Whether your business is
relatively new and in its "start-up" stage, in its "building stage" or in its
"established with steady revenues" stage, you know that if you wish to enjoy
long-term success, you must consistently seek methods to help you to propel
your business to greater heights. More importantly, you not only need to learn
new ways to grow your business, but to take action on these ideas--hit the thrust
button, and propel your business forward.
Sounds exciting, doesn't
it? And it would be great if, just after you've hit that thrust button, you
could see immediate results? But lest you have unrealistic expectations, that's
just not the norm. Business growth takes time.
What many entrepreneurs
need to do is to "slow down in order to speed up" - taking a long hard look
at the current status of your business; determine where you want to be, and
know when and how to take action for further growth and development. Here is
where it helps to have the innate ability to look at your business from the
"eye of an outsider" - to detach yourself emotionally and view the business
as if you were a consultant who has been brought in to help define specific
areas for improvement for where your business is at the time, and make a plan
to help expand it to higher performance and profitability.
Here are some key things
to ask yourself when you are ready to make the push to move forward:
- Where are there opportunities
to expand our services? What more can I offer? Could I provide an additional
service? Can I produce a more specialized product? How will I accomplish it?
- Do we have a marketing
system that operates like a "well-oiled machine" on a consistent basis?
Do I know my customer base and have I fully tapped into that market? Are we
calling on every potential piece of business out there? Are we using the Web
to learn what other markets we may tap?
- Do we need a new
approach to our sales efforts? Are our marketing materials Web Site working?
Are there different media we haven't tried? Are we getting referrals?
- What have we done
to differentiate ourselves and our business from the competition? Do my
customers know why we are different from the competition? How would your customers
answer, "What's different about (your company) is...?"
- Am we consistently
working to improve our products or services? Are we solicit feedback from
customers to discover what they want and need from us? Do we have a high level
of Employee Involvement and do they regularly contribute their ideas?
- What do we need to
do now to reach greater heights? What skills do our people need? What
will give us the best chance for quick results?
- Do we provide quality
service to our customers? How quickly do we respond to customer inquiries
or requests? Is it easy to do business with my company?
- What is the reputation
we have? Do we operate with integrity? Are we "Upfront and Honest" from
Day One?" Do we "Under promise and Over deliver?" Do we have fair pricing?
Do we ship on time?
Here then, are ideas
to help propel your business to greater heights:
Expand your services.
Are there other products
or services you can offer that compliment yours? For example, if you own a
placement agency, can you offer training for companies on how to hire and
retain quality employees? If you own a garden shop, can you offer classes
on gardening? If you are a machine-tool distributor, can you offer financing
Get your marketing system
to operate like a well-oiled machine.
Any business owner who
thinks that marketing is simply having a great brochure and Web site and handling
inquiries is probably missing many opportunities.
You know the importance
of target marketing. You may need to find the specialized markets for services
you offer and create multiple versions of your marketing materials designed
to attract customers in those markets. Customers will feel your service has
more value to them if it addresses their unique concerns.
Publishing articles in
your industry publications or a newsletter of a prospective customer can help
in your marketing efforts. For instance, if your expertise is in construction
equipment, you can write an article on "what to look for when purchasing heavy
Competition is a fact
of life, and you should welcome it as an opportunity to keep your own skills
sharp and your sales team's skills competitive.
You need to get the customer's
attention so that you will stand out amongst other competitors. Take the time
to check out the competition too!
Consistently strive to
be a better company than you are.
We've talked a lot about
marketing and expanding services, but let's not forget why you were "asked
to the dance" to begin with. Consistently work toward getting better. You
must have an obsession for turning in the best product, and the best performance
- with every customer, on every order, every day.
Determine what additional
skills you need.
Determine where you need
work, and take advantage of industry seminars or other skill-building opportunities
to help with those skills.
Provide outstanding service
to your clients and to bureaus that represent you.
Your clients as well as
the bureaus that support your business need you to follow up on a timely basis,
with a dependable and sincere desire to help. You need to be willing to work
hard for them, help them in any way you can, and keep them informed so they
don't have to worry about your presentation or details.
Develop solid business
relationships with clients, bureaus, and colleagues and establish a good reputation.
Your customer is buying
your reputation and your good name. They are buying your credibility, and
other people's opinions of you and your business. You must have integrity
in business and be professional at all times.
Relationships, like business
growth, take time. In fact, in the speaking business, business growth is all
about relationships. Spend time each day on developing and strengthening those
mutually beneficial relationships that will breed success. Drop a quick note
to a client and include a clipping of the latest business article you've read.
Follow up at regular intervals to see how the customer has progressed since
your program and help troubleshoot any problem areas.
You started your business
because you enjoy being an entrepreneur. If you are to grow, however, you need
to take the time to analyze your own business and look for opportunities to
expand your marketing, your services, and your skills-your value.
It takes a bit of work.
Looking at these areas may be a bit out of your "comfort zone"-after all, your
expertise may be in designing, or equipment, or landscaping-but if you make
the effort to develop your business, you'll find that the results will be very
rewarding not just for you, but your customers as well.