Every business owner wants to see their business grow beyond its current position and it doesn’t matter if you’re thinking of starting a business, have been in operation for less than five years, or you have an established business.
But growing a business is not easy, if it was then 80% of business start ups would not go out of business each year, and the remaining 50% would survive beyond five years. So what can you do to grow your business? This special report looks at five key areas you need to focus on to ensure your business grows along with specific action points.
Principle # 1 having a clear vision
Many times when I ask business owners (and particularly new business owners) what they want to achieve with – where do they want to take – their business in the next 5 years, along with asking them what profit margins do they want to achieve and What markets do they want to get into?, they are unable to tell me the answer.
When you come to plan business growth, or even start a new business, one important question needs to be asked? Why do you want to grow your business (and please don’t just say ‘to make more money.’) What is it you want to get from it? What is your outcome? What do you want to achieve from it?
An architect doesn’t say to a builder « Place some bricks over there. Build a wall so high here. Maybe a window this big there » They begin with the end in mind. The architect knows what size the building needs to be, what supports, joists, levels of foundations are needed. They know what materials are needed to get the job done, and how much it will cost and how long it will take. They have clarity as to what they want to achieve. It’s the same in business.
The clearer you are about what it is you want to achieve with your business, when you want to achieve it and what you are going to do to achieve it, the easier it will be to achieve and the quicker you will able to achieve it.
Why not try the following experiment to understand this principle.
Make sure you are in a room with lots of space and stand in the middle of the room away from anything you can bump into. Pick a point on the wall in front of you. This point is going to represent your business’s future. Then you will need to close your eyes and spin around five times. Finally without opening your eyes point to the spot on the wall that was depicting your business’s future. When you think you are pointing to it, open your eyes and see how you did.
How did you do? Did you point to your businesses future?
OK I know it’s a silly game but you would have got the principle behind it. So many business owners spend their time moving around with ‘their eyes shut’ thinking they know where their business’s future is when unfortunately they don’t know at all, far from it.
Before moving on to the next principles please take a few moments to write down in a note pad or on a piece of paper that you can keep safe, the following question. ‘Where do I want this business to be in 5 years time?’ Then write out your answer making it as clear and concise as possible, because this is going to be the starting point for you to build your business the way you truly want.
Principle # 2 moving from point A to point B
In principle one I talked about the importance of knowing where you want to end up. In this principle I want to talk about how to get there.
If I were to ask you what is the shortest and most direct route from point A to point B? You would more than likely answer; ‘a straight line!’ After all everyone knows that from learning geometry in school. Yet so many business owners I come across who want to grow their business go in every direction but the most obvious and simplest one, a straight line.
A great example of this is a new business owner I met once who told me that he was going to set up a graphic design company helping new businesses to create their branding. Great I thought he knows exactly where he is going. The problem was he started getting involved in so many other things too. He began providing web design, organising printing jobs, and then adding photography as well. In fact he started doing everything but graphic design. He was like the motorist who wanted to go from London to Leeds (obvious route straight up the M1) but went via Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester first.
If you are going to be a Graphic Designer, be a Graphic Designer. Be a good one then maybe once you have reached your destination add extra things then, not the other way round.
If you decide that to grow your business you need to do a specific task, think about what is the easiest and shortest, most direct way of doing it. Then stick to it, don’t deviate, divert, get distracted or add other things.
Another thing I commonly see with business owners (especially new business owners) is the urge to not take the simple route. It probably is great to come up with a completely new way of doing something, but to be honest by the time you have created a new fuel injected, glittery, all singing all dancing way of doing it, you could have done the simple thing and taken the most direct route.
Take your note book or piece of paper that you wrote your five year vision on and now underneath that write out how you are going to get there. This is going to take you some time but it is important to ensure that before you start on your journey you know where you are going. Remember the straighter and more direct the route, the better.
Principle # 3 focus your attention
Have you had the same experience as me when it comes to the day before you go away on holiday? You’re at work and you have stacks of jobs still outstanding on your desk. It can be filing, invoices to send out, accounts to pay, it doesn’t matter what the jobs are that still need doing; the point is you actually get them all done! Why is that? They have been sat there for ages then suddenly the day before you go away on holiday you get them all completed. That’s amazing isn’t it? No! That is what is known as focused attention?
One of the main reasons why businesses fail to grow, and in particular new businesses fail to survive, is because the business owner will do everything else but focus their attention on their business.
