Growing your SME is exciting. Getting to a point where you have a steady stream of customers is just the first step. Sustaining your ambition to grow comes next. If you find yourself at the point of contemplating new growth, you will need capital to finance your plan.
A well-thought out growth agenda takes consideration, so this week's blog will help you think through your plan and show you the pitfalls to avoid.
1. Do Your Research
Sit yourself down and understand clearly what your SME is capable of doing with current revenue. When you scale up your present business model, by how much do you need to grow your revenue to absorb planned new growth?
Ask yourself honestly, how has your business performed in the past? Will you need to borrow to grow, or have you put enough funds aside to afford to grow your business without credit? Consider consulting your accountant and a business growth expert. You will need to know if there is an adjustment period. For example, absorbing a new system or process may slow down your business before it speeds it up. Draw up a plan with expert help, and where possible make sales projections to result from any anticipated changes.
2. Find Customers
It’s important to ensure that there is a market to absorb your business growth ambition. Without new customers to buy your new products or avail of new services, there is little point in making changes. A market analysis can help you identify new customers or niche market segments. Discover where they live, work, and what interests they have to ensure a market and to better market to prospects. Check them out online on social media and other sites if you can.
3. Seek Feedback
As you implement change get feedback from your customers to learn how to grow your business. By getting to know your customers, you learn what they want. Their feedback can give you vital information about what to change first, or what direction new ambitions should take. Take the time to visit businesses similar to yours. Ask your customers to submit reviews and answer surveys online about potential plans. Don’t be afraid to run a focus group to ask your customers how they might react to planned changes in hypothetical scenarios. Awareness of your customer wants and pain points will be important in any success.
4. Set Goals
With goals, you can focus your ambition. Your goals will need to be logical and aligned with what it is you wish to achieve. Set what industry leaders call SMART goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely. If you do, you will know when you are making progress or when you need to adjust your overall plan.
We recommend that you remain highly organised during a business growth phase. Always ensure your business agreements are in writing with business partners, lenders, and other parties. Have a solicitor go over the finer details if needs be, especially in the advent of intellectual property or expensive machinery purchases. Formal agreements ensure all parties commit to their promises and everyone gets what's agreed.
6. Take Time
As your business grows, on the to-do list will be tasks which will need careful consideration. One such task is recruitment of new hires. Start the process by being clear on what exact positions you will need. Create a job description and list the required skills and qualifications. You might think the job description is to attract candidates, but it also helps you narrow down what you are looking for. When you do post the job and start interviewing, don’t be quick to hire the first person you interview. A bad hiring decision can set you back. Waiting for a good candidate is worth it.
7. Seek Help
It is natural to feel protective of your SME. You’ve worked long and hard to make your business a success. It will be difficult as your business grows to pass on some of the management responsibility. Making changes to grow your business can be very time-consuming. Be careful not to overwork yourself needlessly, or overlook better creative responses to necessary innovations. You have people you can rely on to help you get things done. For example, your employees can do many of the tasks in your business. You can also outsource help for the duration. Give yourself the space to flex your new found ambition to grow in some comfort.
Indeed there is no better way to energise your business than to create a financial space to facilitate your ambition to grow...
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