No matter what type of business you’re in, your ultimate goal is always to succeed and make a profit. You have started your own business maybe because you wanted to be your boss or because you were passionate about your idea. It could also be that you just wanted freedom from a monotonous routine. But sadly, success is not only being determined by the reason behind starting your own company. No business comes with a fixed instruction manual. Success is everyone's dream, and to get there, concrete effort and focus should be done on oneself and one’s people—the two go together. There are also proven strategies for every type of business that can guarantee you a reasonably good footing in the market.
Each new business tends to go through a number of hiccups before getting on the right track. Some of these include:
1. Lead Generation - In business, you cannot rely on word of mouth alone. Your business needs to have customers and this is possible only through a solid marketing strategy for lead generation.
2. Cash Flow - No business has an unlimited supply of money. Each needs to learn to manage what they have and work with it. The idea is to get every penny’s worth in all transactions.
3. Time Management - In essence, for every business time is money. You cannot afford time waste. Time management skills are not well defined and sometimes missing in start-ups. This is a lesson learned after the first BOOM of a busy period and hopefully doesn't become a reason for failure.
4. Team Management - going to the office daily and completing your workload is not enough. It is not just about “working-in” but also about “working on” your business.
5. Clarity And Direction - When you work as a group you need to give clear directions. This will ensure that all the people in your team know what needs to be done, how it needs to be accomplished, who will do it and most importantly when the task has to be completed.
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Above we discussed the 5 main problem areas for any business. A good strategy to success would be to just remove or minimize these issues. Here is a list of 5 key growth strategies for every business no matter what type.
1. Effective Lead Generation - You cannot sell your product to every Tom, Dick, and Harry because no two people have the same requirements. It will be a waste of both time and money to sell your idea to people who have no use for it. To begin with design an attractive product and keep its pricing competitive.
Now that the product is designed to perfection, a good strategy would be to first identify those people who would benefit the most from your product or service. For this create a suitable customer profile or persona and identify those people who match it. Pass on this information to the sales team so they can personalise the sales pitch to attract them.
2. Manage Cash Flow - Cash-flow management is critical to every business, big or small. As a business owner, you need to completely understand your cash requirements. Plan and budget for each and every expected expense. Keep some aside for the unexpected rainy days also. Don’t spend everything you earn on expanding your business but invest a portion of it for additional returns. While investing, make an informed decision and don’t just bank on your gut feeling. In case you are not sure, talk to financial and investment experts for proper guidance. Most importantly, eliminate wastage by employing lean and six sigma strategies.
3. Efficient Time Management - Most of the work that happens in an office is regular and routine work. Surprisingly, most of it can be automated and yet we fail to do so. Automation is important in order to save time. Again, using lean and six sigma strategies identify wasteful activities and eliminate them. Remember it is not necessary for you to do everything. As a new business or a start-up, doing everything on your own is not advisable. Outsource activities that you are not well equipped to handle like IT and finance & investments. This will give you more time to concentrate on other more relevant aspects of your business.
4. Make a Good Team - Business is all about the hard-working people behind it. It is never a one-man effort. Employ suitably qualified people. Remember when you are just starting out you can’t always get the best so go for the next most feasible option. Give people, who meet your criteria, a chance. Don’t forget they too might be starting out. The adage that experienced people are the best choice does not always prove true.
For all you know, their experience might make them set and rigid leaving no room for flexibility, many times when we have looked to hire staff the fresh ideas of intellects who have not worked in a monotonous environment have proved more valuable than that of people who have had experience with Microsoft, HP and Dell.
Having said that, a good mix of experienced, in-between and bright-eyed fresh blood is wise. Motivate them to “work on” the business. Every person goes to work but very few people decide to “work on” it. By this, I mean improving processes within the company instead of just customer-focused work. Success comes only when you step out of your comfort zone and try to be different. Encourage out-of-the-box thinking and be flexible to change and innovate.
5. Clear-Cut Direction - There is no room for ifs & buts in business. If you have planned well, you know what needs to be done. Don’t just jump into the thick of things, plan and strategise for it. Keep your goals simple. Make sure you don’t complicate matters by splitting hairs. Let others be the judge of the smaller aspects of the business. It is the big picture that matters. Give clear directions about who is responsible for what, when and how things need to be done and when they need to commence and stop.
Measure at every stage in order to be on top of things. If there is an area where you are lagging, you can either pull in more people to lend a helping hand or identify the problem and eliminate it. It is good to have standard operating procedures because they act as a framework within which the work needs to be completed.
The Final Word
Plan for the worst, always hope for the best, business is anything but predictable. It’s better to be ready rather than be caught unaware. Stay good!