Thursday September 3, 2015
Pretty much every entrepreneur wants to grow their business, but many don’t realize that growth doesn’t necessarily translate to more profit. Many businesses fail because they grew too quickly, without scalable processes and adequate resources. They became overwhelmed.
I’ve been growing businesses since I was a kid. A paging company I started when I was 18 grew to become the number 2 paging reseller in Northern California. In addition, I’ve helped hundreds of small business owners grow their businesses through software tools, as well as marketing and consulting work done by me and my team.
Here’s my advice for thinking and planning ahead of your growth curve, so you’re always ready for the inevitable bumps in the road and unexpected shortages that come along with growing a business.
Create a Clear Vision for Your Business
The first step to a successful growth strategy is to have a clear vision in your head of what you want that growth to look like.
Start by looking ahead to the next year, five years, and ten years. What do you want your business to look like? Do you want to be doing the same thing you are now? Do you want to be spending more or fewer hours in the business? How many employees do you envision having? Are you looking for an exit?
This will give you a sense of what kind of growth you’re looking for: increased market share, development of new markets, or new product development. Any one of these can make you more profitable if it’s the right type of growth for you and your business. At this stage, a business coach can be an invaluable resource to you.
Finally, make sure your vision for your business is in alignment with your personal vision for your life, family, and finances.
Free Up Time, Energy, and Resources
Here’s a hard truth about growth: it takes a lot of time, monetary investment, more employees, and a lot of your own drive and energy to push things through.
If you’re filling every minute of your time, fighting exhaustion, and pinching pennies already, some things need to change before you can grow further. This is called a growth plateau (click here to learn more).
To overcome a growth plateau, automate the tasks that take up a lot of your time, unless they also make you a lot of money. Instead of solving one problem at a time, whack-a-mole style, start thinking in systems and looking for ways to solve multiple problems at once.
Evaluate Your Current Processes
Many of these problems will have to do with the workflows you have in place to run your business. Workflows are really just “how you get things done.” They’re the habits, processes, and procedures you and your employees use to assign, complete, and report on tasks and projects.
To be ready to grow, your processes must be scalable. This simply means that as you get more employees, more customers, and more complexity in your business, your processes continue to work.
So, filling out invoices by hand and mailing them individually isn’t a scalable process. If the number of invoices grows by a substantial amount, you’ll find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of time doing a repetitive task that doesn’t bring in revenue.
A much more scalable workflow: Automated invoices that email out all on their own whenever a new order is made.
Predict Pressure Points
If you know your business’s weak points in advance, and you can predict where new business will put pressure on you, you can form a plan to compensate.
Every business has slightly different strengths and weaknesses. Your business’s pressure points might be related to onboarding new hires, providing timely customer service, administrative work, employee productivity, online presence, or something else entirely.
To find your weaknesses, look back on what kinds of tasks tend to pile up, look for dependencies that never seem to be timed quite right, and look for the causes of past crises.
This kind of big-picture thinking is very important before you start implementing a growth strategy. It can save you a lot of headache, time, and money later on if you have a good idea of where the problems are going to be.
Get Serious about Business Technology
In my experience, the answer to a lot of these problems lies in business technology. Small business owners are still getting used to the idea that there are literally hundreds of thousands of tools out there designed to help them.
I don’t blame you for ignoring the wealth of tools available to help you save time and money.
The fact is, the number of tools out there is overwhelming. The time needed to just do the research and test out new tools is enormous. Many of them are too expensive for a small business to afford, and many are too complicated to quickly and easily learn and teach to a team.
That’s why I’ve devoted my career to making one toolkit for small business owners, which includes all the different tools you need to grow a business. AllProWebTools is an extremely growth-based tool, designed to help you find weak points in your business and to free up your time, energy, and resources.
It’s a tool built on automated processes, easy workflows for you and your employees, and access to insights that let you know where your business is gaining and losing money, time, and productivity.
I wouldn’t build another business without AllProWebTools. Growth is a complicated thing to manage, and unless you’re an expert in business, finance, marketing, web development, management, and sales all at once, it’s ok to admit you need some help from technology. Just make sure to choose the right toolkit.
What’s standing between you and big growth for your business? Let us know in the comments!