Rule 1 in business: nothing stays the same. As soon as you think you’ve got everything under control, something unexpected comes along and – boom – it’s all change. Of course this isn’t bad, far from it, for if your business is going to grow, things will need change and, by default, won’t stay the same; but at the time it can certainly feel as though you’re in a boxing ring with a prize fighter. Continuous jabs, a few body blows, and the view of the floor coming ever closer before you manage to get in a punch or two of your own to regain your position.
So how can you roll with the punches , or at least anticipate them, as your business grows?
Here’s 5 tips to help.
1. Keep your skills up to date. I spent a number of years working with teenagers, helping them to start their own businesses. One of their primary concerns was that potential clients wouldn’t take them seriously as they were young. I suggested they turn that objection on its head – and explain that their knowledge was likely to be more up to date than someone who’d been in the industry for a while, and I think this is a bona fide argument. When was the last time you updated your skills? Went on a training course? Learnt a new skill that was either relevant to your industry or to running a business? Joined a membership organisation and attended some masterclasses? How easy it would it be for you to take on a cutting edge project from a new client, that could take your business to the next level? If you can’t honestly say ‘no problem’ to that, then get booked on some training today.
2. Know your competition. Just as your business changes, your competitors businesses change too. How recently did you last check out what they’re up to? Could you confidently reel off their strengths and weaknesses, and use them to build your own business? As your business grows, it becomes more important than ever that you know what the competition is up to so that you can grab a further foothold in the market. Don’t get caught out by using guesswork instead of doing some hard work.
3. Do you really know what your customers want? As your business changes and grows, so do the needs of your customers. And so does everything else about them. Keeping up to date with them, anticipating their every move, and being one step ahead of them is critical if you want to continue to sell to them, and other similar customer groups. as your business expands and develops. Make sure you know everything about them before you start on the next part of your growth plan.
4. Continuously update your business plan. A business plan is a living document. It’s not something that you write as part of the Things You Do When Starting A Business list, and then put on a shelf and forget about it. It is a plan, something that aids the way and helps you to set clear targets and goals. As your business grows, your business plans should reflect that. Having a regularly updated document packed with current strategies, tactics and forecasts will really help you to be aware of potential challenges, and how to deal with them before they happen.
5. Is your Unique Selling Point still unique? Along with updating your business plan, you should also regularly reassess your USP because if your plan changes, chances are your USP will need some minor – or even major – tweaks too. When you’re clear on your USP, it shines through your marketing, and that acts as a beacon to customers. If you’re planning to grow, or already in a growth phase, be sure that your USP accurately reflects your company’s purpose.