What does it mean to “grow your business”?
Is it the same thing as increasing profits, the bottom line? Or does it mean increasing sales, the top line?
It’s important to understand the relationship between these two approaches to business “growth” and how they fit into the evolution of your business.
For example, if you’re approaching the day when you want to sell your business, improving your bottom line via efficiencies and other strategies might be the best way of “growing” your business.
I say this because a concerted effort to increase overall sales in the short term could make you look less profitable to potential buyers and your selling price would be pushed down.
However, if you’re younger and eager to see your piece of the pie grow substantially, you might be totally comfortable living with a dip in profits while you develop new territories and/or new products.
With those points in mind, you’ll be better able to consider the following 13 tips and tactics as you plot out the ideal game plan for the growth of your small business.
Near-term small business growth tips:
- Analyze the performance of your sales team. If they aren’t meeting your expectations, or they are showing signs of ambivalence, shake things up. Bring in new blood working on commission only.
- Write down everything you do and categorize these tasks. Find tasks that you can delegate to others or outsource.
- Re-examine purchasing and see if you can improve the deals you are getting from your vendors.
- Improve your accounts receivable ratio.
- Look at repetitive tasks you and your team perform. Do they all have procedures written for them? See how they can be accomplished more quickly and be sure you have procedures that capture the most productive ways of accomplishing repetitive tasks. Be sure that you allow these procedures to be improved on over time; don’t fall victim to the “We’ve never done it like that here” mentality.
- Audit your small business listings on the Internet. See if there are any places where you should be listed but aren’t. Be sure listings are accurate. Check your Google reviews. Encourage customers to review your business on Google.
- Launch a customer referral program. Reward existing customers for bringing you new business.
- Launch a customer loyalty program.
Medium-term small business growth tips:
- Research your local competitors and similar businesses in other areas. Find out if any owners may be approaching retirement age or there are other reasons they might want to sell. Talk to mutual suppliers to see if any might be in financial trouble.
- Survey your customers and find out what other products or services they need.
- See if there are any of your suppliers that might be ripe for a buyout.
Long-term small business growth tips:
- Talk to city and regional planners to discover the areas that are slated for new development. Should you prepare to expand to any of these areas, or perhaps relocate to a bigger facility?
- Talk to real estate professionals to find neighborhoods in transition. For example, if a low-income area is beginning to be “gentrified,” it often means that young families with children will soon become the prominent demographic. Also, check out aging neighborhoods, they can “turn over” to younger, affluent families.
As you can see, some of these points take a lot of research and thought. Be sure you do enough of the items in the “near-term small-business growth” menu to have the time to dedicate to planning for your future.
That’s a task you should never delegate.