*This article was originally published in Chamber of Commerce Magazine
W4 Magazine, Chamber of Commerce – Budget Friendly Strategies to Grow Your Business
According to Bucks County.org, most Bucks County area businesses are small (less than 3 people). And while the economy is starting to gain traction, business owners are looking with cautious optimism toward the future. They’re not making any hurried decisions.
The turning economic climate, however, is not a time for staying in your comfort zone. It is still critical that businesses are careful to make wise, strategic business decisions that often require small business owners to get out of their comfort zones.
If you’re like most business owners, you are so busy focusing on the daily tasks of running the business that it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Yet, if you don’t take the time to work ON your business plan for future growth, it’s all too easy to go in circles rather than accomplishing the tasks that will get you to where you want to be.
Your business success depends on you to choose and apply the best advice and proven methods that will work for you. But it can be a minefield out there.
There’s so much information it can be overwhelming just knowing where to start. Yet, if you have the right blueprint, growing your business is really a matter of following a well-marked trail of other successful people.
Here are four strategies to grow your business without breaking the bank, and tips on how to overcome the common obstacle to these strategies. Once you start integrating them into your business, you will have laid the groundwork for your success blueprint!
Option 1: Increase your marketing! Roll out a series of strategic, multiple marketing campaigns (keyword: multiple). Whether you are trying to break your company’s first million dollar milestone or whether you’re looking to move into the $200 million dollar level both scenarios will require increasing your company’s current level of visibility and raising greater awareness of your company’s unique sales proposition in the marketplace. Whatever the scale, the goal of achieving greater output will first need to start with increasing greater input. In today’s economy the key challenge is the ever-decreasing budget shortage. There are a number of strategies to try to meet the budget challenge. Here are three:
a. Join forces. Many of your marketing projects can receive greater funding, thus achieve greater response rates when you team together with one or two other complementary businesses. Joining forces can be as simple as a joint direct mail campaign or as creative as an alliance of businesses sponsoring a special event. Plus, multiple businesses together will always add more value to the end customer who attends the event.
b. Carve out a market niche. Increasing your marketing does not have to equate to increasing your marketing budget. But, in order to do so you will have to squeeze more leverage from your existing marketing budget. Businesses will always get a better ROI if your marketing message is being directed to a highly targeted market segment. Choosing to be more selective on “who” receives your marketing dollars will impact 50% or more return. The remaining balance will impacted by this third strategy.
c. Differentiate your value proposition. Marketing dollars will quickly disintegrate and be forgotten when the message is directed to a broad audience and especially so when the unique sales proposition isn’t really all that unique (in comparison to your competitor’s offerings) Investing the time and energy to evaluate a truly unique and compelling message that sets your business apart is a smart strategy to meeting the challenge of limited marketing dollars.
Strategy 2: Hire higher talent. I meet a lot of new clients whose belief is that no one can do as good of a job as they could, so they would just rather not waste the money on paying someone else to do a poor job. So, what ends up happening is these same small business owners continue laboring on that hamster wheel year after year in a blur of putting out fires, chaotically multi-tasking and racing the clock every day to jam in all of their tasks on the overflowing to-do lists. Here is my response: if the fear of poor results are what keeps you from hiring talent, then hire better talent who can match your results, or surpass your results.
You can wear yourself out running the marathon to your destination (only to collapse when you get there) or you could use your car to drive you there. Not only will you arrive much faster, but you’ll be rested when you get there. Okay, so the challenge here again is having the cash flow to support the new hires. (Yes, that car needs gas and of course gas costs money.)
a. Apply for a bank loan. As simple as this may sound, many small businesses have not fully explored what their banks (and other banks) can offer to supply the needed cash flow to grow. The plan many small business owners have about their cash flow is to wait until an increase of revenues comes in to use that surplus to fund for growth. Except, when you are in a hurry to get to where you need to go, you just need to borrow that gas money so you can get going. For many small business owners the concept of borrowing money to fund business growth is a scary jump that they are simply not comfortable with. Ahhh, here it is. An opportunity to get out of your comfort zone!
b. Re-distribute the budget. Take a hard look at your monthly profit and loss statements. Engage an admin person on your team to price shop those expenses that are commodities. Evaluate your other expenses and run the numbers to find out what the true ROI (return on investment) has been in the last 6 months. Cut out or prune back from those categories that came in on the lowest 20% of ROI producing expenditures.
c. Investigate your county and state resources. There are many resources for different types of businesses. Here are two local ones to look into that may be a good fit for your business: Bucks County Economic Development Center and Pennsylvania Career Link.
d. Offer shares of stock. Finding higher talent can mean simply outsourcing your projects. But, for those business owners who are looking for key players to grow with your company consider offering shares of stock. This not only offsets the lower pay, but it also attracts a more results driven, long term oriented, high performer.
Strategy 3: Prune back. Growing your business to the next level often entails eliminating your bottom 20% of product or service offerings. Think of it as shedding the dead weight. Landscaping needs regular pruning to flourish and grow — so do businesses. You want to channel your time, energy, resources and focus to the products, services and projects that yield your greatest margins. If you’re a service business that means you need to consider firing your bottom 20% of clients (your level D clients) in order to deliver better services to your A and B level clients. Drop the products or projects whose profit margins fall in the bottom 20%.
Strategy 4: Add a new spin. Just as the weather is always changing, the needs of your market changes as well. Spend the extra time you have (from pruning back) to get to know the profile and needs of your ideal market at a deeper level. How can you deliver your services to them in a more meaningful way? What new product or service can you offer to your “A” clients?
If you’ve gotten to this final paragraph I want to congratulate you for doing more than 90% of today’s small business owners. You are among the top 10% for taking time to read this business growth article. Taking charge of your business however, reads easier than it is.
Now that you understand these 4 strategies what are you going to do about it today?
Statistics say that people forget 50% of what they just learned by end of day. Then they forget 50% of that by the end of the next day. At that rate, if you wait a few weeks to act on anything you just read you may only remember 5%. My final challenge to you is to implement these 4 tactics. Business growth doesn’t happen from wishing for it, complaining about it or thinking about it. Business growth happens from sound, strategic planning and then implementation.
Business growth expert Yoon Cannon helps entrepreneurs create thriving 6, 7, and 8 figure businesses. Yoon has started, developed and sold 3 businesses herself, and so understands the unique challenges today’s business owners face on a daily basis. She has also trained and coached thousands of professionals in the service industry on marketing, productivity, leadership development and business management. Ms. Cannon continues to speak and be published. o receive free resources visit: www.paramountbusinesscoach.com.