You have a business plan. But do you have a growth strategy plan?
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or you have a few employees in your company, you probably should. Obviously, every entrepreneur designs a business plan—whether it's on the fly, with the details in your head or in a 458-page document.
But your business plan should look beyond creating a viable business. After all, you also want to stay in business, and arguably one of the best ways to do that is to have a company that's growing.
Your growth strategy plan can involve doing what you can to make sure your business maintains its client base and doesn't shrink, such as staying up on technology and investing in new ways to accept payment from your customers for your products and services.
Bottom line: a growth strategy plan allows you to future proof your business. Ostensibly if your company is growing, your company is more likely to have a future.
So if you're looking to create a growth strategy plan, you'll want to make sure your blueprint is open to doing the following.
1. Sell more products and services to existing customers.
It’s generally more expensive to find a new customer than to simply sell more products or services to an existing customer. Attracting new clientele is important—but if you want quick growth, that can often involve taking even better care of the customers you already have.
Let's say you have an overnight kennel for dogs. You might start offering grooming services to your customers as well, either by hiring someone and investing in grooming equipment or by partnering with a local dog groomer. You could offer doggie daycare or sell dog treats and toys in your lobby to help you reach new clients.
If you can offer your customer services that they want, need and are happy to pay for, your business may start to see growth.
2. Find new customers and make sure your infrastructure is ready for them.
It's possible to grow too fast. Many successful business owners find that what got you from Point A to Point B won't necessarily get them to Point C.
If you're a busy entrepreneur who wants even more work, it might be time to hire an assistant to help you. If that's too far of a leap right now, you may want to invest in some software that will allow you to invoice faster or manage paperwork better. This can help you focus on your core competencies.
If you want to really future proof your business so it can grow in good times and lean, take a look at your cash flow and think of ways to protect it.
Sometimes it's hard to grow your business if your business isn't actually growing – and so as part of your growth strategy, you do want to think ahead about how an influx of clientele or customers will affect your business before you employ any ambitious marketing strategies to bring in new customers.
3. Scrutinize your financial records as part of your growth strategy.
Having cash-flow issues is a definite deterrent to your business' growth. If you suddenly have a bad few months, and you find that you barely have enough working capital, you may struggle to stay in business, let alone grow.
It's also hard to capitalize on opportunities that come by if you don't have a healthy cash flow. For instance, let's say that you have a landscaping business. Suddenly there's a great sale on gardening equipment and supplies that you feel would really modernize your business, but you can't afford to jump on the deal and take advantage of those discounts. If you end up buying those supplies later when you have the cash but they're far more expensive, you've lost money in a sense.
In order to help manage the peaks and valleys of cash flow, American Express offers the Blue Business Cash™ Card. This no annual fee Credit Card provides the ability to spend over your credit limit and earn 2% cash back on your purchases automatically credited to your statement. Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors. Cash back Credit Cards like Blue Business Cash can help you maintain control as you grow. American Express small Business Credit Cards are designed specifically to help manage the unpredictability of owning a business.
4. Prepare for cash flow changes
So if you want to really future proof your business so it can grow, take a look at your cash flow and think of ways to protect it from different scenarios. (Speaking of which, you'll also want to make sure your business insurance is up to date—natural disasters can hurt your ability to run your business.)
No, you can't be ready for everything, but a good growth strategy gives it that ol' college try, anyway. If you want things to go right, it's smart business to try and think about what might possibly go wrong.
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