Exciting times here as I continue my mission to support entrepreneurs to grow strong businesses. It breaks my heart that more people than ever are setting up in business, but within 5 years 8 out of 10 of those businesses will fail. Business owners start out with enthusiasm and excitement, but wind up giving up on their dreams. There are some key barriers to success and if you know what these are, you can prepare to scale and get past them quicker and with gusto.
This month I’m opening doors to The Greenhouse, my business building online programme for smart entrepreneurs ready to grow on solid foundations. I’ve carefully designed and structured it for business owners who’ve got themselves overwhelmed and frustrated with “all the things they don’t know“. It’s a 3 month business strategy journey to step back and dig deep into the roots of the business, in order to power forward strongly and with confidence to grow. It will also include a “Legal-Easy” 6-week training on how to stay on the right side of the law, a plethora of checklists and workbooks to support action and implementation, expert guests, and (critically) peer-group accountability.
So whilst developing the marvellous content (I kid you not – it’s brilliant and the programme I WISH had existed 5 years ago when I was growing my own business), I’ve been digging out all my research from years of supporting small business owners to find out what they really want and need to grow a solid business.
(Let’s bear in mind that what you want and what you need are quite often two very different things!)
HOW TO GROW
In this blog post I’ve pulled out 5 of our favourite “top tips” on building a small business strongly to £6figure revenue and beyond. Have a look through and see what you could focus on this month to super-power and grow your own business.
1. REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
(Ok well the first thing to say is…if you don’t have a business plan, get it sorted!
It doesn’t have to be a long and complicated document, but it definitely needs to exist and it needs to be updated on a regular basis. A business without a Plan is like a ship without a rudder.)
Strong businesses work towards tangible goals. That’s a simple fact to support you to grow, and focus.
So when did you last pull out your business plan and review your key Goals? Let’s take this opportunity to get it out [dust it off] and do a proper review. Involve your team and check whether the goals are hairy and audacious enough. I bet you find goals you forgot you had set and have done precious little about.
Turn off the phone and the emails and set aside an hour to sit and reflect.
- What has worked well this year and contributed to growth?
- What needs improvement and has caused stress or pain or set backs?
- Where have you spent most of your time and has it paid off?
- What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of?
- Have you outgrown some of the goals and need to review and challenge? (It’s likely that some of the goals have been sidelined and you need to decide whether to re-visit them or put them on hold.)
- Are the 1 year goals dovetailing nicely with the 3 year and 5 year goals?
- What about exit strategy?
Set aside the time to do this. One of the biggest barriers to growth in small business is that the owner works IN the business not ON the business. You should carry out a half-day or full day Business Plan review every quarter.
In an ideal world, this is a regular activity as a matter of good business practice. You should make sure your key goals are published and shared with your team, and with suppliers and customers if relevant. Use visualisation techniques and affirmations to act into the achievement of your goals so they feel real and tangible. Make decisions from the place of achieving those goals so you say “yes” or “no” to opportunities from that mindset.
Intention sets Direction.
2. FINANCIAL HEALTH-CHECK
There are not many business owners who love to sit down and review their numbers. Unfortunately, it is something you have to get comfortable with and in the habit of doing regularly.
It’s a very important way to super-power your business, because it will expose and identify for you where your business is doing well and where you need to step in and take action.
- What were your sales this month? Review all key indicators, revenue, profit, spend, see where you are against quarter-end and year-end targets.
- What are the price points for your products/services and how many of each have you sold?
- How much did you spend on supply chain?
- What debts are unpaid?
- Are you up to date on payments of loans, invoices, bank debts?
- What is the profit margin on that bestselling product?
- Why has the cost of a particular service gone up this quarter?
- How much have you paid out to affiliates or referral partners?
You get the point, we won’t labour it. If this is your Achilles heel, then take small steps this month to improve your know-how, so that you can grow without running out of cash. It’s the number one cause of failure for small businesses.
Those of you with a book-keeper or accountant, just reach out and ask the questions. That’s what you’re paying them for. Set a regular diary appointment to go through the numbers with them and get-yourself-savvy. They will enjoy doing this with you because it makes their lives easier in the long run.
And it’s going to set you apart from the other business owners who bury their heads in the sand. I want you to get yours out of the sand so you can power forward your business without losing your head or your hard-earned investment.
