Six Steps to Prepare for Business Growth
Here at The Gattinetts we specialise in providing high quality, affordable office space to rent for small businesses in the Colchester area, so we are familiar with the kinds of issues facing start-ups and small established companies trying to grow their business. So if you’ve got your eyes set on growth in the near future, here are six practical steps you can take to help make it happen.
1. Step Back
Set aside some time specifically to think about your business. Ideally, block out a couple of days – or at least a full afternoon. For many businesses, the period between Christmas and New Year is relatively quiet, and it can be a great time to do this (family commitments permitting of course!). If your business is busy around this time, choose another time of year instead, when the rush is over. (If your business is so busy that you can’t imagine finding time to think about all these issues, this could be a sure sign that you need more help in your business – see step 3.)
Here are some of the questions you should ask:
Current customers – Who are they? Are they the customers you want? Are you happy with the number and range of customers you have? Are you overly dependent on a few customers?
New customers – If you could win new business in 2016 what sort of customers would you choose to have? Who and where are they, and how can you reach out to them?
Suppliers – Are you happy with the quality and/or price you are getting? Are your current suppliers helping or hindering you? Could your current suppliers cope if your business were to grow?
What’s Changed? – How has your business changed since you started out? Why has it changed? What new opportunities are there that perhaps weren’t there a year ago?
Competitors – Who are they? (Try an online search looking for products and services like yours and see who else comes up in the search results.) How does their offering, prices and branding compare to yours?
2. Create or Review Your Business Plan
If you already have a business plan, review it and see how your plan is matching up to current activities and performance. If you don’t have one yet, think about getting help with creating one, especially if you work alone. Don’t think of it as an academic exercise – instead it’s a chance to get a really strong focus on what you want to achieve and working out a strategy for getting there.
3. Identify Areas You Need Support
Apart from having a great product or service, the most precious resource any business has is time. Time spent on non-essential business tasks means less time winning new business, cultivating your existing customers or improving your offering. Many new business owners start out doing everything themselves, from basic office admin to bookkeeping and even the cleaning. While this may make sense for a while, there comes a point when this kind of task will be holding you back.
Here are some typical tasks that all businesses need to find help with at some point if they are going to expand successfully:
- Health and Safety
- IT support
- Advertising, marketing and public relations
However, you may also need to think about getting help with core business tasks too. If you’ve got a firm business plan to work from, this may help identify the amount of additional resource you are likely to need in different areas, for instance:
- Packing, shipping and deliveries
- Customer service
- Research and innovation
4. Review Your Tools
Think about whether you have the right tools and technology to help you run your business. Even basic software like email and document sharing can transform the ease of doing business and getting things done as a team.
5. Assess Your Visibility
A key to growing your business is ensuring that your customers know about you and what you do, and they can find you easily if they go looking for a product like yours. Review your advertising and decide whether this needs to change to target your ideal customers. You should also take a good look at your online presence, ensuring you have a good quality website which makes it easy for customers to access your services.
6. Review Your Work Space
Your working environment can severely limit your prospects for growth in two ways:
Physical space – Do you need space to make and store physical products? Or are you considering taking on staff who will need a place to work?
Image – Is your current space presentable enough to meet prospective clients? If not, you could be putting off potential customers.
If you are a new start-up who has been working out of your spare bedroom, kitchen or shed up until now, consider whether it might be time to find dedicated workshop or office space to rent and give your business a bigger space to grow into. Alternatively, you may already be renting a small office but need somewhere a little bigger, or more conveniently located.
It’s important to think about your workspace needs after you have thought about your business plan and support needs. Work out what space you are likely to need based on that, as it’s all too easy to limit yourself to what’s possible within your existing space.
If you do decide to explore this option, do give as a call at The Gattinetts Business Centre. We will be happy to show you round our range of affordable workshops and office space to rent near Colchester. Follow the link above to get in touch.