Why You Need to Plan Your Business Growth
Business growth is essential to turning a startup into a long-term venture. With changing economic situations, personal goals, and unexpected twists and turns, you need to plan your business growth.
Brad Krauskopf has been running his businesses for the past 20 years, and his most recent focus has been founding Hub Australia in 2011 and ensuring its growth.
With Brad as CEO, Hub Australia has grown and developed, using learnings from each new coworking space to improve processes and scale.
Hub Australia becomes one of the largest Australian-owned coworking providers, with over 3,500 members at its 7 locations.
Documenting processes, working out the pathway to each level of scaling, and creating the right business culture are essential resources for you to feel confident in your plan for business growth.
Scaling your team:
Startups and small business owners often fall into the trap of taking on workloads themselves instead of employing new people.
This can be due to costs, time to recruit and train, and the perception that ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself.
If a business wants to become self-sufficient, it’s essential to build an effective team to execute work and ensure everything is running as it should.
When hiring a new team, it’s essential to focus on people power and processes and resources – hiring specialists is often more effective than potentially mismanaging things internally.
Accounting and legal must-haves:
If you’re looking to scale your business by bringing in investors, it’s essential to start talking to advisors in the startup phase.
Without advice and planning, you can potentially lock yourself out of government grants, be forced to pay penalties, or leave yourself open to legal issues as money becomes a focus.
A common mistake by founders is not having a formal agreement in place before incorporation. It’s essential to cover equity structure, roles, milestones, and exit options from the beginning.
Growing too quickly:
Companies often aim to be globally competitive or scale quickly, but the reality of entering new markets can be long and expensive.
Before expanding internationally, you need a thorough knowledge of laws and regulations, as well as proven impact, to know your product will ‘have legs’ in a new market and space.
Growing faster than you’re prepared for puts you at risk of being stretched financially and resource-wise – unless you have plans and a procedure to follow for growth, rapid expansion can be a risk.
Future-proofing your businesses for expansion may involve legal and financial advice and framework, as well as the creation of fallbacks and protections.
Tips for improving your business
As a business owner, you are probably aware of where your business could improve. Sometimes business owners want to improve their business but are not sure how to begin.
This is an overview of some key steps you can take to start improving your business.
Assess your situation
Before you start making changes, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a complete understanding of the factors affecting your business success.
These may include your current business practices, market trends or changes to the broader environment you operate.
Tools that can help you assess your business’s situation include:
SWOT-analysis – helps you identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Benchmarking – measures your business’s performance against similar-sized companies in your industry.
Market research – investigates your business’s market and industry to identify trends, changes and customer or client demands.
Trend analysis – uses business data collected over time to identify consistent results or trends.
Webinars (web-based seminars) – provide helpful information to help develop your business skills.
Set clear goals
Business goals can be as broad or as specific as you want them to be. Writing down your goals clearly will make it easier for you to achieve them. Make sure your goals are:
- specific – state clearly what you want to achieve
- measurable – make sure you can evaluate the success
- achievable – check your objective is something you have the time and resources to meet
- relevant – make sure your objectives improve profit drivers and improve some part of your business
- timely – set a specific date for completion.
Once you have written down your goals, you should prioritise them to decide which ones to focus on first.
Some goals may need to be more urgent than others. It’s also important to recognise that some plans will need to be addressed with a long-term strategy as you won’t meet them immediately because of resources, finances or time.
Identify strategies for achieving your goals.
Review your goals and list the factors you think are creating your current circumstances. Think about what strategy you could use to improve the situation.
Depending on the goals you’re trying to meet, you may want to think about using the services of a business professional, such as a professional trainer, a contractor or a business adviser.
Think realistically about what you can do yourself and where you may benefit from some support.
Develop a plan for implementing your strategies
To achieve your goals, you need to work out how to implement your strategies. Strategies often include several specific actions or tasks. It’s a good idea to develop a plan for how you will do this.
Write your plan in a format that suits you. It should include:
- a time frame – how long a task will take to complete as well as start and finish dates
- actions – state the individual steps as precisely as you can
- responsibilities – assign accountability for each step, so everyone knows exactly what you expect of them and who is responsible for ensuring the work is done
- resources – list budget, staff or supplies needed to complete each action
- a desired outcome – state how you will know that the action has been completed.
When you’ve developed your plan, you might want also to update your overall business plan.
Measure the results
Establishing how you will measure the results you want to achieve may be as simple as checking if you’ve completed an activity.
With larger goals, you may have to establish a more complex measurement process, like increasing profit by a set percentage or gaining a particular number of new clients. With these types of goals, it can also be helpful to assign points to measure their success as you’re working on them. This will help you keep your plan on track.
Consider how often you want to measure your business achievements. This can also help you set new goals regularly.
Four leadership tips to help you sustain business growth
Promising start-ups often stagnate after a couple of years, so how can you sustain business growth? Good leadership means investing in your people and yourself to help the business thrive, writes Sabri Suby, founder of King Kong, Australia’s fastest-growing digital agency.
Invest in your people
No single person has ever achieved much on their own, and the sooner you recognise this and invest in good people, the better. I started King Kong with one laptop and one phone, working from home. When I quickly realised that I couldn’t grow it alone beyond a certain point, I focused on building my team and the business infrastructure. Good people help you scale because they allow you to pursue every opportunity presented.
