Published: September 1st, 2015; by Judi Hughes
If you are serious about growing your business you will hit barriers along the way. Through our work with hundreds of business owners we have identified seven growth barriers that are common to all businesses.
You the Owner!
Experience – When you first start your business you can wing it! But as it grow and becomes more complex this doesn’t work anymore. Build on your experience by hanging out with more experienced, successful business owners. Find a mentor. Read everything you can about how businesses became successful.
Knowledge – Don’t be fooled; businesses are complex entities and you are the driver and leader. Identify where your knowledge gaps are and seek out training and information. It could be with financials; selling; leading teams; creating products.
Self-confidence – There will be days when you question yourself. Take a few minutes every day to reflect on the 3 things you accomplished. Keep telling yourself: “What a great job I am doing” Think big!
Information chaos causes great confusion; complete disorder. As you grow the chaos grows exponentially. Good information equals good decisions. Bad information equals bad decisions. Information chaos halts growth.
The Source of all your information is the individual pieces of data that you have in your systems. For the information to be good the source data must be Correct, Current and Consistent.
- Correct means that the data has been checked and verified before it goes into your systems.
- Current means the data is up to date.
- Consistent means that the data is stored in only one place.
You cannot grow your business without the help of other people. This is well understood and yet business owners have the recurring problem of not getting the right people into the right positions at the right time. Or when they do find the people they find the results are less than satisfactory.
You can minimize these problems with some careful preparation. Spend time defining the job that you want done. The definition must include the job responsibility, the authority, the job duties and, most important, your expectations. This is not just for employees. Do this for anyone who does work for you; try it on your accountant!
Growth needs money; in fact growth devours money. It doesn’t matter how good a financial manager you are the growth expenses will always climb before the growth revenue! But where do you find the money? First, determine how much money you need!
Do your annual budget, detailing your monthly revenue expectations and expenses. Convert the budget into a monthly cash flow analysis; you might sell $1,000 in January but not get paid until February. The cash flow will tell you two very important things; how much extra funding you will need each month and what will be the total funding requirements. Now you are ready to talk to your banker, family and friends, private investors or consider funding the growth yourself.
If you don’t sell more stuff your company will not grow. You will need to acquire new customers but the most cost/effective target is your existing client base; we call this harvesting the Diamonds In Your Backyard. Keep your existing customers by providing the products and services they need AND by providing consistent superior customer service.
Superior means that customer service is a core function of your business. You have formalized it, documented it and everyone working in your company knows that customer service is the number one priority. You lead by example; you walk the talk.
Processes are the engines of the business and if they are not documented you will be constantly reinventing the wheel and/or the results will be error prone. If they are not documented how will you delegate?
Documenting the processes should not be a major writing project. Keep it simple. Choose a consistent format; for example:-
- Purpose of the process
- General description
- Sequence of steps
Philip Orsini, entrepreneur and writer, wrote in his book Successful Business Expansion “Companies don’t fail because they grow. They fail because they don’t plan their growth.”
The Strategic Plans are your road map to growth. They contain measurable three year objectives, each of which are broken down into one year strategies and detailed Action Plans. Now you can track your growth on a week-by-week basis, implementing corrective action before a crisis halts your growth. You are proactive!
Your business can be everything you want it to be and more … if you plan for it!
Find out how well you are positioned for business growth by completing your Strategic Focus Scorecard.