Take Your Business To The Next Level | #TomFerryShow Episode 105
How to Take Your Business to the Next Level
Is your business stuck in a rut? Doing what you've always done just doesn't cut it anymore. Just look at former movie rental giant Blockbuster. Despite being well known and dominating the movie rental market for years, the company failed to effectively adapt to changes in the market and is now defunct. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your business evolves with the changing times.
Planning your Growth Strategy
Monitor and assess the prevailing economic conditions.What does the general market look like? Is this an opportune time to increase growth, or should you wait to the next quarter or even the next year?
Conduct research on your specific market.Market research can help you better understand your customers and their wants, identify growth opportunities, monitor the competition, and mitigate risk.
- Do both primary and secondary research. Primary research is original information gathered through your own efforts regarding specific questions or concerns related specifically to your business. Secondary research is less targeted but instead uses resources like company records, research studies, government data, and other materials to address larger issues that impractical to address through primary research (such as evaluating macro-economic conditions).
- Surveys are the most common ways to gather primary research on your customers and their preferences.Thanks to websites like SurveyMonkey, drawing up an online survey for your customers to complete on their own is easy and cost-effective.
- For secondary research, save time by using the many resources available to you, like official government censuses and labour and employment data, most of which are available online.
Consider your long-term goals and visions for the company.You need to know where your business is going in order to move up the scale.
- Spend time thinking about what makes your business proposition different from all of the rest. What value do you add to the market? Better yet, know what your competitors are doing and offering.
- Don't compromise on what you offer; too many business ventures forget where they started and what helped them achieve their current status.
- Make sure your business is really ready to move to the next level. Avoid "running before you can walk."
- Assess where the growth will come from - new customers, new sectors or new markets. Most successful entrepreneurs would recommend focusing on one of these areas at a time. That way, you will stay focused and be able to invest all of your resources into promoting that project.
Ask yourself some tough questions.You need to be realistic. In addition to understanding areas where your business does well, you also need to identify areas that need improvement. Doing this involves asking some difficult questions and may require that you check your ego.
- Determine whether there is enough demand for your product/service to sustain growth? Are there areas of inefficiency? Sometimes certain inefficiencies are minor in the early stages of a business, but if you are serious about going to the next level, these issues have to be addressed.
- Sometimes the secret key to scaling up can be scaling down, making sure you do things as well and as efficiently as possible. For example, if you have a business with multiple locations, make sure there is consistency across the locations. If you find one location is not meeting its target for any of a variety of reasons (location, staff, product availability and consistency, etc.), you may consider shifting your resources to bolster that problem spot or close it down, and refocus your energy on the locations that are working effectively and efficiently.
Identify priorities.Time is precious so don't squander the time you have.
- Identify the most critical projects. These are the projects on whose results the success of your venture truly depends. These should become your chief priorities.
- Work on your business, not in it.As the visionary and strategist, you will need to take a step back from the day-to-day operations. Cut back on the time that you allow non-priority issues to take from these essential projects. Sometimes saying "no" is the right thing to do; the more time you spend on nonessential tasks or ventures pushes back progress on the things that matter.
- Schedule time to plan. Jeff Silbert, director and founder of the Order of Magnitude Group, recommends designating a half-day per work week for planning and strategizing. Scheduling in this time commits you to it.
Investigate different financial supports.There are lots of options if you think you need extra finance for your growth strategy.
- Options to consider include specialized government grants, bank loans, crowd funding, angel investment, invoice financing, and community funds.
- Check out the U.S. Small Business Administration, which has useful information about loans, grants, and other funding opportunities.
Assess whether you need alternative expertise.Do you have people with the right experience and knowledge to help you successfully put your growth strategy into action? If not, bring them on board immediately.
- Anyone you bring into the business, especially at a senior level, should be capable of bringing the business to new heights. You'll want to look at a potential candidate's experience and success rate when hiring.
- Build an advisory board. Advisers are useful not only because they are experienced in the workings of business but also because they have contacts with companies, vendors, and other professionals in the industry. They are also appealing to investors because they make a project look sound and legitimate.
Rearrange your team.We have all heard that teamwork matters, but are you making the most of your team? A team should be more than the sum of its individual members: more creative, more efficient, and more productive.
- Most teams are made up of a diverse group of people with different skills. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of individual members when trying to construct a well-assembled team. Do some members' strengths compensate for other members' weaknesses? Try to make sure individual strengths are highlighted in productive manners. If you have a group of people who are too similar in their capabilities, move some of them around to better harness their particular skills.
- Get new hires to handle the day-to-day tasks, so that you and your team can focus on the growth plan. Delegating is not easy, but moving away from the daily grind will help you stay focused.
Cultivate creativity.Business that fail to innovate or respond to market changes run the risk of becoming obsolete. To avoid this from happening to your business, support creativity in your venture.
- Reach out to others for inspiration. Talk to people in your network, other founders and CEOs, and any other people who have had marked success in their enterprises.
- Take in information and new perspectives. Read books such asMastering the Rockefeller Habitsby Verne Harnish orStart with Whyby Simon Sinek.Listen to TED talks about leadership and innovation.
- Bring in employees from diverse backgrounds, with diverse ideas on how to grow, evolve, and reach the next level. Try holding brainstorming or round table sessions with your employees where they can speak freely. Prove to them that their ideas are welcome and valued.
- Keep up-to-date on trends in your field/market and about what's going on in the larger global sphere. Stay especially attune to new technological developments.
Get out of your comfort zone.If you were happy with thestatus quoof your business, you wouldn't be looking to evolve. Growth requires trying something new and different.
- Don't be persuaded by objections like “But this isn’t how we do things” or “No one else does it this way.” Do what you feel is necessary, be aware of what you are willing to lose, and go for it.
Put new ideas into action.Once you have a clear vision, you can begin to take the steps needed to get you where you want to be. These steps may be month by month, quarter by quarter, or year by year.
- For example, if you've decided that you will need a new management team in place within two years, that goal is going to affect how you recruit, interview, hire, and compensate your staff. This is substantially different than if you just wanted to hire an IT person to fix computers.
- Tell clients, employees, and vendors about your plan. Transparency is a quality greatly admired in the business world. In addition, maybe after hearing your vision, people will want to be a part of it!
Reevaluating the Growth Strategy
Measure progress.Routinely assess how your growth plan is proceeding. Conduct surveys on what is working and what is not working. Statistics are very helpful here.
- Evaluate the success of media advertising or promotions, pricing strategies and sales, or whatever other tactics and strategies you and your team developed.
- Surveys and data collection are efficient mechanisms for getting the hard numbers.
- Account for discrepancies. Figure out what isn't working and why. Consider factors like location, effective advertising, displays, staffing, and special events.
Know when to call it quits.If you find the growth strategy isn't going as well as you'd hoped, stop before you lose too much.
- Know what your "acceptable loss" is and keep committed to that. Acceptable loss is a concept where you determine the possible downside of your business venture and then invest only that which you can afford to and are willing to lose in case the venture doesn't work out.
- There are always other future opportunities for growth, but you don't want to sacrifice all your capital and effort on something that just doesn't work. Step back, reevaluate, and forge ahead, taking what you've learned to your next initiative.
Know when to push ahead.If your growth strategy is successful, consider your next steps. Do you want further growth and expansion? If so, start this whole process over again. Remember that adaptability and innovation are the true keys to successful businesses.
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