I had a client who recently called me in a panic. They are an Estate agent and their sales had suddenly begun to dry up. They weren’t selling their properties like they used to. When I sat down with them it came apparent why their sales had dried up when I asked them the question, ‘Talk me through a typical day’
They told me about all the paperwork they had to do, the filing that needed doing, the advertising that had to be sorted out and so on and so on. Not once did they mention the viewings they need to arrange or the actual selling of property they needed to do. Why not? Because their attention was focused on everything else but the actual thing they were there for; selling houses. As soon as they redirected their focus, sales began to rise.
New business owners do this all the time. They spend time sorting out their new office, getting the furniture all straight and correct. They focus on getting their letter head right and their paper work systems in order. They focus on anything and everything except the most important thing to insure their survival… getting customers!
Why is Tiger Woods so successful at golf? Quite simply, he focuses his attention on being the best. He doesn’t worry about or waste time designing golf courses. He isn’t putting all his attention into opening golf academies. When he is not hitting a ball 400 yards he is practising hitting it 400 yards. When he is not winning tournaments with great short game play, he is practising his short game play so he does win tournaments that way. It is because of his focused attention that he has been #1 in the golf rankings for such a long time now, winning more tournaments than any current player and the reason why he was the #1 highest paid sports star in 2006, earning a massive $100 million.
Now that you have written down where you want to be in five years time and then followed it up by planning the most direct route to get there, I want you to write down the key areas you believe you need to focus on to ensure you get there in five years or less. What areas do you need to really focus your attention? What will need the most attention? Once you have written them down, keep referring to them to ensure you are not deviating from them and getting off track.
Principle # 4 who do you do business with?
This may seem like an obvious question to you, but you would be surprised to discover that many businesses that fail to grow do so because they have forgotten who they do business with.
I knew of a very successful business that went from start up to one of the fastest growing and most successful businesses in the whole of the UK, all within 2 years. Within 4 years it went into administration.
The main reason why the company went into administration was a simply one. It grew so fast in the first place because they had a unique service that none of their competition provided. What’s more there was a need for it, but only in a particular market place. The company wanted to expand by moving into market areas where they were unknown. The problem was the company had lost sight of what made them successful in the first place and stopped focusing on the service that gave them that success. They tried to be a player in a market place unfamiliar to them. The company had a number of outlets located in different towns across the region and before long the previously successful outlets had to increase their performance to support the new ones who were not doing so well. Eventually because these new outlets were not being successful, the existing ones could no longer support them, and the company had to call in the administrators.
It costs 6 times more to generate new clients than it does to service and keep selling to the ones you already have. So let me ask you – Who are your clients? Who is providing you with your revenue? If you don’t know exactly, you need to find out because not only is it more cost effective but 80% of your revenue will come from around 20% of your customers, those that have bought from you in the past. So as long as you have provided them with a good service in the past they will buy from you again. If you are bringing out a new product or service, tell them about it, get them to buy it from you. Don’t make the mistake of looking for new clients when you have them already at your door step.
In your book / on your piece of paper write out a list of your top 20 – 50 customers. The ones you deal with the most and who buy from you the most. Once you know who they are then you can focus your attention on having them buy from you again and again.
Principle # 5 who can help you?
The most successful businesses and those business owners, who know how to build a successful business, know the power of leverage.
There are three main sources we use in business:
Each one of these sources if we use them personally, are a drain on both our business and ourselves. Think about it for a moment. Business’s that fail to grow do so because they are wasting either time, money, or energy and in the worst case, all three. If you are a one man operation are you wasting time and energy doing the filing, accounts, invoices, bills, orders etc? If you employ staff are they wasting time and energy by focusing on things that are not important, or to put it as principle # 3 says, not focusing their attention. Is the job or task you are currently doing really important? Can it be done later or if you really tap into leverage, can someone else be doing it? Can you be using someone else’s time, money or energy?
In you note book / on your piece of paper Write out all the tasks you currently do daily in you business and ask the following questions about each task.
o Is it going to eventually save me time or am I wasting time?
o Will I be making money doing this task or wasting money?
o Can only I do this task or can I pass it on to someone else?
For your business to really truly grow you need to learn to tap into OPT, OPM and OPE:
Other Peoples Time,
Other Peoples Money
Other Peoples Energy.
Those who do this successfully are seeing not only their business grow, and their profits increase, but as a result they have more time, more money and more energy to do the things they really want, be it in business or in their private life.