What does it take to take your business from merely surviving to thriving? Hard work and a solid growth plan can help, writes this business owner.
When it comes to running a business, survival is important. But if you want to see real success, you may have to take your business one step further. You have to grow and thrive.
I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs over the years, and I’ve picked up quite a few lessons on how great entrepreneurs put their business on the fast track for growth and development.
1. Know why you want to grow.
I’m always surprised when I talk to business owners looking to realize exponential growth, and I discover they don’t actually know why they want to grow. When I ask them, I get answers like “I want to have a big business,” “I want to be successful,” or “I want to make more money.”
Now those aren’t bad goals per se, but when I ask them why they want those things, they’re puzzled. I ask if they want to be a community leader or if they want financial security for their families, and then they start to open up. Why does this matter? Because the specific methods you use to achieve your definition of success can be determined by your motivation. It can be easier to model the growth of your business if you understand your underlying motivation.
2. Skip social media.
One mistake I see over and over is a growth-oriented company that blindly follows one-size-fits-all marketing advice. Spending hours of time creating clever tweets might not yield any results if you’re marketing to grandparents. Likewise, you may be missing out on the 25 and under set if you’re just Facebook focused.
When you specialize in serving a particular community’s needs, word tends to get around. You may have new clients who will seek you out because you’re considered an expert.
Sometimes your best bet isn’t social media at all. Finding out where your customers are and where they get their information can help inform what methods you can use to effectively reach them. An awesome billboard in the city may not do you any good if your customers live and work in the suburbs. Social media can be the same way. Consider marketing where your customers spend time.
3. Find your niche.
If you’ve read any of my articles or books, you know what’s coming next…the riches are in the niches!
Consider finding a way to specialize and tailor your offering to fulfill the unique needs of a smaller group of customers. Yes, you’re narrowing your focus, but you may be able to command much higher rates as a specialist than as a generalist. So if you’re a little anxious about going to court over a speeding ticket, you might hire a relatively inexpensive attorney just in case you need her. But if you’re accused (falsely, of course!) of murder, you might go as far as to mortgage your house to afford an attorney who specializes in murder defense. We pay more for specialists because they’re worth it. And an added bonus: When you specialize in serving a particular community’s needs, word tends to get around. You may have new clients who will seek you out because you’re considered an expert.
4. Offer a sound investment to potential investors.
Now, a lot of folks who’ve read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur or Profit First probably think I’m against raising money by soliciting angel investors or venture capitalists, and in many cases, I am. When you’re desperate for money because your business is in lousy shape, you may not be viewed as a sound investment. But if you’ve worked through your process, implemented systems and are turning a profit, then finding investors can help you implement changes that will allow you to move to the next level.
If you can leverage your historical success, you may be in a better position to go out and raise money from investors. If you’re turning a profit, but you’ve maxed out your production at your existing offices, looking for an investor may make more sense (i.e. when you have the formula, but you’re looking for a way to ramp up production).
Creating sustainable growth requires hard work, planning and a sound strategy. Understanding what you want to achieve (and why), marketing yourself effectively, specializing in a niche market and soliciting sensible investment may all help you get out of the slow lane and help accelerate your company’s growth.
Author: Mike Michalowicz|| Profit First