Every would-be entrepreneur dreams of running his or her own successful business. But of course, those who achieve it don’t stop dreaming. With the new enterprise up and running, business owners have a single thought – growth. You might not have any intention of creating the next Google or General Motors, but at the same time, when did you ever see a business plan that didn’t forecast higher sales in year two than year one? Talking about increasing sales through better marketing, new product development and so on is fine as far as it goes. But in order to deliver, there are some pragmatic measures to put in place.
First and foremost, growth costs money. Even if you’ve got a full order book and a database full of happy customers, that doesn’t necessarily equate to cash in the bank. Examine cash flow very closely and make certain you have the capacity to fund your growth plans. If you haven’t, but the business is genuinely doing well, there will be plenty of finance options open to you. The key thing is to have them lined up and in your back pocket well in advance, as opposed to phoning around in a panic when you suddenly realise you’ll struggle to pay salaries this month.
Speaking of salaries, it is often said that a business’s people constitute its most valuable asset. Certainly, they are the one thing that the competition cannot simply replicate. If your business has started on a very small scale, however, suddenly recruiting staff is a huge step to take. For businesses taking on a full-time workforce, you will need to take time to put together an employee handbook at the outset. It might seem like a complex step, but it is so much easier to do it before you start recruiting than retrospectively. Also consider other alternatives, however. This is the age of the flexible workforce, and if demand is likely to have peaks and troughs, either freelancers or perhaps zero hour contracts might be a better way to proceed.
Growth is not always about doing more. Sometimes it can be achieved by doing the same things better. Now your business is running successfully, take a step back and critically appraise every process, from the initial customer contact to banking the invoice payment. Chances are, you’ll find a dozen things that could be done better, faster or cheaper.
When you carry out the above appraisal, you will most likely be looking at a number of IT-related processes. The thing about technology is that it changes in the blink of an eye. Of course, you can’t constantly update your systems, but by staying appraised of the latest developments, you can spot those innovations that would make the biggest difference.
As your business grows, so does the importance of “sticking to the knitting.” There is a growing school of thought that unless your business has expertise in HR, IT and finance, for example, then these should be delegated to a third party provider. That way, you spend less time worrying about peripheral activities and more on what you do best – making your business even more successful.
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