There is no one size fits all strategy for small business, but there are a few components of successful strategies that you can implement. Whether you are just starting your business or looking to move in a new direction, keeping strategy on the top of your mind is key to success.
Know what your company is all about. You’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs skip this and have trouble reaching their ideal customers. Important questions to ask yourself are:
Why did you get into this?
Who are you trying to help?
What is the problem you help them solve?
How do you do it better than anyone else?
These items will drive every other aspect of your business. If the rest of your business is not consistent with the answers to these questions, you will find that your marketing, operations, processes and customer service are all disjointed and confusing. You may want to combine these into a mission and vision statement, so your employees, strategic partners and customers are clear on your big picture. A lack of clarity can limit how far and how clearly your message gets out and slow growth. Once you have clearly answered the questions above, build your products, services and marketing messages around those answers.
Sell, Sell, Sell. You may have heard the saying “revenue cures everything”. If you’re an entrepreneur, you always must be focused on revenue, always focused on sales, even if you have someone else on your team doing the sales for you. More sales means more revenue which means more cash flow to keep your business growing. Don’t worry about having lots of inventory on hand before you start selling or doing a lot of volume right away. Build up steadily, provide great service, get testimonials and referrals
Know your numbers. Another common saying in the entrepreneur community, but staying on top of your revenue, profit and cash flow will pay huge dividends in the future. Your financial numbers are a great scorecard to help you understand if your current marketing, sales and operations efforts are working the way you want them. This also allows you to take advantage of new opportunities when they pop up without taking excessive financial risk.
Recognize when you can’t do it all yourself. A key part of any business strategy is to start thinking about the day that you can’t accomplish it all by yourself. Have a plan to bring on help before you find yourself overwhelmed. This may be as simple as outsourcing your bookkeeping, accounting or marketing. It could be as involved as hiring full time employees or managers. The important thing is to identify the metrics that will tell you it’s time to get help and knowing your financial numbers well enough to know how much additional revenue your business will need to bring in to account for the new salaries and expenses, as well as how much additional profit you can make by having additional members on your team.
Finally, don’t forget to assess how your strategy is going and if it’s bringing you closer to your goals. Refine your processes, cut unnecessary expenses, and reorganize your team if you find that you aren’t reaching the objectives you are shooting for. Business strategy is never static or automatic. We don’t just set it and forget it. It takes constant assessment and adjustment of our day-to-day operations to ensure that they are aligned with our strategy. Sometimes, due to changes in the market or our competition we find we need to adapt our strategy or even adopt a completely new strategy to continue to grow in a new environment. No matter what strategy you choose for your business, staying conscious about your goals and taking actions consistent with achieving them will help set you up for success.