Planning to grow a small business?

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Answered by: Michael, An Expert in the Growing your Business Category
Once the hectic chaos of starting up a small business finally subsides and you get a handle on the day to day operations it's time to enter the growth phase of business. You're not running around all day putting out fires and handling problems that interfere with cash flow and you can finally sit back and think about what you want your business to become.

Growth is critical to the success of every business because there are only two kinds of businesses: businesses that are growing, and those that are dying. While some businesses stagnate and never reach their full potential, stagnated businesses are actually dying businesses because the market continues to change, but they don’t adapt to those changes, so eventually they are wiped out and replaced. Sears is a great example of this. They went form catalog sales to big box stores, but when the internet came along they were slow to adapt, and online shopping has nearly brought them to their financial end.

To successfully grow a small business you always start internally. It starts with you and what you want to achieve. You do not want to let outside influences drive your business.

There are 3 basic steps to growing your business. The first step is goal setting, the next is analyzing the steps needed to achieve those goals, and the final step is communication and training your people how to implement the changes in your business processes.

Managed growth starts with goal setting, figuring out exactly where you want to be and how many sales you need to be there. You need to develop a clear picture of where you want to be and you’re your business will look like financially as well as how the day to day operations will function at that level.

Next you work backwards looking at each step in your business processes and analyzing what it would take to manage that level of sales. This allows you to ensure you can manage your deal flow at the sales level you want to maintain, but more importantly it helps you see leverage points you can use to increase the efficiency of business processes without increasing costs.

While thinking about day to day operations, perhaps you find that to grow your business the way you want to you will need to implement a new customer management system that will expand your capacity and increase the quality of your customer service. Implementing that strategy not only helps you manage the business growth you are trying to achieve but allows you to do it without hiring any new employees, so whether your business grows or not you accomplish more in less time making your business more competitive. That's exactly the sort of leverage point you're looking for to create sustainable growth in your business.

Finally, the hard part, putting the plan into action. Changing business processes is not difficult because everyone has to do things differently than they did before, it is difficult because the people who manage those business processes do not want to change the way they do things. This is where good communication and leadership come into play. You do not want to walk in one day and tell your employee of 15 years they have to do things differently than they did yesterday. You need a plan to communicate the changes that need to be made, why you are making those changes, and train the employees on the new business processes. This takes time, and that is very good because it allows your key people to ease into their new responsibilities.

Communication and training your staff is the most important part of the growth plan for your business because when you get the key players on board with the changes before you implement them, you will have less problems and a much smoother transition to the new processes. People resist change, especially sudden change. Having your team on board before hand is good leadership and good business.

As you can see to grow a small business you start internally. It starts with you and your vision of where you want to take your business. Set your goals, then work backwards looking at each step of your business processes and analyze what achieving your goals looks like at each step and for each person in your organization. Figure out how you can do things better to maximize profitability and efficiency. Then take your goals and your plan to your people. Get them on board with the why and the how of where you are taking your business and train them on the processes they will be responsible for. That is how you get your business to the next level.

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