When you use the following seven basic strategies, you build a solid foundation upon which to grow your business.
- Know Yourself
You want to be in a business that calls upon your strengths and satisfies a passion. If you don’t feel the passion, success becomes much harder and takes a lot more energy. If you’ve lost the passion you once felt, take a hard look at what went wrong, then take action to regroup or move on. If you’ve never felt the passion, it’s time for a more in-depth look at what decisions need to be made.
- Know Your Business
How can you make important decisions if you don’t have the information you need? Put the necessary systems in place to obtain accurate current information about the financial, productive, interpersonal and market status of your business. Then put one day a month on your calendar to review the information, analyze it and make any adjustments to policy or practice you think are necessary.
- Know Your Market
What trends are affecting your market? Is your market growing, consolidating or shrinking? Who’s coming or going? What are your competitors doing? Which products or services are in demand, which not? This is valuable information to have when you conduct your monthly business review and when you are doing financial or operational planning.
- Look at the Big Picture
Passion is important, but there needs to be a growing market trend for what you offer. Trends are especially important for long-term planning. How can you best position your business to take advantage of trends both now and in the future? Determine both your present and your desired position within the economy and your market, then create a plan to get from here to there.
- Use Technology Wisely
Consider what technology you’ll need to accomplish your mission. A thorough, professional analysis of which technologies can best serve your needs, both now and in the future, is in order at least annually. Plan capital expenditure in conjunction with the technology you’ll be using. If you’re not an expert in this area, call upon someone who is. It’s worth it in the long run.
- Hire Someone Else
Plan to spend the majority of your time doing what you do best and will be most beneficial to your business. Fulfill the activities to sustain and grow your business by hiring, contracting or setting up strategic alliances with others whose strengths are in your areas of need. Lay the groundwork for their success by giving them adequate information and orientation and making it clear (in writing) what you are seeking from them. Then set time frames for a joint evaluation of their contribution. Reward significant contributors in the way they want to be rewarded (with time, money, recognition, etc). Do the same for employees and anyone else who contributes to your bottom line success.
Where is your business now? Where do you want to go and how will you get there? Planning is easy if you keep in mind all you’re doing is gathering and analyzing pertinent information to answer these questions.
Use your analysis of operating information, market and economic trends and decide where your best opportunities lie. Determine your goals, how you’re going to achieve those goals, what it’s going to cost and when those costs will occur. This is the basis for determining how many widgets you’ll have to sell each month to meet cash flow requirements as your plan unfolds and evolves. Now decide the best way to meet those sales requirements and what that will cost. Add that to your budget and adjust your sales goals accordingly. See how planning works?