Successful businesses, growing businesses, are founded on several vital precepts, including great customer service, highly relevant products, proactive transformation, sufficient cash reserves, and a sense of purpose combined with an optimistic outlook – all delivered by talented staff.
To fortify your business for the coming year, and to keep on growing each year after that, consider implementing these better practices.
1. Listen to your customers
Every business starts life with a focus on customers. But as the years progress, it’s easy to lose sight of that central purpose – to put customers at the centre by giving them exactly what they want. Customers’ needs change, and unless the business stays in touch with their requirements, they cannot evolve to continue delivering optimum results. Happy customers will keep coming back for more, and could become your brand ambassadors.
Effective customer listening may involve:
- Engaging with customers using their preferred channel – telephone, mail, email, website, social media – or preferably a combination of these.
- Using customer surveys and focus groups, as well as encouraging employees to report customer feedback.
- Responding quickly, courteously and productively to customer feedback, and using it to create a better customer experience.
2. Keep your products relevant
Have the products or services on which your business was founded kept pace with prevailing trends? There will always be competitors, especially agile startups in tune with current consumer and business demands, ready to make inroads on your market share if you don’t keep your products up-to-date and relevant.
A focus on organic growth should lead to innovation and development of new products, as well as updating of existing ones, via research and development and the customer insights gained from surveys and feedback. At the same time, keep an eye on competitors and startups with emerging products that could fit well with your own offerings if you are equipped to promote inorganic growth via mergers and acquisitions.
3. Take control of the transformation narrative
Just like your products, your operating model could be in need of review and transformation. A proactive approach to innovation, rather than just letting it happen ad hoc, will put you ahead of the game instead of constantly playing catch-up. Recent paradigm shifts in both technology and customer behaviour have resulted in the need to predict change and transform in a planned way, rather than in haste when it’s already too late.
It’s a good idea to review your operating model at least annually, and have a Risk Management program in place to navigate the hazards that accompany a growth blueprint. A strategic partnership with an advisory firm like Bentleys can put you in control of your transformation journey.
4. Save for a rainy day
The COVID pandemic has demonstrated the importance of setting aside reserves for when the going gets tough. A simple business savings account provides an immediately accessible liquid asset to tide you over when something unexpected happens. It can also provide the funds for acquisition of suitable businesses that have not fared so well during the lean times. You need cash in order to grow, and the most straightforward source is from within the business, where there are no new investors to convince.
5. Clarify your purpose
Profit with a purpose reaps its own rewards. You could use some of those reserves you have accumulated to give back to the community, in sponsoring a local non-profit organisation or sports team. In doing so, you’ll foster your image as a generous brand and worthwhile community partner, as well as contributing to your own sense of purpose and that of your employees.
6. Embrace optimism
Leaders who can find the positive in every situation – even when the face of it is negative – can discover new business opportunities. It’s not about ignoring reality, but about accepting challenges and finding innovative solutions. Aim to foster the same optimism in your employees too, by supporting them professionally and personally, recognising their achievements, and helping them find value and a sense of purpose in their work. Bentleys can show you how optimistic leadership will help your business to strengthen and grow.
7. Hire great people
As a business owner, CEO, CFO or other senior manager, you cannot implement a growth plan on your own. You need a talented team, properly rewarded, to put your strategy into practice. To perform at their best they’ll need to be able to align with the organisation’s sense of purpose. If you can create a strong Employee Value Proposition you will be able to attract, retain and foster the individuals who will propel your business growth.
Setting a course for growth requires transformation
It’s clear that there’s more to positioning for growth than merely having an aggressive sales campaign. It may require a transformation in your approach to customers, employees and the community, as well as a review of your product offerings, your business model and your cash reserves. Contact your local Bentleys advisor for assistance and prepare for growth.
Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.