marketing is effective. Consider the impact that certain marketing activities have had on your revenues during certain business cycles compared to other times. What were the tactics you focused on? Consider which tactics worked well and which didn’t. This process of analyzation is all about determining how to best use your efforts and money in order to produce the best results.
Marketing plans should be maintained and revisited at least annually, but more so every business quarter. When deciding to launch a new product or service, your marketing plan must be revisited so that you can ensure that you are using the correct tactics that will assist in making your new initiative successful.
Marketing is very important because it is the process of communicating and connecting with with your customers. If you don’t take it serious and invest within it, you won’t be in business very long.
Spring which is Government-backed Bank Loans was developed to help small businesses, as they are seen as the backbone of how this nation’s economy thrives. SBA has a large group of financial lenders within its network and has developed a number of financial programs that assist providing solutions to the various financial needs of small businesses.
Before applying for financial assistance, take a look at the following questions to evaluate your business’s financing needs:
- Is more capital needed or is there ways to better manage existing cash flow more effectively?
- What is the best way to define your need? Is more money needed to expand or are you seeking a cushion against risk?
- Is this a needed that is urgently needed in the immediate future? The best terms are obtained when in a position of control, when you anticipate your need,s rather than when looking for money under duress.
- Are your risks expensive to cover? Risk is associated with business, and the level of risk involved will affect cost and available financing options.
- What is the developmental phase of your business? Financial needs are needed most during expansion stages.
- What will the capital be used for? Financial lenders will require that capital be requested for very specific needs.
- What is the health of the industry you operate in? The condition of your industry will determine the different approaches to money needs and sources. Businesses that prosper while others are in decline will often receive better funding terms.
- Do you have a seasonal or cyclical business? Seasonal needs are generally given short- term financing. Loans provided for cyclical industries, are designed to support a business through depressed periods.
- Do you have a strong management team? Management is a critical element that lenders assess.
- Is your need for financing outlined in your business plan? This Is why having a business plan is a requirement for all businesses. All financial lenders will want to see your business plan for the start-up and growth of your business.
Build Your Own Franchise
Is Franchising For You?
Do you want to rapidly expand your business? Franchising might be a consideration if your business model is easy to reproduce and it provides consistent results. A franchise is a legal and commercial relationship between the owner of a trademark, service mark, trade name, or advertising symbol and an individual or group wishing to use that identification in a business. A franchiser owns the right to the name or trademark and sells that right to a franchisee. This is known as product/trade name franchising. The more complex form, business format franchising, involves a broader ongoing relationship between the two parties. Business format franchises often provide a full range of services, which include site selection, training, product supply, marketing plans, and even assistance in obtaining financing. Here are some important things to consider when determining whether your business could succeed as a franchise.
- Realistically, few businesses are franchisable. In order to be successful in franchising, your business should feature a superior product or service that sparks the interest of other potential business owners. After all, you need to convince people to want to buy one of your franchises.
- Your business concept should be easy to share and teach. If your company is based on the knowledge that only you possess, you will have a difficult time franchising it. Effective franchisors create detailed manuals that outline procedures for each aspect of the business. They also create streamlined training programs for managers, owners and employees.
- Your business should be easy to duplicate. In other words, your business must be one that can succeed over and over in many locations. If it can only function in one place, it is not repeatable and, therefore, not franchisable. Be sure that you can systemize your entire business and document its operations. This will ensure that your business processes can be copied by others.
- You should be prepared to navigate the various regulatory and legal obstacles involved in franchising. The federal government has rules, and many states also have requirements that must be met in order for you to sell franchises. Once you’ve begun franchising, some states remain active in the relationship between you and your franchisees by monitoring territorial rights or limiting the transfer and renewal of your franchises.
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Financing Your Franchise
You should know that franchising involves more costs than many other types of businesses. Before investing in the franchising process, be sure that your concept will produce a significant profit.
If you for certain your business will generate adequate revenue as a franchise, you will need to consider the fact that the initial start-up process will require a great deal of cash. You must pay attorneys to handle your legal documents and to register your franchise. Additional costs will include paying accountants, creating marketing materials and running advertising to promote the franchise to prospective franchisees. You will also need to train the employees, develop manuals, and other operating systems to run the franchise. It could cost nearly $250,000 or more to create a sustainable franchise system.
You have been given the comprehensive guide to growing your business. There is surely one tactic you can use in this outline to help you develop and grow your business further. Find out what strategy is best for you to use and work to move your business forward.