So you have been running your small or medium business for a year or so and you’re doing well. Maybe you have a bit of money in the bank and want to branch out? Or perhaps you don’t have as much money in the bank and want to grow your client base. Possibly you have just hit that sweet spot of fluency and are craving that challenge and friction entrepreneurs thrive off. Whatever your reasons, you know it is time to grow your business. Right?
Us GrowTraffic folks are SEO consultants, which means we have helped our fair share of businesses grow online (and offline-we can’t help ourselves, we’re passionate!). We have put out heads together and come up with the 5 most important first steps to take when deciding how to grow your business.
This sounds so obvious but it is a step many people overlook. Before you know where you want to go, you need to know where you are, and where you have been.
Check your current financial situation. How much is in the bank? How much are you paying out? what is your pipeline looking like? You might be thinking ‘how could I possibly run a business without knowing this stuff like the back of my hand?’ but a lot of entrepreneurs tell us they are too busy to really have a good grip on this stuff.
If the choice is between a profit and loss spreadsheet or fulfilling a customer order, most will put the customer first. If you have been doing that, now is the time to pull your head out of the sand and take a good look. And don’t just look at the last few months. Look at how your business has grown since you started.
Try thinking about the wider picture. Do you know everything you can about your clients? Have you asked them what they think of your business? They are the best people to give you honest feedback and will probably have the best ideas about how you can expand or add to your service or offering.
By figuring out what you have done well and what hasn’t gone so well will help to reveal how you can push your business forward and how much success you can handle.
Picture your success
Now you know where you are and where you came from you need to think about where you want to go.
What does the next stage of success look like to you?
It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you dare to dream of where you really want to be in 20 or 30 years’ time. So break it down. Where do you want to be in the next 5 years? It’s nigh on impossible to accurately plan any further into the future; anything could happen between now and then that will affect your business. (Look at President Trump, for example. No one could have predicted that 10 years ago.)
Write down what your client list will look like, what your turnover will be, what your staff force will be like, what your service offering involves.
Now work backwards and plan your moves.
Plan your success
Whether you use SMART, GOSPA, or SWOT, you need to do a proper plan. The back of a fag packet is great for quick ideas, and we have all read articles about an entrepreneur who made a zillion quid off a business planned on the back of a fag packet. Its rubbish. Don’t believe it. You can’t wing this. A proper strategy, with a thorough analysis of your opportunities, weaknesses, and targets is the only path to success.
Without it, you leave yourself open to too many risks.
Plan each step to achieve the end goal. If you want to bring a new product line, you need to know if your customers actually want it, where you can source the product from, how you can fund it, and how much you might sell it for. All that requires research.
Keep asking yourself those magic questions-how, why, who, when, what, and where.
Once you have SMART targets, SWOT analysis or both, you need to plan your new service, proposition, or whatever it is your masterplan contains. How will you actually deliver it? Granulate your new proposition so you can see exactly what needs to happen once you have achieved your goal. Too many entrepreneurs are the victims of their own success. Growth is great, but you need to have the resources to cope with it once you get it.
Work your network
You now know what you want to do. You have weighed up the pros and cons, figured out how you will handle all that extra business, and have a path to success.
The next thing you should be considering is who can help you. No one works in a vacuum, even if you work alone. Reach out to past colleagues, friends, and family and talk about your ideas. They are the best people to give you honest feedback and suggest issues or opportunities you might not have thought of.
Linkedin is fine, but it is no substitute for actual face to face networking. Websites like Eventbrite and Meetup have local listing for local interest groups you never knew existed. They are a great way to increase your circle or clients, advisors, suppliers, and friends.
If you already engage an SEO consultant, have a chat with them to see how they can help. Any good SEO consultancy worth their salt has a huge network of people they can draw upon.
And don’t be put off by how scary networking can be. Take a deep breath, picture your success, and take the plunge.
Just do it!
There is a time to plan (and at GrowTraffic we love a good plan) and there is a time for action. Your plan will never be perfect so don’t delay acting until it is.
We have seen so many entrepreneurs with an amazing plan which we know we will work…but they haven’t done anything with it.
If the task seems too overwhelming, go back to number 3 and break down your steps even further. Baby steps still propel one forwards.
Want some help?
We are SEO Consultants in Lancashire, Yorkshire and everywhere in between. We are ready to talk to you about how to grow your business online, be it through blogging, website optimisation, link building, or social media management (or all of the above!) We love helping people and would be happy to talk to you. Feel free to get n touch for a free, no-obligation consultation.