I hire for attitude. Skills on a CV only go so far, and businesses miss a lot of talent because they hire on skills developed with further training or experience. It’s better to find someone with a can-do attitude who’s not afraid of hard work and train them up.
Training is not the only investment you should make in your team. If your staff will be working for you and with each other for 40+ hours per week, you’d better make it a good time. Hire good talent, treat them well and give them a reason to be happy when they step into the workplace.
Many businesses subscribe to the rule ‘put your customers first. When you go beyond the start-up phase, that should be ‘put your team first’ because it’s the element you can control at scale. Your team is the most important thing to get right because they will look after the customers for you.
When you start a business, you get used to doing everything yourself. You need to shed this mindset so your business can scale and you can grow as a leader. Get comfortable identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and skill gaps, as being aware of your shortcomings means you can work to eliminate them.
Letting go and hiring a world-class management team to manage the day-to-day has been key to King Kong’s sustainable growth.
As part of this, learn to defend your time. Block out a couple of hours a day for your team to meet with you, so you’re accessible but won’t be interrupted while you’re in your flow. If you have an executive assistant or a calendar app, have your team request a chat via those methods rather than (metaphorically) leaving the door open.
Strive for productivity
You’ve probably heard of the Pareto principle or ‘80/20 rule’, where 20% of activities generate 80% of revenue. After analysing King Kong’s, I found that 64% of our entire revenue could be created by just 4% of my activities.
I focus on that and delegate the rest to my capable team.
On a personal level, I invest in planning: every minute spent planning saves time down the track. Split your end goal into monthly, weekly and daily goals, so you have a plan of attack. Starting each day with a strategy gives you productive momentum.
Business moves quickly, so if you wait for 100 per cent of the facts, you’ll never do anything.
Great leaders are effective risk-takers who can soon weigh up upsides and downsides on 30-40 per cent of the points to take calculated risks. Being decisive helps you seize opportunities so you can stay ahead.
Business growth is only sustainable if you’ve laid a good foundation. Scaling from a solo entrepreneur to a leader of a much larger team means you need to get your hiring right, so you’re backed by the skills and culture that enable you to grow.
This gives you the space to become a productive and effective leader, so you can grab opportunities when they arise and advance your business.
How to drive business growth in 2021
The film The Matrix introduced us to a reality we could have never imagined, and in 2020, COVID-19 did the same. Here entrepreneur and business leader Melanie Power discuss the advice she’s sharing with her global community of accounting professionals and small business owners on how best to navigate this new digitally-driven reality.
Who, like me, has had their fill of ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘pivots’? And yet, it does seem in many ways the best description of our daily experience.
The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has been tremendous. When independent companies make up a considerable chunk of the economy in Australia and New Zealand, the cumulative effect is even more significant.
During these last few months, I have worked very closely with accounting professionals globally and from my local community to navigate this unwanted reality and understand more about the numerous challenges they face.
In particular, many – who are often small businesses themselves – are struggling with the challenge of moving their companies online for the first time. It’s a whole new world for some.
What struck me was the sheer scale of change small businesses are now confronting. For many, going through COVID-19 has been like seeing The Matrix for the first time. For those who have not seen the dystopian film, Morpheus explains to Neo that many people just aren’t ready to see the Matrix – a reality so vastly different from the one they’re accustomed to and comfortable with.
I know this because I went through the same thing years ago when I made the shift online. Through perseverance, trial and error, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow my business using purely unpaid strategies – no paid advertising at all – to serve 120 clients and am now able to command the value I deserve. I now have a multi-million dollar business educating and coaching accountants and bookkeeping professionals to control the price they deserve too.
If you’re a small business feeling the same, here are a few things I learnt along the way:
Be clear about what you stand for
Pivoting your business online can be a cost-effective way of attracting new clients and keeping existing customers updated. Clients want to know how you’re going to help them and may be overwhelmed if offered a bevy of services that baffle them – I see so many websites with an extensive range of services littered with industry jargon that often mean nothing to a small business owner.
Hone in on what you offer and add your lens. Be specific about who you are and what you stand for.
Identify who you want to work with
Once you’ve identified what you stand for, it will be easier for you to clarify who you want to work with. No one likes working with clients who don’t respect them or see little value in what they offer. Being clear about your target market will make it easier when attracting new clients online because you can more clearly craft and describe your offering in your marketing.
By trying to offer everything to everyone, you risk being too broad, wasting valuable time on clients that don’t suit your business and spreading yourself too thin.
Take a systematic marketing approach.
To generate new client leads, you need to have a system and process in place – just like you would when servicing a client. Avoid being random and hoping that one networking event or one LinkedIn post will gain your business. There’s a good chance it won’t.
Marketing to your prospective clients takes time, and with a process in place, you’ll be able to take tips #1 and #2 and use them to create thoughtfully and considered content that delivers you more clients you want to work with.
To recap, you can make it easier and faster to establish your value to current and prospective clients by:
- Knowing who you want to speak to
- How to get in front of them
- What to say
- Why you are saying it
In the meantime, it’s essential not to forget the business basics that will keep your company on track as you grow. Cash flow is still king, and tools like cloud solution will give you visibility to help you stay on track of your expenses and income so you can make informed financial decisions.
Making your move online successful means more than just a website. By applying this logic to the way you advertise and communicate online – while maintaining focus on your core financials in the background – you’ll save time, money and increase your chances of growing your business in these difficult times. Get started with the basics, and the rest will follow.