Ask any of the thousands of small business entrepreneurs what they want their business to achieve and there is one word you will hear again and again across the board.
It signals health, prosperity and success, and is the logical next step after “survival”, which while of doubtless importance does not sound particularly ambitious or aspirational.
It is easy enough to say, but achieving those growth aims can be another matter, and might lead to some obstacles and challenges you were not expecting. Scaling up your business to the next level requires just as much strategic thinking as that initial launch.
Use existing data to plan ahead
Now that your business has been operating for some time, you are not groping around in the dark like you were with that initial business plan. Spend some time analysing what has gone well and what has not so far.
The key to successful growth is doing more of the things that work well and less of the things that don’t. This doesn’t just apply to product and service delivery, but also to internal processes, marketing strategies, routes to market and so on.
Evaluate the financial options
There is truth in the old aphorism that you have to speculate to accumulate. A growing business is going to mean one with escalating costs, whether it is through ramping up staff, investing in more equipment, moving to larger facilities, increasing marketing spend or, most likely, a combination of all these things and more.
There are all sort of options open to you when it comes to both raising finance and ensuring the business’s cash flow remains healthy even during times of high capital expenditure. The important thing is to have a clear picture in your mind from the outset of the different financial products that are available to you and to have the appropriate funding sources in your back pocket well in advance.
Manage your costs
The above can make it easy to fall into the trap of dismissing spiralling costs as an inevitable consequence of growth. However, the fact that they are escalating means you need to be monitoring and managing them more diligently than ever.
Critically assess where money is being spent and whether you are taking advantage of the best available rates. This is not so different to the practices you might adopt at home, when you shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal on your basic essentials like electricity, phone and insurance, for example.
Some business leaders talk about how lonely it is at the top. However, this is more often based in melodrama than business fact. Yes, as the business owner, the big decisions are ultimately yours to make, but in a growing business, there will be plenty of sounding boards around.
Discuss your business’s growth plans with staff, and that doesn’t have to just mean your immediate generals. Those in the operation who are dealing with it processes and customers day in and day out understand the business better than anyone, so invite their input.
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