There's that extra word "growth" in the headline, so naturally the difference between a standard business plan and a business growth plan is to focus on progress and development. The trouble is for small businesses, once a business plan is formally written, it often falls by the wayside in the grind of day-to-day operations. Small business owners simply become too busy to revise or revitalize the plan.
You probably think about growth all the time; it's the cornerstone of operating a successful business. Growth translates into bigger profits. But have you outlined a growth strategy?
Here are 5 ways to inject growth into your 2016 plan:
1. Cultivate your voice and differentiate through expertise. You know the in's and out's of your industry like few others, so why not be the expert? Even if writing isn't your strength, there's value in your knowledge. Research relevant high-ranking blogs that fit your area of expertise and pitch an idea. If writing is not your expertise, learn how to make your pitch the best it can be before shooting off a query.
Becoming an expert through guest opportunities on social media and at conferences or trade meetings brings attention to your business and solidifies your brand as a leader in your industry.
2. Invest in your business. Have you been thinking of expanding a particular product or service? Make use of opportunities to borrow capital through the wide range of alternative lending options available through advanced technology and growing competition in the banking world. Increasing your cash flow to invest in operations or employees will pay off. Have a clear plan for the capital in place before you borrow, don't over-borrow, and reap your return on investment.
3. Seek targeted training opportunities for key staff. Is there a credential or certification that would strengthen your businesses or employees' credibility? Are there opportunities to increase your range of skills through training? Today, online coursework and distance learning opportunities are everywhere. Talk to your employees about what further education or specific certifications would help them excel at their jobs, and overall, for your company.
4. Review and revamp marketing messages. Although this may seem like a time-consuming activity rather than a way to boost your growth, focus on and review all printed materials. Look for details, facts, and information that needs to be updated.
Does your marketing material still communicate a cohesive, consistent message? Marketing pieces (mailers, price sheets, equipment specs, brochures for a particular service, etc.) are often developed on an as-needed basis to satisfy a particular message, but veer off course from your overall brand. Revise, recycle, or remove marketing materials if necessary and compare them to your online message as well. Reevaluation can help a new focus emerge to help grow your business.
5. Innovate. Task your best and brightest with ways to bring fresh innovation to your products or services. Interview your customers about their needs and consider ways to adapt your services to meet those needs. Investigate your closest competitors, and develop ways to differentiate and excel.
Sometimes a simple review of an old business plan reveals opportunities for change and growth. If you find business to be stagnant or sluggish or find your competition is moving into the lead, take time to step outside of your day-to-day activities and think about strategic growth planning; that the difference between a business plan and a business growth plan is attitude.