Owning a business is no picnic. Approximately one-third of businesses fail in their first year; so if you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Making the leap from employee to employer can be daunting, but finding success is your greatest reward. However, starting a business is one thing, but growing it is another thing entirely. If you’ve managed to stay alive through the hard times and now looking to manage the growth of your business, you’ve come to the right place.
Hoping to figure things out as you go, without a vision for how your business is going to look five or even ten years from now, is a bad idea. At best, it’ll take you longer to see a net positive in your business (as mistakes and contingencies add up), and at worst it can cost you the business itself. Growth without direction is a mistake. In order to solve this, you can create yourself a road-map that assesses the health of your businesses, identifies growth opportunities, and helps reduce the risk of your enterprise.
Good road maps have eight basic tenets that they follow:
1. Your Mission Statement
You likely already have a mission statement, and that’s a good thing. A mission statement identifies the reason for your existence. A good mission statement outlines what you want to accomplish in your business, but also how you’re going to do it.
An excellent example of this is Target, Inc., whose statement reads: “We fulfill the needs and fuel the potential of our guests. That means making Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional experiences—consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less.® brand promise.”
2. Your Vision Statement
Your vision statement is how you wish your business to look in the future. It is the goal that your company seeks to reach. It should be realistic but also ambitious. After all, aiming too low could mean that you stunt the growth of your business, and aiming too high means that you might overstretch yourself, leading to failure. Alzheimer’s Association has a really inspiring example- short, to the point, and ambitious: “A world without Alzheimer’s disease.”
3. Your Values Statement
What are the core principles that your company abides by? What values do you embrace, for yourself, your employees, and your customers? Your guiding principles were likely founded alongside your company, but having them down on paper for others to learn and follow is an important step for your company. Ensuring that everyone is on board is a key ingredient to success and growth.
4. Your SWOT Analysis
A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis is commonplace in businesses, and helps you identify all the different aspects of change that your business may encounter. Understanding your strengths can help you focus on honing in on those skills; similarly, knowing your weaknesses can give you a dedicated subject for improvement. In that same vein, sitting down and assessing all possible opportunities and threats will likely reveal unrealized options and unforeseen problems, which you can then combat directly.
5. Your Objectives
Once you’ve identified all possible opportunities, it’s important to plan both your long and short- term goals. Adding in objectives gives you a defined direction to take your business- adding in deadlines creates a sense of urgency, and completing such objectives offers a sense of reward that further pushes the business forward. Long-term goals can be projected out for two years or more, while short term goals should be accomplished in two years or less in order to avoid stagnation.
6. Your Strategies
Once you’ve got objectives in place, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to accomplish them. A roadmap doesn’t need a play-by-play of your actions, but you should have the general strategies you’re going to use in order to achieve your goals.
7. Your Resources and Financing
This one is fairly simple. How are you going to fund your objectives for growth? Expansion at the expense of other aspects of your company is dangerous and unsustainable. It’s important that the resources you plan to use are the ones you can spare.
8. Your Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
As time wears on, you’ll need an idea of how successfully your objectives are being completed. Decide how you’ll want to measure performance, whether it’s an increase in profit or a wider outreach in the community, and set targets for these indicators to be accomplished. Again, be ambitious but not overzealous, as achieving your targets is just as important as setting them.
Creating a good roadmap is key to successfully managing the growth of your small business. Setting yourself attainable, clearly defined goals, and sticking to your vision of your future will help you find success in the highly-competitive world of small businesses.