When you started your business you knew that it needed to grow. To increase the chances for growth you created a marketing plan, built out the support needed for success, and made sure your overhead was low. Now, however, you are growing, and you have no plan. You feel like everything is a fire that needs to be put out, and there isn’t time to think about what comes next. What you are missing is a growth plan.
What is a Growth Plan?
A growth plan is a tangible document that deliberately outlines a strategy for your company. It means anticipating what fires may occur before they start and having the tools necessary to put them out quickly before they negatively impact your business. It helps determine what will limit your growth as well as positively impact it. Most importantly, it increases a company’s chances of making it beyond the five year mark and then again beyond the ten year mark.
Know Your Value to the Market
It seems like such an easy thing to do, but it is important to identify why customers and clients are coming to you and not competitors. Is it because your employees are more knowledgeable? Your pricing? Your location? Understanding why you are being set apart from others will help you decide how to support growth. This helps to clearly define a business’ strengths and weaknesses as it moves forward.
Identify Your Ideal Customer
While not every customer is perfect, it is easy to know what you want in a customer. Most businesses would prefer a laid back client that lets you do whatever you want with an unlimited budget. That’s not what we mean here. What we mean is identify the type of client in your industry that would come back. If you are a home nursing company, for an example, your ideal client may be families that need medical support for adults and children with special needs. If you are a restaurant in the middle of a tourist town, your ideal client may be a middle class family with disposable income for a nice meal out.
Understand Your Competition
This doesn’t mean you should send in employees as covert spies or try to hack their email. Instead, know why they do well. Have you met the owner? Is he friendly and accommodating? Do the employees receive extensive education on their products and services? By knowing what they do well you can understand what it takes to survive and eventually thrive in your industry. It’s okay to befriend competitors and ask for advice, receive mentoring, and learn about their decisions. A good way to do this is through professional organizations.
Invest in People
This can be a hard one because good people cost money. However, deliberately and purposefully hiring talent that support your long term goals as well as have great client skills is very important. As your brand grows these employees will be your greatest support. It is absolutely important that you surround yourself with people who recognize their personal investment in a business.
By doing these things it becomes easier to survive growth. So many small businesses grow quickly, panic, and close. By evaluating and recognizing how to grow your company it can help get through the murky waters of change.