There are healthy ways to grow a business and then there are some not-so-healthy ways; shortcuts and trends that could hurt you over time.
This article is going to focus on four (4) simple ways you can ensure you have a healthy growing company.
Let’s start with the basics…
Maintaining good books. The accounting books are the heartbeat of the business. If you don’t listen to the beat, you will go off the rails; it’s not a matter of if but when it will happen.
Maintaining good, correct / balanced books should be a top priority. Review the reports routinely and communicate findings with your bookkeeper. What have you accomplished in this time frame, what is happening in the business at that point, and is this accurately reflected in the books; are the books correct? If you are developing a new product line, the cost for that needs to be kept together in its own account so you know how much it costs to make that product and set accurate and competitive pricing. It will also let you know if this product will make you money or cost you in development or distribution.
There is more to learn from your P&L Statement then just your total sales and if they are up or down. The gross profit number tells you how your business is doing. This number is the product sales less the cost of the product. Are you making a solid profit to cover your bills, keep the office running and pay the employees on time?
Cash flow is also something you need to monitor. Are you collecting all of the money owed to you? Are you saving for taxes? Are you saving for a down-turn or slow time in the business? Are you saving for growing your company?
Set appointments with yourself and/or bookkeeper to review your books, how things are getting entered, and how this interprets to success or room for improvement.
Having a road map. When you go on vacation what is the first thing you do? – Pick where you want to go and lay out a plan to get there. Growing your business is done the same way.
Where do you want the company to be in 5 years from now and how are you going to get there? Set check-ins with yourself and/or someone else to make sure you stay on the correct road to reach your goals. In other words, have a tool to measure accountability. Remember, there may be detours on the road you originally mapped out, and that’s okay. So, you need a backup plan or contingency to help you get back on path and make it to the end without altering your main goal and mission. Ask yourself, “are the processes in my business the best way to be doing business right now?”
Diversify – Growing your business by coming up with different services you can sell is another great way to grow your business.
Look at a coffee shop. Most start with just a good coffee they know will sell. Then they add different types of coffee, coffee blends, new drink options, and then move into food, coffee cups, other coffee related products & gifts, etc. Be the one stop shop for your industry.
Customers/Clients – The most important part of your business is your customers. Without them you wouldn’t have a business.
Make sure your customers get the best of you; your best service, your best products, your best solutions. This way they keep coming back for more and will refer you to their colleagues, friends and family. The best referrals come from happy customers who value your brand, not because it was the cheapest, but because it was the best solution for them at a time they needed it.
Talk with your top 5 customers and ask them what they like about working with you and what they don’t like about working with you. Don’t take it personally. Look at these comments as new goals for you to work toward. This will also help you find your ideal customers and/or define your niche.