You can only get so far in business without having a plan. At the same time having too rigid a plan when you are developing new products or services can be fatal; you need to be able to try out different approaches and respond quickly to what works.
But underpinning an entrepreneurial mindset, you also need to have a solid framework of systems. It’s rare to have the combination of attributes required for sustainable long-term success encompassed in one person. A range of perspectives and skills is a true strength for any business.
Here are a few of the systems and attributes you should be thinking about as you plan for business growth.
Business continuity plans
When you are managing a business, it can feel like swimming upstream against a river. As soon as you stop swimming, you will find yourself at the bottom of the river. If your business is disrupted for any reason – whether that’s key person illness, accident, fire, theft, or even computer hacking – it will go backward. You lose revenue, brand awareness and fall behind in important competitive advantages. This is why you should look into developing a business continuity plan (BCP). This is a set of procedures that will help to recover systems and prevent them from being disrupted. In plain terms, it helps your business deal with unexpected events.
Have a detailed record-keeping system
Every successful business has detailed records. This includes sales, customer complaints, transactions, profits, losses, your employees, and performance compared to business plans and projections. Make sure that you review and analyse those plans so that you can spot significant issues and opportunities as soon as they are presented. Planning is all about intelligence and anticipation. Effective financial planning should enable you to identify potential cash flow issues well in advance and take steps to plug finance gaps before it becomes a crisis.
Investigate the competition
If you don’t have competition then you probably don’t have a business. Even if your product or service is in a very narrow niche there are always alternative competitors for your customers’ time and money. Keep asking yourself why customers should prefer you, don’t rest on your laurels. Always keep an eye on the competition and what they are up to. By analysing where they are going wrong you may be able to develop a solution that brings their customers over to your company. Conversely, by looking at what they get right, you may be able to identify ways of impriving your offering as well.
Allow for risks
Any successful business has had to take risks. If you take things too carefully then you may miss out on opportunities. The trick here is to take calculated risks and not ones that will ruin your company if you lose out on them. When you approach any risky situation, you should think about what the worst thing that can happen is and fully assess the range of options that are available.
Growing your business
Before you begin a business, it is important that you have a clear vision in mind for how you want to grow it and what you are going to do. After all, if you know where you want to go you are much more likely to get there.