The holidays are over and it’s time to start planning goals to help expand your business in 2015. Here are ten tips to help you grow your business in the New Year.
1. Reinvest internally generated cash flow for growth initiatives.
There are several aspects to consider before you choose to reinvest in your company and approaches vary depending on your industry. If you operate in a volatile industry where unexpected costs are likely to occur with relative frequency, you will want to keep higher reserves than a company within an industry that is generally stable. Refer to your business plan and your financial forecasts how much you should reinvest or save for your company.
For entrepreneurs who are willing to increase their running expenses and accept long-term commitments, there are multiple areas of your business to reinvest cash flow. Many entrepreneurs often pump capital into advertising, marketing, or new hires. These are often strategies that can generate a return for your business; however, it is important to realize that such efforts may have an unclear return on investment. Consider investing smaller amounts in such areas and monitor those that work.
2. Raise external capital for growth initiatives if you don’t have internally generated cash flow.
If you own a startup or business that has yet to recognize profits, you will likely need to consider a fundraising round from external capital providers. Ask anyone who owns their own business, though, and they’ll tell you in earnest that fundraising is no simple task. Traditional sources of capital such as banks and other financial institutions typically provide entrepreneurs with a funding success rate of three to five percent. That’s why many entrepreneurs are turning to business crowdfunding platforms like EquityNet to source their funding through private investors, angel groups and venture capitalists.
Simply put, business crowdfunding removes banks and other traditional capital providers from the equation and lets the populace fund businesses through an online marketplace. Think of it as a cross between Match.com and Lending Tree. You create an online profile that describes your business and its capital needs that you share with a pool of investors. If you find an investor that is interested in working with you, you then work out a deal to sell the investor a percentage ownership of your company in exchange. At EquityNet, around 15 to 20 percent of our companies are obtaining funding, which is a funding success rate that is roughly five times greater than the historical average.
3. Identify what has succeeded or failed for you in the past.
As an entrepreneur, it’s imperative that you consistently evaluate your growth options. Make a list of what you’ve done in the past and identify actions that seem to be the most scalable and yield the highest margin. Prioritize and execute your actions accordingly. Track your progress regularly and keep accurate numbers to aid yourself in streamlining the process.
4. Align your team’s performance with growth metrics.
Your team is one of your most vital assets, so it is essential that their goals are aligned with your company’s. Establish performance goals, develop a performance plan, and maintain open communication channels for feedback. Consider ways to reward strong employee performances like developing a sales commission schedule, overachievement commissions, or pace setting bonuses. You could also consider offering a portion of salaries in equity, which has the added advantage of saving your company a decent amount of cash. Incentivizing team members can improve performance and productivity, which helps your company grow faster. Also, the more a person helps to grow the company, the more they benefit personally.
5. Know when to delegate.
Delegation is a primary management skill, and the inability to delegate is one of the main reasons that managers fail. Company leaders need to be able to focus on the big picture, to study and learn their industry and drive their companies towards success in the future. Delegating day-to-day tasks to other team members helps you maintain your focus and prepare your team for advancement. Be prepared to teach employees new skills and hand over greater responsibility as their skill sets expand. Not only will this allow you to focus on the growth of your company, it will empower your team to streamline your business operations.
6. Cultivate your online presence.
Your online presence can have extensive reach if it’s developed properly. It can help generate leads, acquire customers, spread brand awareness, and have an enormous impact on the way the public perceives your company. If your company doesn’t have a website then you should absolutely start working on one today. Platforms like wix.com offer free website development solutions that can help you put a website together quickly and efficiently.
After you’ve developed your website, consider starting a blog to give visitors more value added content. A blog serves to give people a reason to visit your site and help you gain authority within your industry. You may also consider expanding your presence on social media, which has become a very powerful marketing tool for many companies.
7. Re-evaluate and refine your business plan
A solid business plan will help you set organizational goals, provide a framework for operations, and attract qualified management and employees while also being a powerful fundraising tool. Revisit your business plan at least once every quarter. Many entrepreneurs make it a habit to review theirs. Reconcile your financial projections once they become historical and re-estimate forward-looking growth rates.
8. Form new alliances and partnerships with businesses that complement your services.
Be on the lookout for businesses that offer products or services that could be complementary to your own. Forming alliances with them can be a very effective way to grow quickly as you can share ideas and develop new ways to provide the most value to your customer base. It will also help you expand your professional network and prove to be a powerful tool in helping your company expand in the future.
9. Look at penetrating your existing customer base with complimentary services and solutions.
Adding complimentary services to what you already offer can quickly set your company apart from your competitors. Take the time to find out exactly what your target market needs and what they would consider valuable. If you’re running a software company, consider free helpdesk support. If you’re an online retailer, consider offering free shipping for your products. After you’ve conducted that research and determined what value-added services you wish to add, prepare your marketing strategies to get the word out.
10. Look at expanding your geographic footprint.
If your company has shown constant bottom-line profits for a significant amount of time, consider opening new locations. Know that physical expansion requires a significant amount of research and planning, and you should only pursue a new location if you have adequate funds and customer and economic trends justify the decision.