We really loved watching the Olympic games the past few weeks. There was so much to see, be inspired by, and even something to learn about growing a small business.
Yep, you read that right. Hear me out…
It’s so hard to appreciate the amount of training and work that goes into one ten-second race. We here in the Greater Seattle Area only get to see the ten seconds. But these athletes have been preparing for years for those ten seconds.
They’ve learned what their body needs to get it ready for its peak performance. And here’s the tie-in: a high-performing business needs the same kind of understanding.
Think about the questions you ask yourself about your King and Snohomish County business every day: What’s coming up that will impact our cash flow? What’s our schedule to pay off debt? Are we on track to avoid tax trouble? How can we find time for those projects we’ve wanted to start?
It all takes time, experience, and intentional planning to build.
Your business has two pulses. One for your money and one for your future business goals. Getting a handle on both opens the door to short-term success and long-term profitability.
The best way to answer these and other questions is to create a schedule (a training schedule, to continue the analogy) around the rhythm of your business… a very important small business growth strategy.
A Small Business Growth Strategy for Greater Seattle Area Business Owners
“Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.” – Elvis Presley
Good businesses use strategic planning (probably an annual process) that involves activities happening by a set date. What are those dates in your Greater Seattle Area business? How do you and your team work toward them?
That’s your business rhythm. And establishing a rhythm is a key small business growth strategy.
Basically, you’re trying to map the big events of your business — including deadlines, activities, and development opportunities — to make sure your entire staff is on the same page of the calendar. This helps your team collaborate and reduce redundant tasks and lets you see what your business must accomplish over the coming year and beyond.
(You can pick any length of time you want, but a year is generally the easiest short-term period to examine).
Let’s take your finances first. Your long-view aim is to grow profitability. It’s hard to do that, though, without a firm view of your current numbers — and the rhythm of when those numbers become available.
Are you getting a look at final numbers as fast as possible? When do the books become final so you can see if everybody’s staying on budget? Do you get financial statements in time to act on them, or are they stale when they hit your desk? (Maybe it’s time to bring your finance team in for a chat.)
Now, look through your past calendar to find milestones for your business over the previous year. You’re looking for events, initiatives, product or project launches … anything big that requires work beforehand. Notice when planning started for each and whether you think the team involved had enough time to get the job done.
If they didn’t, you’re about to tinker with the rhythm of your business.
Leverage the calendar
The next stage of this small business growth strategy involves setting targets that build toward objectives, monitoring progress using financial benchmarks, and adjusting procedures as needed. (Again, your fiscal calendar may have a lot to do with this.)
Let’s say you want to expand into a certain market segment but have been too slow and have lost ground to competitors making the same move. We might want to set target deadlines to begin networking or advertising in that segment, followed by monitoring to make sure you hit the deadlines as well as adding staff or resources if you missed them.
How to accomplish this?
If you’re going to continue developing this small business growth strategy, you first have to make sure the money’s there. Everyone should have a realistic budget (and agree to stick to it).
Next, who needs to do what to make the deadline? You’ll need a timeline of the meetings and other activities and a schedule of tasks (with both short-term and final deadlines). If deliverables are involved in any of the target dates, work backward to set reasonable start dates for those deliverables.
To use our earlier example, if the team designing an ad for that market segment has to get the ad to the Greater Seattle Area media by a certain date before your sales team hits the field, make sure the designers are coordinating their work in time, and that the sales team is looped in. Everybody has to know what’s expected of them and when.
And share this timeline. You can use anything from an intranet to a bulletin board. Whatever it is, put this timeline calendar in front of your staffers.
The timeline for the above steps could cover the course of a year (as previously discussed). But simply changing the priorities and lengthening the time involved will allow you to set a similar rhythm for the long-term goals of your Snohomish County business four or five years out.
How’d it go?
Get 360-degree feedback from your people and from (if any) your peers and supervisors to see what went right and wrong and how to refine the process. Fixing anything broken is important since you’re going to use this plan and rhythm to meet goals next year and in the long term.
We’re happy to discuss this small business growth strategy and any other concerns about your business. Let’s set up a time to talk.
To making business easier,
The Alternative CFO
The Alternative CFO
Feel free to forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in financial management for business owners and families. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.