Charltons has worked with a range of clients over the past thirty years, and we’ve seen many businesses that didn’t understand the importance of growth. We've met business owners have said to us that they’re happy with their store or their café or their agency, they love their clients and they wouldn’t want anything more.
That’s a great situation to be in. The problem is if you’re just content, you may be a little short sighted. It relies on nothing changing, it relies on your products or services always being needed and always being popular. It relies on your competitors never taking a long look at your customers and wondering how it would feel if they took a few away from you. Achieving stability is never a matter of standing still. Any market is a moving target, and if you aren’t prepared to move with it, you could find yourself out of customers, out of business and without an asset to show for it.
For any small business, the most important pathway to maintaining success is through carefully planned and managed growth. That’s a fact, clear and simple. Whether your business is aiming to increase its customer base or establish new product areas, most of your future plans will involve a growth strategy. Creating that strategy is now easy task, and it does require a lot of insight into your own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a few tips that we’ve picked up around developing a growth plan:
1. Understand how you’ve grown already
This is important. You need to understand where you’ve come from so you can grasp where you’re going to go next. Which of your products have spurred your initial growth? Learning this kind of information is going to require an open mind. Talking with your clients and customers and asking them the important questions could help you gain a valuable understanding. Your data can also tell you a lot. When you come up with an answer, that is your growth catalyst.
2. Work out where to grow next
Once you’ve gained an understanding of your growth catalyst, you need to explore the ways you can improve or build on it as you expand. There are a range of options for you here, depending on your products or services. Could what you’re offering be modified to make it appeal to a new market or audience? Could you generate a new product that will provide new features that your customers need?
3. Take stock of your resources
If you want to grow, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of the tools and resources you have available to you. These range from your staff to your physical space to your own availability. Do you have what it takes to support new business and new clients? If you skip this step and start to grow without understanding your level of readiness, you could be in serious trouble. Don’t be the chicken shop that ran out of chicken on their first day.
4. Research new technology
We’re living in an incredible time of disruption and technological advancement. There are apps and software suites available right now (many of them for free) that can cut down business processes and streamline the way you run your company. Some of this will be accounting and bookkeeping software such as Xero, that can make tracking your finances and cashflow a breeze. Some of it will be new CRMs, letting you manage your business’ leads and accounts with ease. Even hardware has changed - you can now take orders, manage inventory and accept payments using just an iPad! Ask yourself whether some of this technology could make it easier for your business to grow and succeed.
Working through the above questions can get you thinking seriously about a growth plan. What is just as important is finding the correct partners and advisors to work with you as you expand your business. Here comes the hard sell. At Charltons we aren’t just accountants, we are also experienced business advisors. With our years of experience we have helped thousands of clients to build and grow successful businesses, and we understand the best ways to do that. We can talk you through the topics we’ve covered here, take an in-depth look at your future plans and make sure you’re ready to take the plunge with a growth strategy. Every sports team will have a qualified coach to help them reach their potential. It makes sense that a business should too!