All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
As a business coach I ask two key questions to young entrepreneurs: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? It is important to thoroughly explore these as the growth stage requires you to be firmly in the driver’s seat.
It requires focus, courage and a new way of doing business. Many businesses fail because they are under the impression that it is business as usual.
Related: How Vusi Thembekwayo keeps his business growing
Base camp - getting growth fit
This point of your journey can be compared with reaching base camp on the climb up a mountain. Base camp is about getting growth-fit. Look at your business through two simple lenses,save more and sell more. Here are useful tips and online resources to guide you up the mountain.
- Go lean. Waste and bottlenecks reduce operational efficiency and can derail growth. Identify waste and investigate how lean principles can streamline your business. Use the internet as a source for quick learning. Here are a few links to get started. Look at the DOWNTIME explanation of waste and 5 steps you can implement quickly to get lean and smart.
- Cash flow is king. Growth puts considerable strain on financial resources and cash flow. Do an audit to reduce unnecessary cost. Where can you save by improving relationships with suppliers and customers to negotiate better terms or earlier settlement? Review your pricing to ensure that you get maximum return from your product/service. Speak to your bank or other support services of capital to discuss your growth plan.
- Get compliant. Lack of compliance is a holdup to growth. It is normally required for large tenders and projects. This includes SARS, finance, legal, HR and industry compliance needs. It is important if you want to explore exporting. Investors, financiers and procurement departments regard compliant businesses as more credible.
- Connect. We live in a connection economy where it is no longer enough to pitch your product/service. Customers are looking for connection, relationships and value. Design your sales/marketing processes to gather data that builds relationships consistently – ensure integrated marketing messages across all channels that brings customers back for more.
- Network. People buy from people. You will achieve more if you network strategically with decision-makers. Find out where they gather - both face-to-face and online - then follow-up and deliver. It is through networking that we stimulate the most effective form of marketing – word of mouth.
- Strategic partnerships. Collaboration can help you shift from a scarcity to an abundance mentality. Strategic partners are not formal partnerships, but collaborators who come together for a specific project. They share resources and expertise to make a more substantial presence. This improves results and diminishes risk. It is important to document partnerships and be clear on expectations, division of work and income.
Related: Elon Musk’s secrets to mega growth
To climb the mountain, the quality of your leadership is critical. You need to work in the business and on the business. Look in and look forward. It is a courageous journey that needs focus, commitment and vision. Surround yourself with a support system that will take you to the summit.