Your business has successfully navigated the first few years of its existence and is beginning to turn a profit. The most hectic days of getting your first sale, launching a successful marketing campaign, and steadying your inventory levels are in the rear-view mirror at this point, but you’re aching for the next big challenge: growth and expansion. What steps should be taken and what considerations need to be made before diving head first into a growth strategy?
Here are a few tips to help you get started on your path to growth.
Write a business plan
Business plans aren’t just for new businesses. Though every aspiring entrepreneur should have a business plan written for his or her new venture, small business owners should revisit their business plan when major changes within the business or external environment take place. Work with a business plan writing company or consultant if you will be seeking external funding or if you feel an objective third-party expert opinion is needed (it often is).
Communicate with staff
Your growth plans should be made clear to all employees. Failing to communicate strategic plans and goals with staff is a common mistake businesses make that creates serious and sometimes insurmountable setbacks. Be straightforward with your new expectations and allow a two-way dialogue to take place between upper-management and staff.
Set challenging but attainable goals
Setting specific growth goals for your business to achieve makes it easier to measure the success of your strategy and provides something that the organization can strive for. Employees are more likely to be motivated and willing to deliver if there are specific growth goals to achieve. But be careful not to set unattainable goals. Doing so will have the opposite effect you want: employee morale will drop as will productivity as a “why bother?” mentality sets in. So be objective and fair when setting goals. A business plan consultant can work with you to select impartial and feasible goals to implement.
Align your new goals with other aspects of the business
Coordination is key when setting new goals and strategies for your business. All areas of the organization should align with the central goal of achieving growth and expansion so be sure to include all departments and functions in your business plan. For instance, you could choose to give extra compensation to salespersons who break into new accounts or new regions. Going back to the earlier point of being communicative with staff, be transparent and informative with employees when rolling out such changes.
Retain your current customer base
In the pursuit of new clients, companies often turn their focus to meeting the needs of potential customers while overlooking the needs of their current customer base. It costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers over retaining existing ones. Thus, if you focus too much on gaining new customers at the expense of your service levels to current ones, you may find yourself with fewer clients and greater costs in the end. Loyalty should be a two-way street, so be sure to continue offering value to your most loyal clients.