Growing your business

Date: 6th November 2011

The debate on whether the recession is on the way out continues, mainly it seems outside Hawkes Bay as local business owners are still not bullish about the future. Whatever the situation with the economy nationally, the time for sitting around waiting for the upturn has long since passed. We business owners have to learn how to cope with (and even thrive and grow during) extended recessionary periods as our future and prosperity is in our hands, and our hands alone – blaming others and this and that won’t help us in the slightest. So what are the keys things we can do to get on and take control of our businesses?

Set Goals. Having an attainable goal in life or business can be more important to success than almost anything that you do. Heard the saying that if you aim for nothing you’ll hit it with remarkable accuracy every time? Would you set out on a journey without knowing your destination?

Writing down your goals has been proven to be the best way to achieve success. At Harvard University in the US a survey discovered that in one particular class 3% of the students had written goals. 10 years later it was found that the net wealth of the 3% was greater than that of the other 97% combined.
It’s the difference between drifting and being reactive and taking control and making things happen. They say that millionaires look at their written goals every day but billionaires write down their goals three times a day.

What goals do you have? To retire early? To grow and sell your business? To have every Friday off? To live free of financial pressures? They’re all possible early if you set goals!

Planning. International research reveals that, on average, businesses with a working business plan achieve 63% higher revenue growth and 58% higher profit growth yet the average small businessperson spends more time planning their annual holidays than they do in their business.

Why did you go into business? More money? More time off? Be your own boss? Some people never attain their full potential in business, they just swop one job for another which often requires more hours and sometimes with less money! If you don’t plan & spend time looking at and working on your business you won’t maximise the potential and profits in your business.

The three questions you need ask yourself to plan are:

  1. Where I am now?
  2. Where would I like to be?
  3. How am I going to get there?

Don’t just write a long business plan based on a borrowed boring template for its own sake – it will end up in the desk draw or gathering dust. My preferred business plan is one with short and succinct one pagers for each area of the business – operations, marketing, HR, management control and Key Perfomance Indicators, each with their objectives and accountability.

Accountability. What would make it easier for business owners to take action? More time, more resources, or more of a willingness to embrace change? One sure fire thing that works is accountability to another, which is something one gets when working for someone else. Unfortunately, when you start your own business, you lose the benefit of accountability – as you only have yourself to answer to.

Accountability has been defined as the obligation of an individual to account for his or her activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

There is nothing so motivating than knowing one is going to be embarrassed, be out on a limb or otherwise in trouble for not completing a task – business partners are good, spouses can be OK, even your older kids can turn out to be good sounding boards, but the most efficient accountability tools of all in a business scenario are Business Mentors or Coaches. This is because you are normally paying for their services and thus would be wasting your money if you didn’t do anything as a result, they are skilled in business and can therefore come up with ideas you didn’t have, they can immediately see things you can’t objectively, and importantly, they can help you see the bigger picture, set goals and help you reach them, getting you away from the day-to-day minutiae.

Written by: Nick Roberts | Posted on 28 October 2011.

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