Growth and success in a small business is not accomplished overnight or by accident. A business owner must prepare for growth and eventual success by focusing on five basic “P” principles…plan, people, prioritize, processes, and pace. When these are mastered, you’ll see a business headed in the right direction.
Owners must prepare for growth by planning regardless of where the business is in its life cycle. Many small business owners have one thought in mind…sell more and get bigger. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this philosophy, and a goal that every business owner wants to achieve. Growth, however, requires careful consideration in many different areas of the business such as operations, staffing, facilities, finance, and marketing as examples. Planning is about assessing how future changes will interact with the present, with each other, and how costs are affected in both positive and negative ways. Planning allows a business to be proactive taking advantage of opportunities in the future rather than fixing past mistakes.
It can be said over and over again that employees are the greatest assets any business can have. Without skilled, dedicated employees regardless of job position, a business cannot operate efficiently, market, sell, and service customers. Employees, however, must be groomed for growth through mentoring and training. As a business expands, growth is based on many factors…products or services, marketing, competition, capitalizing on opportunities, improving weaknesses, and taking advantage of internal resources. Qualified employees along with other strengths of a business build the foundation needed for future growth.
Successful growth requires prioritizing tasks, strategies, and goals. Owners should review business approaches that are working, goals that are being met, and tasks that need changing to further enhance the business operations and objectives. Today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s growth; therefore, decisions that add little value or efficiency should be given a lower priority compared to decisions that improve operational efficiency and maximize profit leading to increased business value. Prioritizing allows a business owner to focus on those items that have the greatest impact of improving the likelihood of successful growth.
All businesses operate with various processes and procedures. Successful business growth focuses on continuously improving the processes and procedures involved in creating and delivering a business’ products and services. In a highly competitive marketplace, a small business must adapt, evolve, and improve what it does in addition to developing new processes and procedures to stay current with updated offerings and competition. It is a must for small business owners to review their entire operation and streamline processes and procedures, wherever possible, to reduce inefficiencies and costs. Eliminating costly or inefficient processes and procedures and maximizing efficient ones achieve a critical element necessary for successful growth.
A small business should pace its growth based on the accomplishment of various predetermined milestones centered on the company’s goals, and then slowly increase and improve all of the functional areas necessary to handle growth. The business should progress to comfortable and realistic levels based on internal resources and strengths to achieve desired growth. As growth is successfully implemented at one level, then further growth can be added incrementally.
When these five basic growth principles are applied consistently, success in a small business can be achieved in a steady, orderly manner.