You took the big step and got your business started. It probably took a huge amount of research, planning and hard work and a large dollop of courage.
Now it’s running along but you want to earn (much) more money and grow. But you also know your business has hit a plateau and while you want to take it to the next level, you’re not sure how.
Point of frustration
Almost every business, big or small gets to this point and it can be a major point of frustration for you the business owner, if you’re feeling unsure about how to move forward.
The trap of doing not planning
Lots of small business owners get so caught in the day-to day of running their business, they don’t have time to expand it.
Roland Hanekroot, Director of New Perspectives Business Coaching has seen it often.
“In my experience, I find that most business owners are overwhelmed because they all have at least 20 thousand priorities that need their attention at the same time and they’re running around in crisis management mode.
The reality is they don’t have time for any of them, or know which one to tackle first.”
Lacking in business skills
“I often coach tradespeople and professionals, such as chefs or architects - people who have an expertise and who started a business based on that.
The problem is, they may know how to be a great plumber but don’t know how to write a staff manual or do many of the other things that a business person has to do on a daily basis.”
But it is possible to get off the treadmill and get ahead.
Move your business into a growth trajectory
1. Review your performance
First up, measure how your business is doing – its strengths and weaknesses. One US business coaching company, suggests that every business has the same five core sub-systems; marketing, sales, fulfilment, admin and people management.
They suggest if any of these systems are not working they can prevent your business from growing.
“Once you have identified problem areas then ask, “How can I improve in each of these core areas", they recommend.
“Owners frequently underestimate the impact that one change can make on the entire system. It’s not uncommon for one relatively small adjustment to open the gate for dramatic revenue growth.”
2. Re-do your business plan
Growth requires new resources. You may need added finance, more insurance, new premises, more staff, or to outsource or offshore production. Sustainable growth is crucial, so you don’t burnout or burn your customers because you can’t deliver. Plan your growth so that it will be long lived.
Adding new products and services to your offering and/or expanding into new markets can be a simple way to grow a business. Also look at opportunities for exporting or setting up e-commerce, so that buyers can order from your website.
4. Create alliances
Gemma, a talented fashion designer who lives in country Australia, struggled with marketing her business. Accepting her limitations, she approached a national chain and asked them to take a punt with a limited run of her garments.
"They looked after the distribution and retailing of my product, and I got on with what I was good at. It was a huge relief and a massive boost for my fledgling business."
5. Improve your customer experience
Online fashion retailer NET-A-PORTER's CEO, Natalie Massanet, famously cited that their early success was due to the beautiful boxes and wrapping their product arrived in.
That the packaging not the actual product made them stand out. The lesson; creating a wow experience for your customer that sets you apart can help you rise amongst the competition.
6. Focus on sales
Australian high performance coach for entrepreneurs, Siimon Reynolds, says the fastest way to grow your business is by putting your attention on sales.
Writing in Forbes Magazine he says, “I have mentored literally thousands of business owners and almost every time I see a business not performing it is primarily because they are not spending enough hours in the day on the sales process.
Either refining how they sell or getting out there and getting face to face with potential customers.
How much time should you spend on sales? Well if you’re running a new business you should devote at least 80% of your day to it.
If you’re an established business you should spend at least 30% of your day on the sales process or connecting with customers. Does that sound too extreme? It shouldn’t. What else could you be doing that is more important?”
7. Get help
Hanekroot acknowledges that not everyone can afford a business coach, especially if they're in the early stage of their business. But, he says, “there are plenty of other opportunities for getting help that doesn’t cost”.
“Start a business buddies group or join a networking group like BNI. The sheer fact of being with 30-40 other business owners, is a very supportive business environment.
They get it. They pass on referrals to each other. In a group you can mentor each other and that can be very powerful.
If you can afford a coach you get to tap into experience, knowledge and wisdom plus an independent view. In my coaching, I hold people accountable, we work towards goals in a structured manner.
People achieve 10 times as much working with a business coach than they do without one.”
Ultimately says Hanekroot, growth is a process that takes time.
“Many small steps consistently taken lead to big change. It’s all about getting very clear about where you want to go, then goal setting and then turning that into action plans, and keeping everything small and achievable.”
Disclaimer: This is not financial or professional advice. We recommend you obtain independent advice before making any financial or commercial decisions. To see if NRMA Business Insurance is right for you, always read the Product Disclosure Statement from the product issuer, Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 trading as NRMA Insurance.