Small to medium businesses make up the majority of the business world, and all have the potential for growth regardless of the sector in which they reside. While not everyone is going to have the success of Richard Branson, who went from selling records to being the instantly recognisable global multi-billionaire entrepreneur we know today, learning from his drive, self-belief and ambition is a good starting point.
This is because ambition, along with both strategic and operational planning, could be the limiting factor in growing your small business, particularly if it isn’t being channelled in the right direction. Want to know more? Read on for important tips on how to grow your small business.
Revisit your management and leadership capability
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker, American author, educator and management consultant
When it comes to growing your small business, it is important that every business owner start with taking a long hard look at their current systems and processes, but it’s even more important for them to understand their own strengths and possible weaknesses. If you have the ambition for growth and the vision for your business but not the personal capability in leadership and management techniques to carry this through, then you have two choices.
The first option is to invest in your own development, and indeed there are a number of organisations, business mentorship programmes, and training and support networks that you can get in contact with to carry out your own SWOT analysis. Looking at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of your business is key when you’re first setting up your business, and it’s worth revisiting regularly, especially at the point of growth.
At the same time, include the current and future personnel skills needed to lead the organisation through the growth period, and set out your own continual professional development plan to meet those needs. Be consistent in your approach to everyone you deal with.
“I’m a very consistent leader, and people won’t find me different day to day. You won’t have to have the sort of conversation that says, ‘How is she today? Is this a good day to have this conversation?’ You won’t find that situation with me. I treat people with respect.” – Gail Kelly, former CEO of Westpac
Your second option is to be honest about the leadership roles required, and if you are much happier at the “coal face” of production, innovation and design, then do look to hire the right professional who will be able to take on the CEO role.
As the business owner, you have to be prepared to move from the role of “visionary, can do hero” to the strategist, and if this is not a role that sits comfortably with you, then get someone else to take on this position. If you are able to grow and develop, then be ready to articulate clearly the vision that you have for your company, as you seek to inspire everyone from your staff and customers to your investors.
Stick to the basics (and your customer base)
A lot of businesses grow organically. They are successful because 90% of the time their growth factor is due to their selling more of their current services and products to existing customers. So never take your eyes off the basics of getting to know your customers and anticipating their wants and needs.
Interacting with customers has never been easier for businesses, and thanks to the Internet, every small business today has the chance to interact on a global scale. Investment in key personnel is crucial as they will be the interactive face of your product or service as you begin to grow. Invest in customer service training and lead by example.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
Make sure you get your customer service right because word of mouth advertising is one of the best ways to get your brand out there, and more importantly, it is free.
Finally, recognise your own personal goals
“When you’re first thinking through an idea, it’s important not to get bogged down in complexity. Thinking simply and clearly is hard to do.” – Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
Don’t lose sight of why you started the company in the first place and be very clear about your personal goals and what drives you to get up in the morning. Make sure you take care of not just your employees, investors and customers, but yourself also. Your personal physical health and mental wellbeing are fundamental to the ongoing success of your business, and being the ultimate professional will engender confidence and respect from both within and outside the organisation.
There’s no denying that small businesses are oftentimes a risky, challenging venture, but if you’re fortunate enough to have a business that you’re passionate about, then the rewards will be great and success (when it comes) will be all the sweeter. Stay focused, and good luck!
About the author
Julie Pettett Numanoglu is the Managing Director of Brighton Panel Works, a company her father founded that specialises in prestige car repairs and panel beaters in Melbourne. A mother of three children, she also has a business degree in marketing and previously owned another retail business. Having worked in the corporate world for a number of years, she understands the importance of learning from the experts when it comes to managing and running a company effectively.