Sustainable growth is one of the biggest challenges for startups as well as for SMEs. We all know the facts and figures about how many businesses fail within their first year, and even the ones that cross the one year mark find it difficult to sustain profitability in coming years.
And, honestly no one wishes to be a part of something which we just discussed. Starting up may be easy, but let me tell you that growth is never easy. You have to work hard and smart to get your business on a sustainable growth track.
So, if you want to boost your new business to success, then here are the important tips that you need to know.
1- Be Ready to Grow
In the beginning, you might only have a couple of employees within your business. However, if you don’t want to lose business to your larger competitors, you need to have a plan in place for growth. You want to be able to offer your customers a similar, if not better, service than what your larger competitors offer.
Then, they don’t need to be convinced to come to you over someone with a larger reputation, as they already know you’re good at what you do. For this to happen, you need to be ready to grow and take on more staff when you need to. If you’re not ready to take this step up and bring in more people, then you’ll be stuck when you can’t fulfill orders or give the same level of service.
As long as you do the research and understand when the growth is sustainable, you won’t need to worry about any extra outgoings. It can be scary to take on more staff, as these represent a further outgoing for your company, but if you don’t then you’ll be staying as a small business.
2- Define your USP
There are probably a lot of other companies doing the same thing as you, so how do you stand out? By defining and sticking to your USP, you will be able to easily show potential clients why they should come to you instead of a competitor. You might offer a high level of service, have a certain selection of products or deliver in a short period of time. Whatever your USP is, you want to push this across all messages from your brand.
Getting into a specific niche can be good for businesses that work across a busy sector. There are lots of competitors out there, so specialising in one thing and showing that you know your stuff will allow you to gain customers that they will not. This can narrow down your target audience, but it can be worth it to do so to get the customers that want a specialist vendor.
This should inform your brand identity too, so you can place yourself as the expert in whatever it is that you do. This allows your potential customer to have faith in you and want to buy from you.
3- Know your Target Market
Creating a persona of who you want to target will also allow you to shape your marketing and brand voice. In order to appeal to these people, you have to know who they are and what they like. You can run focus groups or send out questionnaires to help you to target these people.
With this information, you can start to create a strategy that will get these people to your website and interested in your products. You might think you know what they like already, but if you do some research then they might just surprise you!
4- Track Projects
Working on projects with others in your business can prove tricky to manage. You don’t want to spend all of your time emailing and calling people to find out if they have taken care of their task. Instead, you want to be able to get a quick overview of who is doing what.
There are quite a few different project management tools out there that you could potentially use. Some are digital and others rely on good old fashioned pens and paper. You can trial a few different ones with your team to see which they tend to respond to.
Kanban in particular is a popular choice for SMEs, as it offers a quick overview on a task. If you like to get a high level view, before looking at the details then this may be a good one for you to use. This kind of information is great for business owners, as it allows you to clearly see how a project is progressing. Depending on the nature of your business you may use different Kanban board templates that fit best your needs.
5- Look After your Finances
The last thing you want is to find that your finances are in disarray when your accountant calls you up. It’s better for business owners to always be informed and in control of what they have to spend. That way, when it comes to making a decision on a purchase, you already have an idea of your cash flow.
This may mean you have more regular meetings with the finance team, or ask for them to send you summaries. There’s nothing worse than not knowing what’s going on within your own finance department! Take an interest in the money and you will be able to grow your business more effectively.
As you grow, keeping your eyes on the money is important. Some business owners can lose sight of these as the company grows, but this means that you’re not as aware of what’s going on. No matter how busy you are, make sure you prioritise this.
6- Scope out New Ventures
Being flexible within your business and identifying new areas for your business to grow will allow you to find new ways to make money. While you might not want to stray away from the familiar, expanding your reach can really pay off. New technology and even new industries can be appealing, so be flexible enough to take advantage of these.
Again, if you know how much cash you have in your business, you’ll be more able to assess whether it’s the right time to take these steps. If you want to move quickly on a new opportunity, then you need to have this information to hand.
7- Be Open to Investment
Many people don’t want to open up their business for investment, as they want to own it all for themselves. This kind of thinking can be detrimental though, as you might be missing out on a big opportunity. Making yourself open to investment is only the first step though, as you have to convince others to invest with you too.
Before you go in for a round of investment, you need to have all the details. This includes financial reporting, business plans and routes for expansion. You can’t hope for investors to have faith in you if you don’t have the right information for them.
It’s a good idea to think about how much of your company you would be happy to sell. There may be some fierce negotiations involved, so don’t be afraid to walk away if this goes over and above your limits.
The Bottom Line
With so many SMEs failing in the current climate, you have to be switched on and ready to push yourself to success. If you’re lazy or don’t pay as much attention to the business, then you’ll find that things start to fall apart. Just keep your eye on the ball and you will be ready to launch your startup to success and future growth.