HOW TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Whether you’re a one-person operation or you already have a handful of employees, learning how to grow a business is a natural way to build on your achievements. But you’re not going to get very far if you don’t know where to start. Follow these 10 steps for healthy, profitable growth.
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS YOU DO
Who are you in your business, and who are you serving? For example, what business is Starbucks in? You might say coffee. But ask Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and you’ll likely get the story of his trip to Italy. There he saw people eagerly meeting in cafés before and after work. The promise of a transitional meeting place between home and work was the seed that grew into Starbucks. He knew his business was about creating a consistent experience, not just delivering coffee.
Grasping the deeper meaning that is infused with your company is a huge part of helping your business grow. Revisit your core company values and determine whether your current product and service lineup aligns with the company you want to be. For example, you may be in the business of selling tires, but you can also stand for helping the homeless if this is your core value and you donate a certain amount of profit each month to local shelters.
2. KEEP AN EYE ON THE STATE OF YOUR INDUSTRY
If you understand what your business really is, you can anticipate changes in the market and continue to find ways to grow your business. You’ll see the possible opportunities and threats that you otherwise might overlook and prevent disruption from competitors who are adept at anticipating change.
3. EVALUATE YOUR EMPLOYEES
Who do you have now as part of your team? Are they on board with your company values? Do you have effective recruitment strategies to find the kind of people you need? Is there anyone who isn’t a good fit anymore?
Take stock of the assets you have, the assets you lack and what’s holding you back. Again, you can’t learn how to grow a business without a full, accurate picture of your current position.
4. REMEMBER THE CLIENT COMES FIRST
Tony talks about creating “raving fans”; these are clients that stick with you and really appreciate your brand, not just the item or service you’re selling. Learning how to grow your business means also learning how to attract and retain these types of loyal customers.
Drill down into who your ideal client is. Develop empathy for them. What do they need? What are their pain points, and what do their lives look like? Everything your company provides – whether it’s a product or service – must be aimed at making your customer’s life easier.
5. KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
What makes you talkably different from your competitors? Think about where you stand in the grander scheme of things. Are you in an aging industry and need to get out? Are you the clear incumbent or are you charting completely new territory?
No matter where you are, you have two choices: you can grow or you can die. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s easy to say “I want to understand how to grow a small business,” but then what?
Tony says if your why is strong enough, your how will come. And good news: You just laid out your why. You’ve just figured out what business you’re really in and why, what your clients need and why. So now it’s time to figure out the how of business growth, which is the key to mastering business growth strategies.
6. KEEP ADDING VALUE
Once you understand how to consistently offer more value than anyone else in your market, you’re in a better position to identify where you are now. You’ll also clearly see what it will take to get to where you want to be. You’ll have more certainty about what your business needs to do to grow now, and you’ll be better able to steer your organization in accordance with that vision. Most importantly, you’ll understand what business you need to be in to become the dominant force in your market.
7. TAKE ONLINE BUSINESS COURSES
You don’t have to get your MBA to learn how to grow your business, but it never hurts to further your education. There are hundreds of accredited online business courses that can teach you everything from marketing skills to general business growth principles to specialized techniques for finding your niche. You can do most of them from the comfort of your home and on your own time.
8. WORK WITH A BUSINESS COACH
No man is an island, and this is especially true for entrepreneurs who are trying to learn how to grow a small business. Working with a professional business coach can take you from a “wantrapreneur” to a true force in the business world. A coach can help you develop your business map and problem-solve everything from time management issues to building a team that works.
9. REACH OUT TO MENTORS
You’re not the only one trying to learn how to grow your business. Many have walked this same road before and are eager to help you – or even share your path. A good network of mentors consisting of those who are in your same boat and those who have already achieved success is the perfect way to get new ideas and perspectives. When you expose yourself to others’ ways of thinking and solving problems, you stay flexible and are better prepared to face the changes that inevitably come with running a company.
10. STAY FLEXIBLE
One of Tony’s tenets of peak performance is flexibility. Growing your business means change – and it won’t always be comfortable. You may realize the night before a launch that a product needs a complete redesign. Go with it: Pull the product from the market and make it right rather than send out something that might be defective. Your marketing team might come up with an outrageous plan to spread the word across social media. Be flexible and try new things.
Understand that change is necessary for any kind of growth. So long as you’re staying true to your company’s core values and developing products and services your customers want and that you believe in, these rough patches will pass.