Growing a business is extremely rewarding; not just in the form of a return on financial investment, but a return of a completely different kind; a return that is down to hard work, perseverance and, quite often, endless nights of worrying about the next steps that face all entrepreneurs throughout their business life cycles.
But just what is it that keeps us awake at 4am?
In the next series of blogs, we speak to David Staveley, a member of the CFPro team whose career experience spans continents and industries and whose business acumen and expertise has been developed and built up out of his own experience of leading both listed and independent businesses, facilitating and spearheading change management initiatives, the introduction and development of new business management techniques and leading organisations, including a FTSE listed group, to next stage growth. He gives his take on some of the fundamental things that keep business owners and leadership teams up at night, and we address ways to overcome the worry, take action where action is required and provide helpful advice on how to move beyond the now and towards tomorrow.
In this blog, we look at worries associated with developing consistent brand awareness and how to build a strategy that leads to next-stage growth.
You’ve established your business, and you’ve survived. But your climate is changing. You’re probably starting to realise that, operationally, your systems and processes may not be secure enough for the long-run. You’ve also probably also realised that your business culture has changed; and you are now faced with operational issues that restrict your ability to access and provide critical information to key stakeholders in your business. You may not necessarily know what your next-step is and how you’re going to get there, and you’re probably asking the following questions:
- How do I get my business better known by others?
- How do I secure consistent sales & growth?
- How do I differentiate myself from my neighbours?
- Why am I working harder now but making less money?
- How do I get my operational systems to support my long-term business growth?
- How do I get access to the critical information I need with systems that don’t support it?
- How do I ramp up my Delivery to match the amount of business I’m securing?
- My sales are up, but so are my problems, and profits have all but disappeared. Why is that?
- I worry about late payments. They could ruin my business. There is so much risk in my business, but I don’t know how to manage and reduce it effectively. Where do I start?
It is amazing what bright ideas you have at 3 am – many of which are largely forgotten by 7am when you wake up! And while you’re trying to get back to sleep and calm your thoughts a little more, perhaps you want to try to visualise how you would like to see your business in 5 years’ time.
To calm yourself, adopt a positive attitude towards change and try to keep focussed. Smile inwardly in the thought that you’ll have the admiration of your peers when you realise this vision.
But now its daytime and you need to concentrate on how to get yourself there? For a start, ask yourself a key question.
Do you really know what market you are aiming for and what your prospective customers want? You need to be proactive and plan for the future and your customers’ future needs.
But a word of caution, don’t forget that when it comes to introducing a new product or service and anticipating clients’ future needs, it is almost as bad being too early as it is being too late. Be prepared and ready to expand your offering, but don’t rush. You must wait till the market is ready.
Many companies fight to be first to be second – let somebody else do the hard miles introducing a new concept, then rapidly ride their coat-tails.
The most important factor, which bears repetition, is that you are aware of what is going on in your marketplace including any disruptive concepts that may radically change that market – you don’t want to be known as the best manufacturer of buggy whips so be prepared to drop out-dated products or services when they have served their purpose.)
Getting your business better known by others
If you were to try to cover all the options, you would most likely be awake all night, but be reassured that there are a great number of possibilities depending on your particular business and circumstances.
The golden rule of growth is to know your business and its market; from your suppliers to end consumers (not forgetting your competitors); from trade shows and conferences to magazines, blogs and endorsements; and from “trade associations” and professional bodies to regulators. Everyone is a potential advocate or channel for advertising your business. So-called ‘big bucks advertising’ is rarely the answer for most of us. I remember a survey undertaken on the TV campaigns for the consumer goods we were selling in Canada. Our products were the most recognised brand and we were told we had the best adverts – despite not having undertaken any TV advertising. We had just taken the time to grow our brand through our broad based marketing and as a result, stood out from our competitors because we’d chosen to work within our market and use more appropriate promotion.
Focus on to whom you want to create awareness of your service or products and what channel is likely to impact on them. You may decide to grow your product reviews. Personal recommendations is always the best, especially where the target market is not enormous, so try to create a number of advocates for your services or products from IT suppliers to employees of target companies; from accountants to office suppliers; and from trade magazines and bloggers to other suppliers to your sector.
Make sure you have a clear concise message to communicate. An elevator pitch that others can recall and repeat is ideal as a starter. Then you need a concise story you can communicate if given a five minute slot to deliver it. Maybe, think about a business card that tells your story for you or carrying a simple brochure –that can easily be put in a pocket or purse.
CFPro have a team of business consultants, managements leaders and entrepreneurs who, throughout their own careers, have built their own businesses into successful, growing organisations. If you are ready for next-stage growth, and you want to work with a growth partner who understands your journey from the inside-out, then we need to talk. Get in touch with us today, to hear more about how we can help.