Nurturing an idea to long-term success in business is an exciting challenge that keeps you on your toes. Grow too slowly and you risk losing the momentum; expand too quickly and it may mean that you’re struggling to meet demand. There’s no magic formula to help business owners guide their organizations through times of growth. However, there are a few key goalposts with which to measure your progress.
Your Choices are Guided by Cash Flow
It’s exciting to turn a profit for the first time. Once that milestone has been reached, however, successful business owners know to adopt new ways of charting their progress. It’s no longer a black-and-white binary about whether or not your business is viable. Instead, growth must be guided by your ability to both generate and manage money.
As your company expands, you’ll likely have your cash absorbed by a larger overhead. More inventory and storefronts are a good sign, but only if you’re growing in a sustainable way. Weekly cash flow reports can help you get a better grasp on how your money is being spent. By assessing your growth rate on a weekly basis, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about further expansions.
Your Focus is On Efficiency, Not Your Bottom Line
Cash is nice, but it isn’t everything. By focusing so narrowly on sales figures, you may miss the forest for the trees. After all, business growth isn’t just about increased profits – it’s also about improving your processes and finding new ways to increase your profit margins.
Want to make your organization more efficient? Identify tasks that overextend your employees and lead to burnout. Many new startups don’t have the cash to staff an entire customer service department. Instead, they task employees of all backgrounds and experience levels with helping out with administrative duties. Imagine how much more could get done around the office with a virtual receptionist covering the phones so your team can focus on what they do best!
You Nurture Customers Through the Buyer’s Journey
Attracting new customers is critical for growth, but not all customers are created equal. To be successful in the long term, you’ve got to identify the especially valuable customers and do all you can to retain them. Customer acquisition programs can help target the ideal customer and help your organization connect with them in meaningful ways.
Customer loyalty programs can help this process along, but many small businesses can’t afford to invest in freebies and coupons. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily have to spend money to make money in this area. A special VIP-only shopping night during the holiday season can help entice customers to return to your storefront, for instance, and costs you virtually nothing. Sneak previews of new products via email can also keep your company at the front of customer’s minds. Whatever your strategy, the fact that you’re so focused on the nurturing of customers is a good sign that growth is occurring!
You’re Rethinking How You Operate
Business growth requires careful planning and thoughtful considerations of the systems you already have in place. Scaling your operations will often mean revamping the way you’ve always done things. By carefully planning your investments in purchasing support systems, you can free up employees to work more efficiently.
Consider the ways in which your organization is slow or costly. It’s not always obvious at the beginning. Once you turn up your volume of sales, however, the weak points in your process will become clear. You’ll eventually hit a bottleneck and discover a break down in operations. Successful business owners know the importance of identifying these weak points before that break down occurs.
You’re Delegating More
In the early days of a new business, owners are jacks of all trades, wearing different hats every hour of the day. To manage and control a successful business long-term, though, you’ve got to shift from startup founder to CEO. If you’re successfully navigating this shift, then odds are good that you’re growing in a healthy way.
This transition isn’t always easy. After years of nurturing an idea from its infancy, many startup founders find it difficult to trust their colleagues with their baby. Push past the urge to micromanage – by delegating tasks, you demonstrate trust in your coworkers and also in your own judgment.
Maintaining Business Growth
Just as there is no guaranteed formula for success, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for maintaining your business growth. There are some universal truths to consider, however. Consider the old folktale about the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race. Speed may be exciting at first, and it may put you ahead of your competitors for some time, but burnout – especially in the business world – is all too real.
MAP Communications can help your company grow in a sustainable way. Allow our team to handle your phone calls while you focus on the daily operations of your business. We like to consider ourselves the secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs everywhere. Get started today with a free, week-long trial of our live answering service. Sign up now and learn how we can help you find time to grow your business.