It’s not always easy to grow a business in the early days. Having a clear purpose and set of goals helps to create a well-defined business plan to guide the business direction, a detailed cash flow forecast and robust financial plan are a definite must. But what else can you do to guarantee success in a fledgling business?
With personal experience of scaling up businesses, I want to share my 5 priorities to ensure successful growth.
1. Shout about why you are unique
You know you have a great business, but do your potential customers? Challenge yourself to truly find your edge and be proud to shout about what makes you stand out, from others in the same space.
Sharing why your business is unique in solving a problem for potential customers, will define your marketing activity and make people stop, pay attention and recognise the value in what you offer. This will be critical for holding your own in the market and will bring focus to shaping the longer term business plan for growth.
TIP: Create an engaging 30 second video pitch about your business, share it with your network and ask for feedback.
2. Get out of the building
You may be super confident about your business potential but there is huge value in actively encouraging constructive feedback and objections, whether that’s in person or online.
Getting out and sharing details of your product and plans across a wide and varied pool of people can be daunting, but in my experience people are always willing to have a chat and share their knowledge. External input will be invaluable to challenge any embedded assumptions and validate your proposition.
Tip: Use these conversations to:
- Test assumptions about product features / market potential / customer profiles / revenue models etc.
- Gain further inspiration and ideas for alternative approaches to your plans.
- Seek out people from different backgrounds and learn from their experiences across a range of business topics.
- Form a wider network of trusted advisors, to plug any domain knowledge gaps you may have.
3. Know your unknowns
Knowing your unknowns and having a plan to solve them, is as important as marching on with your plan. I recommend taking time out of the business each week to update a list of unknowns and “what if“ scenarios, which need your focus.
This is a great way to focus your time on what is truly important to make a material difference to your success. Ranking by priority and setting deadlines, will help to shape your efforts and flag the need for additional support/resources.
Tip: Use the list as a record to check back against, you will be surprised what you have achieved but also not miss any important unknowns.
4. Cash is King
The need to know your numbers is drummed into us all as business owners and quite rightly, understanding a Cashflow Forecast / Profit & Loss / Balance sheet and setting out measurable KPI’s, should all be part of the monthly routine. For me being on top of your cash position is the most important including:
Tip: Be accountable yourself, don’t just leave it to the accountant to be all over your numbers:
- Set monthly income and sales targets which account for seasonality rather than on a straight line basis.
- Minimise upfront cost of sale, through negotiation with suppliers
- Set out payment plans for customers not paying upfront, to ensure a steady flow of cash coming in.
- Liquidity is key to fuel growth, so whether that’s cash reserves to be reinvested, investment funding, access to grants or a bank overdraft facility, having the flexibility to access cash when an opportunity to grow emerges, needs to be in place.
- Don’t get carried away with vanity overheads not critical to running the business, until you are making consistent revenue levels and have an ongoing underlying positive cash position. Do you really need to have the latest technology or pay to upgrade SAAS subscriptions when you’ll only use 20% of their functions?
5. Create your crowd
A great measure of success is the ability to create traction in the market, from gaining the first paying customer to growing beyond friends of a friend of the family or receiving sales from referrals, it is all about creating your own crowd of people with awareness and engagement with the company.
Social Media is a great place to grow your audience quickly if you have a clear action plan. The aim being to reach beyond friends and family, into independent paying customers. You can cheat and buy likes or followers, but unless you have strong engagement levels you are never going to improve your conversion into sales.
Tip: Define the characteristics of your priority audience and focus on connecting with them through:
- Joining Facebook/Linkedin groups and post relevant interesting content regularly or engage in discussions. Once established in the group you can offer free trials or launch a competition to win a sample product. All aimed at converting members into customers and brand advocates.
- Engaging with influencers by mentioning them in your posts. Inviting them to test and review your products online can extend your reach into their network.
- Paid advertising if you have a clear and tested audience profile. I’d suggest using this with caution if you are not an expert, as without investing in an agency or specialist to manage your account, it is easy to burn money on PPC or Social Media Ad’s, unless you have a clear campaign strategy and analytics set up to track the effectiveness from the start.
I hope these 5 tips have been useful and help to bring success to your business. If you are looking to grow the performance of your business, I would welcome the opportunity to share my ideas and experiences with you and your team.
Please do give me a call on 07713064198 or Email me on Nicky@nickymacconsulting.co.uk