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5 things to do to help you grow your business...

If you’re a small business owner, you may not want to stay small forever. However, growing your business to ensure a profitable, secure and long-term future can be a challenge, as expanding too quickly or too slowly can create unexpected problems.

The following five tips should help you focus on the elements of your business that are likely to need attention if you are to achieve the growth and success you are looking for. Naturally there are other areas that need attention as well, (such as providing an excellent service, developing your team etc.), but the 5 areas we have focused upon are the key areas we find that businesses often struggle with, or ignore altogether.

1. Have a written plan – When someone mentions the term ‘Business Plan’ people think in terms of a ten-page document explaining everything about the business to the outside world. That is not what I am talking about! I don’t mean a plan written for the bank or for investors but one written for YOU (there’s no need for any financial projections). Quite simply your plan details a promise to yourself; it articulates what you want to achieve and how you want to live your life, whether that’s to build your business in order to sell in three to five years and make your million/s; or to have more time away from work without everything crumbling around your ears.

However, it’s not enough to say you want to sell your business, or to have more time off work, you need to be specific. How much do you want to sell for, or how many days do you want to work? Once you have specific goals it becomes possible to work out what you need to do to achieve them and to set timescales and measure progress towards reaching them

2. Develop You – The truth is you are going to have to change how you work! To successfully grow your business, you can’t just do more of what you’re doing now, you will need to start doing things differently!

This will most probably feel dangerous because you’ve been successful so far doing things the way you have, but if you are to build a bigger business ready for sale, or one that doesn’t rely on you 24/7 you will have to change how you operate.

This can be difficult BUT the outcome of successfully making the necessary changes will be to have a business that no longer requires your (full time) presence, personality or perspiration to operate effectively and successfully.

At this stage it may be worthwhile to enlist the help of a business coach, who for a relatively small investment should be able to help you keep on track and accelerate progress towards your goals.


3. Get control of the money – As your business grows you won’t be able to manage your money in your head any more. You will need regular, accurate and up to date financial information. Annual/ quarterly accounts are no good to you! You need financial information monthly with updated c/f forecasts weekly. If you’re not on top of cash management you’ll be stuck in an endless cycle of fire-fighting which growth will only exacerbate.

By using the right software (web enabled bookkeeping software costs very little), your accountant should be able to assist you produce the relevant and accurate financial reports that will help you maintain control over turnover, costs and profitability. The right software will also help you automate the cash collection process which should have an immediate and positive impact on your business.


4. Understand your marketing - Most businesses focus on existing customers and WOM for the vast majority of their business. Both are critical to success, but you cannot control the rate of growth with either and if you can’t do this you’re not fully in control of your business!

To get control, you’re going to have to find what marketing/ lead generation activity works for you. As this varies from one business to another, you’ll probably have to try several different approaches (and maybe some external help) before you find what works for you.

Once you understand what works for you, you can build a system/ process for generating new business. The starting point will be to analyse what it costs to generate a quality lead (L) and to know how many leads it takes to generate a customer (C). Once you have this information, together with the average revenue generated per customer per year (and the average lifetime value of a customer), you are in a position to work out a strategy to generate the revenues you require to achieve the goals you have set.


i.e. Revenue required = Number of customers required (N)

C

L X N = Number of leads required to generate revenue target.


5. Breaking through the control barrier – You must stop taking control of every decision in your business. As a single human being there’s a limit to the amount of work, problems and decisions that you can tackle in a single day. Stop being a bottleneck! To successfully grow, you will have to start delegating, it’s as simple as that!

And it’s not just tasks that need to be delegated, it’s also responsibility. You are, therefore, going to have to make. Remember though, without access to key information about how your business is performing, delegation can quickly become abdication! Systems, therefore, need to be created that map how things should be done and that provide you with the key information about how your business is performing on a day to day basis.


And finally

It doesn’t matter how successful (or not) you are today. Your future will be shaped by the decisions and actions you take from this day forward. Remember, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve, always assuming that you are prepared to pay the price (i.e. prepared to do what needs to be done).

The starting point is to always be honest with yourself about:

- What your goals are in specific terms.

- Where the business is right now.

- The progress you are making towards your goals.

- What needs to change in order to achieve them.

- Your willingness/ ability to take consistent action.

- Being open to accepting advice and help – no one can do it by themselves.


Just Figures are accountants specialising in small businesses. In addition to the normal range of accounting services, Just Figures offer additional consultancy and coaching services to the owners of growing businesses.


To find out more, call Jerry Gordon-Brown on 01959 565 679

or email jerry@justfiguresltd.co.uk

Just Figures: Accountants for small businesses and individuals who want help with Accounts, Bookkeeping, Payroll, VAT, CIS, Tax Advice

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Unit 2, Warren Farm,

Main Road, Sundridge,

Sevenoaks, TN14 6EE