Most small businesses owners are concerned with creating growth in their company. Hell, many of them are just trying to keep their doors open in today’s world! But, regardless of the economy or work conditions, creating sustainable business growth cycles in your company boils down to one simple process: planning.

Step 1: Plan to plan.

I often joke about how corporate environments waste a lot of time having meetings to talk about their next meeting. This is true and can lead to projects getting drawn out way too long or never finished, but there is something to be said for the idea of planning.

In small businesses, owners often wear many hats and shoulder an enormous amount of responsibility. This can create a sense of urgency to grow quickly in order to lighten the load. The “ready, fire, aim” mentality may work sometimes, but often it creates many new, unforeseen problems when the project gets underway. Carve out the time on your calendar to plan before you pull the trigger.

Step 2: Clarify your goals.

It’s all fine and good to want to grow your business, but “growth” can mean a number of things. Clarifying exactly what you want to grow is paramount to developing a strategy to create sustainable business growth.

Do you want your brand to reach more potential clients?

Do you want to increase your gross profit?

Does expansion of your staff feel like the right move?

All of these goals are tied to a company’s growth. If you don’t know exactly what you want to accomplish, there is no team member, consultant, or other professional that can help you make it happen.

Step 3: Prioritize and strategize.

Once you have your goals clarified and documented, the next step is to prioritize them so you can create your plan to achieve the most pressing item in the overall sustainable business growth plan.

Finding your top sustainable business growth priority.

The best way to prioritize is to jot down the main action items it will take to achieve each goal.  Then, consider how achieving the goal will effect your business. Let’s take the previous list of growth goals as an example.

Prioritizing your business goals

Brand recognition will often take time and money (lots of it if you serve customers nationwide or your local market is highly competitive). If you’ve got the time but don’t have the ad budget, you may want to move this goal down the list and focus first on increasing sales.

Increasing your sales can be accomplished in a variety of ways. We already know that we don’t have money to advertise so we need to look at other low-cost options. Campaigns that target your current customers are often a quick way to build capital with little investment.

But, what happens when you get all that new business? Do you have the team that can help you serve your customers well, or will you turn those brand ambassadors into negative reviews online? Hmmmm….it looks like building the team might be your top priority.

Do you have the money banked to hire those new employees and the training process to get them up and running quickly? If not, you may want to look at your current processes and systems to see how you can increase the efficiency of the team you currently have.

See? In a fairly short amount of time you were able to identify the goal you need to accomplish first in order to achieve your overall sustainable business growth plan! AND the first goal you need to achieve wasn’t even on your original list! This is why planning and being thoughtful from the beginning is so important.

Developing your growth strategy.

Now that you have prioritized your sustainable growth goals, you can begin creating your strategy. This step is where you will spend the majority of your planning time:

Create your budget and timeline. This step is imperative to actually completing the project. If you don’t take the time to allocate the funds and set your deadline to accomplishing your goal, you will usually fail.

Identify WHO will help you complete the project. This includes all team members and vendors who will help you complete action items. You will also want to find the person who will manage the project – holding the team accountable and keeping the project on time and within budget.

List all action items needed to achieve your goal. Organizing your list of tasks will help you focus on one thing at a time. If this will be a large project, it may be a good idea to identify the milestones and create several mini-projects to help you celebrate completion of each phase. You might also consider using a project management system to help you visualize the project and where there may be blockages

Anticipate the barriers. There will always be issues. Consider the biggest risks you may face during the process and plan how to overcome them.

Make it happen

Now that you have thought through your plan, you can begin to implement the strategy and watch your business grow! (rinse and repeat, as necessary)

ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOALS

If you need help figuring out your next step to achieve sustainable growth in your business, we’re here to help. STABILITY GUIDE is passionate about helping small businesses succeed and we would be thrilled to help you too!