Guest Blogger: Darlene Crane, President, PCI Crane Consulting
Based on a survey of small business owners, according to Janet Zablock, Visa, Head of Global Small Business, “The top desire of small business owners is to attract new customers and grow their businesses.” After years of focusing primarily on staying afloat, owners are more optimistic about the future and see growth on the horizon.
At PCI Crane Consulting, we have saw shift to growth in the beginning of 2014. We see revenues up for businesses. We are talking to business owners with more ideas for growth and projects in process. But many companies are still recovering and have challenges with to their credit and cash reserves.
We agree it is time for small business owners to shift to a growth mindset because there are many opportunities for growth. We recommend a four step approach to growth to balance the risk side of growth in an economy that is slowly recovering.
Do a plan based on direct customer input.
• Talk with your customers and find out their needs, wants and challenges.
• Confirm that your customers are more confident about spending more in 2014-15.
• Ask for the “must have” products and services versus the ‘wish list.”
Brainstorm growth ideas that meet the needs and “must have” wants of customers like:
• Enhance or create products and services based on a current profile of your ideal customer
• Update your marketing and communications or launch more targeted business development and sales efforts. , consider
• Branch out into a new product/service line If your niche has deteriorated in the recession
• Form a partnership with a complimentary company in a growing market niche
Prioritize the ideas and select the top one growth strategy that taps your strengths and is affordable.
Do a small test of your top growth idea and evaluate the results.
For example, offer a free workshop to test interest in your new or improved product or service. Demo the product and/or share case studies of successful client service engagements. Offer a door prize and ask for feedback from everyone. Offer the new product or service at a discount and see if anyone buys.
Be open and see what happens. At least you will get direct prospect input to make a go/no go decision. If you get a couple of bites for the discounted product/service, then you can move right into preparing a prototype of the sales process and product/service delivery for use with the prospective customers. Evaluate the results of any customer engagements you have.
Now is the time to make a more thorough go/no go decision. Develop a budget including marketing, sales, product/service packaging and refinement and marketing to increased volume.
Estimate revenue and gross income. If you need financing, then do an estimate the time, effort and cost of getting financing to launch and scale delivery.
For a small business where the owner is in full time operations, this three step process may have to be spread over a number of months. Remember that growth involves cost. Growth is an investment of money and resources to derive significantly higher returns in the future.
You are more likely to realize your desired growth goals and returns using this three step process than just diving in.
For more about the business growth planning and execution process contact Darlene Crane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www.pcicraneconsulting.com.
PCI Crane Consulting is a business growth advising and valuation company.
Lead your business to greatness.