Opportunity Doesn’t Knock Every Day. Is This the Right Time for a Growth Plan?
It’s exciting! Looks like we can go without masks in most environments. And rumor has it that this summer is going to be a really, really busy one for Cape Cod. All good news and it’s prompting most of us to figure out how to grab our share of success. What will we do to make our business look like it used to?
We’d like to introduce another option: create a plan that will exponentially grow your business. You probably think we’re crazy but when you take a step back and really think about it, for many businesses, the market is ripe. Yes, last year may have held you back from increasing market share, creating new offerings or even totally rethinking your business plan. That may be but does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a growth plan? The answer: Nope!
How could this even be possible? Think about it:
- Consumers have moved to smaller retailers and services closer to their homes. This local focus is not going to go away in the short-term. Our community wants to help our small businesses.
- We are all ripe for innovation. We are hungry to see new things, try new services, shift our perspective. Covid has created so many new work and life behaviors, many of which are prime targets for innovation.
Obviously, the last thing any of us wants to do right now is jeopardize our business. If you do your homework that won’t happen. So, here are some ways to determine if a growth plan is right for you:
- You want it. You’re excited about the challenge of a launch. You remember your original vision for this business when you started—it was larger, it was more exciting, it was energizing. But don’t feel bad if you don’t want to be larger. We mentor clients all the time who do not want to deal with employees, they don’t want to oversee a larger enterprise. They’re growing a bit each year, they’re profitable and they love it. If that’s you then you can stop reading.
- You are able to rely on others. You have an employee(s) that you can count on, who can manage the current load as you expand. Importantly, they too are excited about the prospect of more business and the inherent opportunities to advance their careers.
- You are financially prepared. That doesn’t mean that you have all the money you’ll need. What it does mean is that you do a good job of tracking your financials, you have a history of growth, you know how to manage your cash flow. With that as the foundation, you can develop a business plan that banks will look positively on as they consider a loan.
- Your customers want more—product, additional services, faster delivery, etc. Know why they love you and be careful to leverage that love. These are the people that want you to succeed. What’s a relevant and compelling extension of your current offering? What’s the next great location so your offering reaches more people?
- You are outgrowing yourself. You have too many new customers (yes, that is happening) and you’re working 24/7. The market is ready for more from you. And to top it off, you’re tired and if you’re going to work 24/7 it’s all about new opportunities.
- Opportunity just knocked on your door. Another business moved out of a perfect location or a competitor wants to sell. You may not have ever considered any of this but you know what? It could be a great idea. Be open.
So, if the opportunity or the rationale for a growth plan is there, how do you ensure that you’re successful at this initiative? It’s going to take excellent thinking and planning. Start by defining what success looks like for you. Think out a couple of years and visualize your business, your employees, your financials and most importantly, your life. Take a breath and take your time to do your own self-assessment. Write it down so you can always refer back to this vision.
- Get down to work: conduct a SWOT analysis on your business and your market. What is this analysis telling you about the strength of your business and the market in general? The weaknesses? Use this analysis to identify the potential risks and avoid them as you go along. You may think your customers want this new initiative but make sure the demand is there—42% of businesses cite a lack of need/demand for their failure. Know what you’re getting into. Don’t just assume. (NOTE: if you are unsure of how to do a SWOT analysis, get in touch with SCORE and we’ll help you do the analysis).
- Develop a plan: determine not only your new initiatives but also the potential revenue, profit, the costs to launch and how you’ll market all of this. As part of this plan, set both short-term and long-term goals. Yes, they are a guess but based on your expertise, they are an educated guess. Does this effort require a new business model? Uncover new ways to increase your profitability—makes no sense to work harder for the same margins of profitability. As you plan, make informed decisions—not knee-jerk reactions. Figure out when you’ll need to add new team members, when you’ll need more equipment, another loan or a new location. When it happens, none of this should be a surprise.
- Engage in iterative planning. Think of your business plan as a living document. Some things will be right on target but more likely is that there will be changes. You will need to adapt your plan as you gain new information, recognize market changes and consumer trends. Working with the right information ensures success.
- Know if you’re succeeding. How will you measure your success both long-term and short-term? There is nothing like having a short-term goal that you must meet to keep you motivated. It’s all good. If you’re not making that goal, why? And how will you fix it? Read the results and proactively make the necessary changes.
Do it! This is an unusual time. Don’t pass on an opportunity to grow. Others will do it if you don’t so take the time to determine if this might be right for you. You’ll do great!