3. GROW YOUR ASSETS & BRAND
Your brand and your intellectual property are amongst the most valuable assets you can use to grow. Even if you are just a start-up or a solopreneur, getting-savvy about protecting your IPR assets from day 1 is a great habit to get into. Down the line, you will be glad you did – because IPR assets become things you can exploit and make money from, not to mention the fact that defending your brand from copycats or infringement is expensive and time consuming.
Get the foundations right and invest time and money now in ensuring that your brand is protected so that you can grow without losing precious value.
- your business name and trading name(s) should be trade-marked. This is not a cheap process but if you are serious about building your business then it is something you should do. You should also consider trademarking the names of your key products or programmes if they are capable of registration.
- content shared on your website or online should be copyrighted and marked with an appropriate notice
- When launching new products/services make sure you have researched the market to ensure you aren’t infringing anyone else’s rights.
- make sure contracts with employees, third party designers, suppliers or customers clearly assert your rights over your IP and how they can use anything which you provide to them
- keep your website update and ensure it is legally compliant. If you have a blog then make sure you monitor comments or product/service reviews regularly
You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed just reading this short list. We provide our “Legal Easy” training course as a separate training module so email me firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s so important. That’s why it’s a core content pillar in The Greenhouse. Business owners just need practical, jargon-free advice to go implement and take action. It’s the “not knowing” which causes us sleepless nights, so let’s get you know-how’d up so you can rest easy and grow your assets to make money.
4. PLAN FOR SUCCESS
A mistake made by so many small business owners is succumbing to overwhelm and the “not enough hours in the day” syndrome.
I see and hear this so much with my clients, particularly because it is the reason most commonly given when we are parachuted in to help with contract disputes or help with chasing debts.
I knew I needed to do x, y, z…it had been on my list for ages…but I just never got round to it.
And hey, I’m by no means perfect. My to-do list gets bursting at the seams frequently…but I’ve learnt to recognise the signs and get back to my Trello board to plan stuff out and take action.
Something I’ve have been working very hard in the last 3 years is scheduling and planning time against goals and working in 90 day cycles. I invested in Todd Herman’s 90 day year programme, and more recently implemented Gemma Went’s 90-day cycle techniques.
Knowing whether a task is contributing towards the overall direction of your business gives you absolute clarity on whether you should be spending time on it or not!
I’ve also been using the “block and tackle” method…blocking off chunks of time to complete certain tasks and being terrier-like about completing them.
Anything which is critically important to the success of your business needs to be scheduled and planned in. The same way as you wouldn’t let down or cancel a client at the last minute, do the same with your critical business success tasks.
- Decide what you really want to achieve in your business in a given time period (I’ve been working in 90 day blocks, using 1-week sprints).
- List the tasks required to get there (and assign owners and dates).
- Delegate or outsource the tasks where possible so your time is still spent in your zone of genius.
- Block and tackle the tasks and encourage/support your team to do the same
- Track and monitor the tasks until the overall goal is completed.
- Rinse and repeat.
Sounds simple huh? Hmmm. Definitely a case of easier said than done.
But it’s a trait of all successful business owners so start practising asap. When you feel organised it’s so empowering, leaving your energy free to create and innovate and do more of the things you love in your business day to day.
5. RECHARGE TO SUPER-CHARGE
Small business owners are naturally driven, ambitious and love challenge and variety.
You mustn’t confuse that with being Superman/woman.
Take time out to refresh and rejuvenate on a regular basis. Make sure you get balance and you’re spending quality time with family, friends, and on your own.
Recharging can be done inside of business hours too. Maximise your time on the things you enjoy the most.
What are the bits of your business you enjoy the most?
- If it’s networking and meeting new people, then build in time for this every month.
- If it’s getting close to your customers, diarise a weekly lunch with your favourite and most valued clients.
- If it’s creating content or designing new products, block out time each month to do just that.
You get my point. You built your own business to have fun and gain freedom. Don’t lose sight of that. Don’t mistake passion and commitment as needing to work 24 hours a day. Work smart and make it fun. Get a “been there done it” business mentor (ahem, that’ll be me). Surround yourself with like minded peers (The Greenhouse?) And of course, outsource the legal stuff to smart people you can trust. Like Team Serenwood. #shameless-sales-pitches
NOW OFF YOU GO!
5 tips to grow your business which you can implement today. Go get super-powered and tell me what worked well for you. Sign up to my blog for more inspiration on how to grow your business.
P.S. Waitlist for The Greenhouse programme here
P.P.S. I’m also offering a limited number of Flower Power strategy sessions – check it out here