How to grow a small business?
If you are asking yourself this question, it is because you have successfully passed the first obstacles of the business creation. You have reached a certain sustainability. Well done !
You are right to think about tomorrow and to seek to develop yourself.
As you know if you have read me before, I like to compare theentrepreneurship to parenthood. Indeed, your business is like your child. You bring it into the world. You pamper him with care and concern in his first steps. And, quite naturally, you want him to grow well. May he be stronger every day to face the trials of life.
Your business is the same.
How to develop a business and make it stronger? I tell you everything in this article!
Why does a business need to grow?
Growth: a blessing or a curse?
After all, why absolutely seek perpetual growth? Is it really an obligation? What are we risking by living off our achievements?
I am not a strong advocate of "growth". In the past, it was considered to be an absolute blessing and a goal to be sought indefinitely. We can see that the endless economic growth (always more than production, always more consumption) poses problems on many levels, particularly environmental. (If the subject interests you, I invite you to read this interesting article on growth, degrowth and sustainable development.)
So, I'm not going to suggest you get bigger, bigger, bigger… to swallow all your competitors. The goal is not to gain a global monopoly like Amazon in commerce and Facebook in social media. 😉
Necessary but ethical business development
I see the business growth differently.
First, you have to be realistic. Even if you do not have global development ambitions, your business must face challenges competitors. It takes place in a market which is constantly changing, especially with new technologies.
You have to take this into account. You must react, adjust your offer and develop yourself in order to keep your competitive advantages. You have to think about that to run a business.
This logically leads you to constantly improve yourself. The proper functioning of a business depends on its development, however minimal it may be.
And this can very well be done in a ethical logic of respect for the environment and people. It's all up to you. 😉
There is another advantage, mainly psychological, to a vision of growth in the company. She gives you motivation. It creates envy and emulation in your teams, your employees and of course at home. After all, the human being is made like this: he goes forward.
So how can a business grow? It begins with an analysis of what already exists.
How to grow a small business: the preliminary analysis
An inventory is essential to know where you are and what you can improve and develop.
Financial assessment of a business
The financial situation of a company is very interesting for defining areas for improvement and development.
For example, if you have a large gross operating surplus, maybe it's a green light to start new projects? a new service? or hire?
It is advisable to carry out a regular analysis of the financial performance of a company for check that your activity is doing well. Take the opportunity to think about the feasibility of new opportunities!
When you created your business, you targeted a customer base. How about doing a little check-up on it?
- Has she changed? Has it grown?
- What is she buying from you? At what rate and for what amount?
- Also think about the catchment area : where does this clientele come from? Is she local (district? city? region?) Or relocated thanks to a online business ?
- Are your current competitors targeting the same customers?
Maybe you missed some targets. Or maybe you could develop yourself through a new customer segment. Who knows ?
Inventory of your products and services
This is perhaps where there are the most growth levers. I advise you to carefully observe your sales.
- What products and services do you sell the most?
- The ones that earn you the most turnover ? And most of margin ? So calculate the distribution of turnover and margin between your different services and products.
- Also compare your offer to that of your competitors. What do you offer more than them? Your initial benefit (unique selling point) still relevant?
At this point, you might get the idea for new services or new products. Or consider dropping some offers, unless you combine them differently into combination formulas that will make them stand out better.
A focus on your communication
How to develop a small business when you have poor control over your communication ? This point is really essential in the good management of a business.
The marketing is not the most obvious aspect for a TPE manager. Large companies generally have a department dedicated to this activity. This is not your case, I realize. But don't let that discourage you! Instead, tell yourself that it is a powerful lever for improvement and development for you.
To take stock, ask yourself the following questions:
- have you established targeted communication to your typical clients?
- do you have a strategy for retain your customers current?
- do you appeal to your best customers to become your ambassadors ?
- are you working on your communication at local level ?
- have you a web communication strategy ?
Finances, customers, offers, communication, this analysis step helps you to clearly define your strengths and weaknesses. It allows you:
- to better manage your business on a daily basis;
- to boost your business by giving you areas for development!
Finding the right development strategy for your business
You have made an inventory of your business. You know your strengths, your weaknesses and the main areas for improvement to be exploited. It's time to take action!
The different business strategies
There are different types of growth you can choose from for your business. These various development modes are not all adapted to your structure. The external growth strategy, for example, which is carried out through the acquisition of structures and the merger with other groups, is not really suited to a very small business, we agree!
There are, however, other strategic development paths for your small business.
