Businesses don’t just die an immediate automatic death, no they don’t, they die gradually and silently and it is so because there is a time lag between your actions and in-actions that is causing a problem and when that problem becomes obvious, first to you and then to the public. But there are implementable strategies that will ensure that your business does not go that way.
Even if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there. Every small business wants to grow into a big one someday. So consider these three key growth strategies.
1 Establish Monthly Strategy Sessions
By small business, I don’t mean the guys with 50 or so staff. I mean the guys with between 2 and 15 staff, if you have more you can still implement this.
These sessions are where you and your entire team come together every month to review, plan and decide on the long and short term goals of your business and how to go about achieving them and also asses the results of all you did within the month, what worked and what did not work, why they did not work, lessons learnt and plans on how to do better in the following months.
Look at what you are doing and not doing and their respective implications, which will enable you, decide on next line(s) of action. No aspect of your business should be overlooked in these sessions no matter how insignificant you think that aspect is, if you think any aspect is insignificant then why bother to have it in your business in the first place.
Having these regular monthly sessions will enable you keep your entire business in-view and measure your progress monthly.
I make the following suggestions, (you may have a better plan)
The sessions should be held last week of every month. If you ask me I will take a Thursday or Friday within that week
The session should be a whole day affair, so you have enough time to discuss every detail.
There should be an agenda covering all aspects or operations of your business.
Provide lunch and in-between small-small refreshments during these sessions. For people like me food can be a great motivation at times and I mean good food (it may make your people look forward to such days and that is good for your business)
The day for the session should be announced say three days before and inform your staff to be ready with their contributions and whatever they need to bring to the meeting.
Have a 10-15 minutes breaks say every 2 hours.
Ensure to make it a friendly atmosphere where people will feel free to contribute without fear of victimization.
Ensure everyone contributes
2 Continuous Innovation of your Business Processes
First let me try and simplify two key words here; Innovation and Process. Innovation means improvement while Process means procedure or practice. So that becomes, ‘’Continuous Improvement of your Business Procedure or Practice’’.
Simply put continuously improve the way you do things in your business.
It is through your business processes that you create value for your customers and your customers are only willing to part with their money in exchange for perceived value.
Let me break it down for you; assuming you have a bakery and make breads, your customers will only pay you for the bread they are getting from you, they are not going to pay you for having a fancy oven or for having a clean bakery (which is a good thing) or for any other thing for that matter except for bread. And the bread you sale comes into being through some processes, so continuous review and improvement of those processes will result in better bread which translates to better value for your customers and consequently better revenue for your business.
Same applies to businesses that offer services, you need to regularly review and always look out for ways to improve your processes for client acquisition, client engagement and service delivery.
You can try this simple, continuous improvement process:
Step 1: Select the aspect of your business that you wish to improve.
Step 2: Determine what the process is for what you have selected. For example if you wish to improve the way you acquire new leads or the way you make bread or any other thing for that matter, determine what your current process is for doing that. If there is no process in place, create one. If there is go-to step 3.
Step 3: Analyse each step of the process and determine how effective and efficient each step or the entire process is.
Step 4: Relying on your analysis of each step of the process, ask yourself where you can and need to improve the process. Only change one thing at a time.
Step 5: Test what you have changed (this may take a day, a week, a month, or … it all depends on your kind business)
Step 6: Analyse the result of your test.
Step 7: If the results of your test are positive, start using your new process or system. If the results are not positive, go back to step 4, and do this over and over again, continuously, in every part of your business.
3 Create Systems
“Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him. Significance comes when he developed leaders to do great things for him, but legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him.” – John C. Maxwell
A system is a set of processes that can run without you or a method of solving a repeated business issue in a strategic and effortless way or we can simply say it is your business’s unique way of doing things.
Systems are what define the difference between a business owner and a self-employed person.
A self-employed person owns a job. A business owner owns a system and then hires competent people to operate the system. Put another way: the self-employed person is the system that is why he cannot leave.
A business owner can go on vacation forever because they own a system, not a job. If he is on vacation the money still comes in. but if a self-employed person goes away for an extended period, the chances are there would be no business to return to when he gets back.
Even if you’re just starting out in business, you need to get into a systems mindset long before you hire your first employee. It’s the key difference between being self-employed and being an entrepreneur.
Here are the qualities of a good system.
· It addresses a specific problem or business issue.
· It is automatic.
· Once created, a system does not require intensive thought or effort.
· It is a process or routine.
Let me use a real life example to explain this: I have said it before that I love good food and one of the restaurants I go to when there is need is Jevinik restaurant. Apart from their food which I consider good, Jevinik is a classic example of a business that has built world class systems.
Jevinik have restaurants all over Nigeria and whenever I go to any city I always look out for them. I have visited many of their restaurants in different cities and they are all the same, in terms of – look, feel and operations.
There is a particular soup I love eating there – native soup – the one with periwinkle (isam) and without leaf. No matter the particular restaurant I go to, this soup is always the same in look, taste, quality and quantity. The waiters always attend to me the same way, the managers are always on the ‘’shop floor’’ supervising, everything and I mean everything are all the same, even the tables and chairs.
Do you think this is a coincidence? No not at all, the owner(s) of Jevinik deliberately built an operating system for every aspect of their business; a system for preparing each particular food, a system for the waiters, a system for servicing customers, even a system for the car park attendants. And am very sure they have systems for all their back-office operations.
This is why any Jevinik out-let you go to, everything works the same like a clock work, even if you sack all the waiters and cooks in any out-let and replace them, the new ones will still offer the same predictable service because they will be operating the same Jevinik system. The point is that no matter who is operating the system the result will always be the same and it does not matter whether the owners are there or not, in fact the owners don’t need to be there, because they have built systems that is meant to run without them.
So go ahead today and create a system for everything you do in your business or your business’s unique way of doing things.
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