Keeping in step with last week’s business topic on the blog (read here) I thought I would give you some tips on growing your business this week.
At this point in the game you should have your product developed and understand which resources you can utilize to keep your margins tight and precise. Your branding and logo go hand in hand and locals and online followers are easily recognizing your business brand. Your social media vehicles are picking up some momentum. Customer service has been analyzed, policies in place, your team is capable of serving your customers with ease.
If you are at this point it is the time to dig a little deeper.
Tip #1 – Plan to Grow
Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now. Alan Lakein
You have to know what your vision is for the company. Where do you want to be in a year from now? Five years from now? Then you have to figure out how you are going to reach your goals.
For example, I wanted to grow our online business and had set a goal of how many packages we needed to send out to reach that goal. Once the goal was set I pulled my team together and we figured out what we needed to do to increase sales. The first thing we did was to constantly update our website. This has been helpful because our customers can shop from our inventory and can be assured they would get their product in less time because it isn’t on back-order or sold out. We also ramped up our social media postings, how we post and what we post. The images had to be eye-catching so people would pause and read what we wrote about our product. Lastly, we knew we needed to create a packing station in the store that was properly sized and organized so any employees packing and shipping could work quickly and efficiently. Once we had a game plan we broke down each individual item on our list and went to work to get things just right.
- Recognize the area(s) that need improvement to get you to your growth goals.
- Plan a date; monthly, quarterly or yearly by when you want to have met your growth goals.
- Determine what you need to do to make the goal happen
- Break down each goal you want to implement into manageable chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Rely on your team. They all have strengths, utilize what comes naturally for them and your job becomes easier.
- Oftentimes you have to act as if you are growing and the growth will come.
Tip #2 – Your Team
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Helen Keller
As you are growing your business it is not only important to understand the needs of the business but what you need in a team to help your business grow at the pace your goals have been set at. Make sure your employees are the right fit for the position. It took us a year at Farmhouse Frocks until my daughters and I knew which positions we excelled in. For example, Fee loves helping the customers and Syd is talented with our online studio. When I try my hand at sales the girls are inclined to send me to my office because they think I try to stuff the frocks down our customer’s throat. When Fee is helping a customer she comes from the vein of wanting to make the lady feel pretty and satisfied with her purchases. Fee instinctually knows how much to help a customer; when to ask the right question and when to step aside while the customer makes her choices. (I’m probably too excited to help and come across more salesy. Trust me when I say I have plenty of other responsibilities to help keep the frock wheel going around here.)
- When growing your business you simply can’t do everything on your own. When you know your employee’s strengths and trust them with their position they will out-perform your expectations.
- When I hire I look for emotionally healthy people who like to talk about visions and goals instead of people.
- We have monthly staff meetings and this is a place where I listen to what the employees' concerns are and we problem solve. Getting their feedback is valuable for the company. I find tidbits about each person on my team to praise and at our monthly meeting I'm liberal with my praises. We usually do character building activities at the team meetings as well. There are various leadership and character building programs out there you can use or you can come up with your own.
- Train your team well to be able to work their position. Along with training well, I've learned through experience that if you tell them your expectations and tell them your boundaries right from the beginning they won't think it as discipline later.
- Teach your team to become problem solvers. When they come to you with a complaint or problem they should have a solution to talk about too.
- Praise your team often.
Tip # 3 – Networking
Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come. Diane Helbig
Networking is an area that can be easily missed because we get too busy trying to establish our business or we might have insecurities, low confidence level, or some other character flaw. (All flaws can be rehabilitated and developed into positive character traits if one so desires. Personal development is a choice.)
- I like to walk with successful people. I find ways to network with them, maybe promoting their product on my social media or if invited to the same party I will seek them out and strike up a conversation with them. As you get to know each other you will seamlessly start to send referrals to each other.
- Asking successful people for advice is a great way to network. I have found that small business owners are very helpful with advice because they once were in the same shoes and had to ask advice from time to time.
- Trade shows are a wonderful way to network. They are hard work so have things planned out well before going. Once you are set up at the trade show make sure and schedule time away from your own booth to go mingle. Introduce yourself to other artisans, hand out your business card and take theirs. You never know when you can refer someone to them and hopefully they will return the favor from time to time.
- Social media. I always come back to social media. Creating momentum with your social media can be hard work, you have to create interesting content so people scrolling through their walls will stop and read. The opportunity with social media is limitless.
Tip # 4 – Bookkeeping
Get a really good bookkeeper unless this is an area you excel in yourself. (For me it was like spring cleaning my brain once I hired a bookkeeper. Once I didn’t have to worry about figuring out the numbers and could ask for specific reports I was able to put more effort in other parts of my company.)
- Make sure you know your margins.
- You want a monthly report on your stats.
- Make sure and look at every single transaction going through your bank account every single day.
- Match your inventory sheets and packing slips to invoices.
These detailed points are important to running a successful business.
Tip # 5 – Love What You Do
I couldn’t say it better than this quote by Maya Angelou.
You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you. Maya Angelou
- Don't be afraid to dig in and work.
- Ask for advice from time to time.
- Try new things and if they don’t work, move on.
- Lead by example for your team.
- It won't feel like work if you love what you’re doing. This is probably the most important tip I can give you.