Where is your company heading? Do you have a plan to get there? Are
all your available resources and assets aligned in the same direction as
your growth plans?
Growth isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Whether you feel
your business is ready to diversify its service offerings, enter new
markets, or branch into new territory, a strategic and operational plan
for growth is a must.
In this five-minute “Strategies for Growth – Preparing for Growth” video, the Small Business
Administration (SBA) talked to Carey Wilson of the Maryland
Small Business Development Center (pictured right), who offers the
following five valuable tips for preparing your small business for
1. Knowing When It’s Time to Grow Your Business
Whether you started your business with early dreams of growth, or if
the potential for greater profitability through growth has just crept
into your peripheral vision, you can only grow when business indicators
show that you are ready for growth.
As Wilson observes: “The indicators are different for different
industries. If a retailer or restaurant is finding great acceptance of
their product or service offering, that owner may say I’m successful
here. Let me find another market with the same demographics, I’ve got
the financial stability to grow this business.”
Other industries, of course, would look at different indicators to
mandate growth and re-capitalization, such as product development
success, approval from a government regulator, or landing a government
As Wilson continues, planning for growth involves “…a constant
reassessment of all operational aspects of the business,” from
day-to-day operations, to marketing, hiring, market penetration and of
the staff needed to grow the business.
2. Use and Adjust Your Business Plan to Guide Your Growth
A business plan is an essential aspect to both starting and growing a
business. As Wilson explains: “It starts with a foundational
business plan that the entrepreneur used to get the business
off the ground…and once you have been in operations for a period of
time, you reassess that business plan with an eye to
growing capitalization, staff, and market size.” And Wilson
suggests that any reassessment starts by asking five questions
about your capital assets:
- How is the capitalization working?
- Where did the initial capital come from?
- What did it cost?
- How current are you in paying it back?
- Do you have the capacity to take on more capital?
You’ll also want to assess the skill sets that you might lack in
terms of running a larger organization.
As you fine-tune your business plan, you should also consider the
audience for the plan. Any business plan needs to be geared to all the
stakeholders in a business – from those who are providing the capital to
outsourced agencies, as well as your management team. As Wilson
explains: “Any entity or person that has a stake in that business is
an audience for the business plan.” So your plan needs to be broad
ranging, complete with every single aspect of the operation “fully
documented and strategized”.
Last but not least, re-visit your plan (where you are versus where
you want to be) on a quarterly basis.
3. Use Available Counseling Resources