Every business started small, but starting small doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. How do you grow your business? How do you get more clients or make more money? Here are a couple of simple tips to help you make the best of 2014:
Do you have a financial goal for your business? Whether you’re estimating how many new clients you expect or anticipating new employees, setting goals will help you stay on track. Don’t be afraid to dream big—if an annual goal seems too daunting, break it down to tackle it one month at a time. Goals are important because they help you understand your business.
Create a Business plan
Writing a business plan is a crucial step toward achieving real growth. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you know what steps you need to get there?
There are a million different ways to make a business plan, but the basic models have the following:
- Executive Summary—a brief summary of the entire document. It’s helpful to write this segment last, once you know what details to stress.
- Company description—describe your company, the products that it offers, and your goals.
- Staff summary—this segment should define your company’s management structure, as well as give brief biographies of people holding important managerial positions.
- Market analysis—use this segment to describe the market niche your product is intended to fill.
- Financials—the least fun bit of the business plan is also one of the most important. You’ll use this section to describe your business’s growth, predict operating costs, and annual potential.
It is a lot of work, but you’ll be glad once you’ve done it. It took me and two employees nearly a full month of effort to create the business plan for ClientTickler. All that effort paid off, though—now I know where ClientTickler stands, and where it needs to go.
Learn to Delegate
It’s your business, but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself. You could spend your whole day handling simple-but-important busywork if you’re not careful.
When I was just starting ClientTickler, I thought that I had to be personally involved in every aspect of the business. I ran myself ragged trying to do tech support, customer service, finance, accounting, management—in trying to do everything, I wound up not accomplishing much. When I was able to hire staff to take care of specific areas of the business (say, Tech Support), I was able to focus on what I wanted to accomplish. Identify competent employees, and give them more responsibility. Train them properly and you’ll be able to rely on them to handle the drudgery, leaving you free to focus on growing your business.
Setting up processes that can be easily duplicated will save you time and money. Don’t under estimate the value of having everything organized and easily assessable for your employees.
A key corollary to delegation is learning to prioritize your time and effort. You want to hand off some work to your employees, but it’s crucial to ensure that work “matches their pay grade.” You don’t want to trust your business financials to the entry-level intern. Identify the work that demands your attention, and delegate as much of the non-essential work as you can stand.
If you want to succeed, you shouldn’t merely try to imitate what worked for somebody else. Factors vital to the success of another product might not have as much effect on you and your company. If you want to get ahead, you’re going to want to make sure your team can think outside the box.
Ideas come from all kinds of different backgrounds, so make sure that you and your employees complement one another without being too similar. Too many like-minded people can lead to a stagnant work environment.
Even with a diverse, creative staff, going your own way is risky. That’s one of the reasons we see businesses working so hard to mimic the success of others—it’s safe to follow the leader. You’re going to have to take chances if you want to succeed. You can’t avoid risk, but you can mitigate it and learn from it. When something goes wrong, take a few hours to really debate why things didn’t turn out like you expected. Learning to fail is the key to success.
–Create a business plan
–Create a team of people who think outside the box.
President of ClientTickler and Founder of Legal Administrative Services