How are you going to grow your business? Are you going to fall in the same trap of thousands of other business owners? Do you have a strategy to ensure you are successful?
It is a well-established fact that most successful businesses are successful because they implement the appropriate processes and procedures that enable them to measure and correct the performance where necessary. There are many tools available to the small business owner to help and assist your business become successful, arguably the most common mistake is that the new process or procedure does not add any value or benefit to the customers experience or is poorly executed.
Marketing your business or service to increase both revenue and profit does not need a highly sophisticated approach, but it does need a disciplined and strategic implementation. Unfortunately a lot of business owners ignore the basic steps in their desire to attract new clients and customers. Business growth and the attraction of new clients or customers is one where the majority of business owners have a focus or desire, but it is also one of the most misunderstood.
While there are many approaches and models available to help with business growth all have one thing in common, that is they are heavily reliant on effective implementation. A well developed growth plan will be tailored to your business. A template approach will only produce limited results. Why is this? Haven't you spent a huge amount of time developing your own unique approach to your market? Why would you then want to disregard all that work and engage potential customers the same way the majority of your competitors do? It might sound obvious but it is a very common mistake. Unless you provide a commodity product or service, this is a very flawed approach (as any good marketer will attest !) but I would still argue that even in a market that a product or service is considered a commodity, then your point of differentiation should be your superior service!
So, how do you ensure that your growth plan will succeed? Before determining market opportunities you have to be very certain in your own mind your area or areas of competitive advantage and your product or service specialization. The mechanics of marketing are well covered in other editorials within this Newsletter so I will concentrate on the integration of a successful plan and what it means to your business.
Ask yourself, business growth what does it mean to me? Is it just one of those areas that you let look after itself or do you ignore it altogether? Either way if you do not address this important area of your business at the very least you are missing an opportunity and at the worst you are setting yourself up to fail. A business can never stand still otherwise it will end up slipping backwards which is the first step toward oblivion. You need to develop a vision for your business. This vision should focus on adding value to the customer's experience.
As part of your strategy to achieve growth you should address some basic issues, What is your typical customer demographic and market sector? Do you have a unique selling proposition? What do you want to achieve? How do I compare to my main competition?
While the answer to those questions may seem simple enough make sure you are thorough in your approach and analysis and ask your existing customers what it is they like about you, after all it is the foundation of your total business.
The key to the successful implementation of your growth plan, as is any significant area of your business, is simple - make sure it is an integrated approach.
I know I have discussed this before but in any major change in your business it is critical that any change is be measurable. You may have your own approach in setting and measuring objectives, but I always follow the approach I have listed below.
Your Objectives should always be S.M.A.R.T.
- Specific - for example, you might set an objective of getting ten new customers.
- Measurable - whatever your objective is, you need to be able to check whether you have reached it or not when you review your plan.
- Achievable - you must have the resources you need to achieve the objective. The key resources are usually people and money.
- Realistic - targets should stretch you, not demotivate you because they are unreasonable and seem to be out of reach.
- Time-bound - you should set a deadline for achieving the objective. For example, you might aim to get ten new customers within the next 12 months.
I recommend you become familiar with this approach and make it an integral part of your business philosophy, unless you have a structured approach to your business you will "be flying blind". In fact the time you spend planning your business needs and strategies is just as important if not more so than the execution of your plan.
To ensure your marketing plan has the most optimum chance of success you will need to make sure:
(i) You have communicated the objectives of your plan and the total team is committed to its success.
(ii) You have reviewed your resources to make sure you can "walk the talk" don't make promises that you cannot keep, make sure you have enough stock or capacity to supply your advertised offer.
(iii) You have completed a quick review of your existing supply chain both internally and externally, making sure there are no "bottlenecks" in your business. It is not effective if you increase your sales force to support the increase in enquiries and then ignore your reception as they cannot service the increased call rate or your warehouse cannot deliver as they are overloaded.
(iv) Make sure you set a budget make to ensure the increased sales are actually profitable, calculate your breakeven point, know what your financial requirements are. Make sure you have something in place to measure your costing and financial performance. Don't just grow your business blindly, after all you are looking for an increase in revenue and profit.
(v) Is your business on line or are you a traditional bricks and mortar business? Both require a different approach, even more importantly if your major competition is on line and you are not, develop your approach to ensure that your offer is going to provide an advantage to attract and retain your customer. Make sure your customer service levels and delivery cycles are competitive.
(vi) Assess the existing business climate, is the timing right for business growth? Or is it a better strategy to drive improvement and increase market share and revenue by reviewing your existing approach to increase profit levels and position your business for growth in a much more cost effective way?