- The internal growth strategy. As its name suggests, it aims to develop you internally. This is for example produce or acquire assets (hardware, software, etc.) and human resources (training for the manager and staff, recruitments, etc.).
- The joint growing strategy. How to scale a small business on a larger scale and on a small budget? By partnering with other VSEs or SMEs. This involves setting up joint actions with companies whose offer is complementary, or even competing with yours. Each brings resources, which makes it possible to consider large operations that only the “big ones” can usually afford. You may even consider competing with companies larger than you in your market. This is the realization of the proverb: "Unity is strength"!
The objectives of your business development strategy
Organic growth strategy, or joint growth strategy, or both: it's up to you to decide what seems most relevant to you. Whatever your choice, it will be used to reach your Goals.
And what are these objectives, exactly?
They depend on the analysis you have made of your business. What flaws have you identified? What untapped potential have you discovered? What ideas have germinated?
Now is the time to be creative and far-sighted. Do you want to review and / or expand your catalog as part of a diversification strategy ? or increase certain prices? or attract a new clientele?
In the majority of cases, you will have to invest. Be aware of this. Theinvestment is very important in the development of a business. It could be the purchase of equipment. The use of a service provider for the creation of a website. Recruitment of staff, a salesperson for example.
Take care of your strategy. Formalize it in writing, just like when you started your business. The business strategy is the crucial element of your development!
Developing your business: the role of the manager
Boost your business without drowning
Your role in the development of the company is essential. It is not just in the impetus you give to start actions. You are not there just to set goals.
As a leader, you define thebusiness organization. However, this one undergoes jolts when it develops.
Imagine that your business is entering its adolescent phase and you will better visualize the dangers. The boundaries change. You have to deal with more imponderables.
You may find yourself overloaded with an influx of new tasks without seeing it coming. It really is a pivotal moment for a company, during which it is difficult to take a step back.
It is therefore essential to set up a good business organization to deal with all unforeseen events.
Optimizing the business organization
How to improve a business so that it can sustain a period of growth? How to develop a small business in the best conditions for the well-being of the manager and his employees ?
I see two essential levers in building a good organization:
- theprocess automation ;
- the communication in the company.
As your business grows, the tasks and responsibilities multiply. It's inevitable.
In this context, it becomes vital for you to sort it out. To prioritize. Automate and delegate.
I say "vital" and I mean it sincerely. Your well-being is at stake, because the accumulation of time-consuming tasks is a huge source of stress for the entrepreneur.
So now is the right time for you to check your work procedures. I talk more about it in this article onbusiness automation.
Likewise, ask yourself how communication is going in your business. Does information flow easily and quickly?
The misunderstandings, the dysfunctions, the disagreements were perhaps not too disturbing before. In your growing business, however, they can seriously handicap you.
My interventions as a business coach have taught me to look at these problems with clarity. 😉 Pay attention to it too!
Support and develop the skills of employees
Right above, we talked about the evolution of business organization with automation and communication. There we talk about your evolution at you as entrepreneur. Are you ready to to delegate ? The development of your business will almost necessarily force you to do so.
Until now, you may have been giving instructions to your employees. And that's all. Delegating is very different, because it involves giving certain members of your team a good dose of autonomy. You will relinquish some of the power you have to him. It is very destabilizing for an entrepreneur.
Besides the impression of a “dispossession”, you will ask yourself many questions: who to choose? On what criteria? And how do you develop an employee so that they can take on these responsibilities?
The criteria to be taken into account are personal and depend on you, but there is one that is essential: the trust. You must have confidence in your collaborators, as well in their skills that in their values.
This is the key to successfully transmitting to them the knowledge, the know-how, and possibly the interpersonal skills they will need to support you effectively!
How do you feel about the perspective of the development of your business ?
Are you enthusiastic? impatient? scared ? All the answers are correct. Periods of change are important stages in the life of a company… and of an entrepreneur.
They are also moments of vulnerability. Indeed, a poorly prepared company can have difficulty regaining stability in these key periods. And this is also true of the leader! You need to be psychologically ready to adapt, to review your habits and your outlook, to delegate. These adjustments require hindsight. An outside perspective is invaluable in these situations.
How do you grow a small business smoothly, smoothly? The solution of coaching is a real added value. I suggest you contact me to tell me about your doubts and expectations. I have a great deal of experience in business development strategy and in team management. I also favor the psychological aspect of entrepreneurship, with the construction of a mindset of the entrepreneur strong to face obstacles calmly.