It goes without saying, there hasn’t been any large business that didn’t start with a plan. Businesses and people with a plan achieve 10 times more than those without. Your business plan should match the purpose for its use. For example, if your plan is to seek investors or funding from a bank, it will require much more detail than if you want a plan for internal purposes. For internal planning and starting “lean”, then a business model canvas is a great tool for providing direction without getting bogged down in the details.
When starting a business, as an entrepreneur there are long nights and many hats to wear. However, if your business is to grow, you will need to get help in wearing some of the hats. As your business grows, it will need your undivided attention to the important things of planning and management.
If you’re going to delegate tasks, you’ll need to be able to train or pass on the processes for doing the task(s) clearly and correctly. To do that, you need to document how things are done. The more detailed the documentation, the easier it will be to match the right person to the job at hand. Lastly, systems take the guesswork out of success to make your business more predictable.
Another way to free up your time to run your business is to use technology that will automate repetitive aspects of your business. Bookkeeping software can automate payroll and invoicing, e-mail tools help automate information dissemination and marketing, and Customer Relationship Management systems help you stay organized. Most tools will have auto-generated reporting to help you know where your business stands and how engaged your customers are.
Market and Advertise
There are almost 1.1 million SMEs in Canada. More than half (55%) have fewer than 4 employees. So, if you’re like me and among the 55% of SMEs, you’ll need to find customers to keep your business growing. You will also need to bring new ideas and products to the market to keep your competitive edge. Marketing and advertising are essential to keeping your customers and potential customers connected to your brand and top of mind for when they need something that you offer.
In order for a business to succeed, you need to plan for and manage its resources and its finances. Cashflow is the life-blood of a company, and if it is anemic, the business withers up and dies; or worse it limps along in perpetuity for years frustrating the owner and never reaching its potential.
Never get too busy in your business, and with clients to monitor its performance. You need to spend time looking at and thinking about the current business climate and the possible future state conditions that you may need to adjust to. Regularly look at the data that your company produces to make decisions. Take actions that lead to sustained growth.
Early on in my business, I developed the habit of reading at least one book each month. I continue to read whatever I can to further my knowledge and business growth. One book I read, “Swim with Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” by Harvey Mackay, lists 66 questions you should know about your customer. The reason you want to know or learn about your customers is so you can be of the best help to them. I wrote this post because I learned that many of my clients struggle to grow their businesses.
Use a CRM
You could keep all of your customers and lead data in your head, or in a filing cabinet, but a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows you to access the information quickly and analyze it to gain insights. Insights allow you to better serve your customers and follow-up with leads. With a CRM system, you can scale your business consistently.
No matter how much marketing and advertising you do to acquire a customer, it will all be a waste if you don’t deliver on your promises. With that statement comes this warning; do not over-promise. Over-deliver.
My goal each day is to do a better job of delivering value on each and every customer promise.