At one point or another, your company may hit a glass ceiling or plateau. Though you do everything in your power, it seems as if your company can grow no further, as if something invisible is holding it back. The truth is that the problem may not be invisible; in fact it might be right in front of your face.
Here are the top five biggest issues that are hindering your company's growth and, more importantly, what you can do about them.
Lack of a business plan
You may be a fan of spontaneity or believe that you can improvise as you go along, but the fact is that not having a business plan can hold you back from going beyond your current success.
A business plan is about much more than outlining goals and spelling out the obvious. Business plans help you keep track of what production increases you need in order to meet demands, and they assist you in deciding when to hire and how many people to hire. Additionally, they are excellent record keepers, reminding you of both past successes and failures.
Your business plan should include:
- A solid annual budget
- A three-year plan for overhead costs and production, marketing, labour and financial needs
Above all, having a great business plan will help you recognise success when you see it. If you do not have anywhere to start from, then how can you possibly track your company's progress? Sit down and start planning out your three-year plan. What goals do you want to achieve in that time? If your company grows by a certain percentage each year, how will you need to expand your labour and production? When you have this plan drafted, you will be able to see your path to success.
Without a strong marketing message and campaign, your sales will suffer, as will your company's growth. Until you reach the status of Coca-Cola or McDonald's, you will always need to reach out to new leads and show people that you exist. Marketing, of course, is much more than purchasing space in newspapers or magazines and displaying your logo.
Marketing starts with a careful analysis of both the product and the market. Go back to your product and look at it from different angles. How does it help your current customers? Could it possibly fulfil the need of another demographic you have not yet considered?
Now look back your customer profile, your original demographic. How do these people relate and communicate with one another? What is the best medium for reaching them? What type of brand will they be proud to purchase or display?
As you go about marketing your brand, incorporate your company's mission statement and values into the campaign. If you are committed to helping the earth, remind your buyers of this and show them how you are doing your part.
Spending what you do not have
Almost every business is guilty of this at one point or another. Your profits are up one month and rather than holding off, you buy a brand new printer and scanner, even though your older, slightly outdated printer and scanner worked just as well.
Learning how to reinvest your profits back into your company is a tough step to learn as there is no one right answer. Some prefer to pour excess money into marketing to try and expand their reach while others prefer to reinvest in new products or equipment. It will mostly depend on what is most needed at the time.
If you do not already have a bookkeeper or an accountant, considering hiring one or seeking a virtual Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to look over your books and help you keep track of your spending. In addition to making sure your company is not overspending, this person will also help you see where it is best to reinvest. You might double your production with more efficient equipment or you might improve your buyer's experience with a more fluid and manageable website.
Dull product or service line
When you have been in business for so long and saturated your market with your product, can you really expect to sell much more?
Your company will not grow unless you expand your product and service line. If you feel that you cannot improve further on your product, think about what would complement your product or service. For example, a company that produces coats might start producing hats and scarves.
If you are looking for inspiration, go back to your customer reviews and comments left on your website and other social media and business pages. What are people saying? If they gave your product three out of five stars, what did they want you to change or improve? If you cannot advance your product or service line, you will not advance your company either.
When your company plateaus, sometimes your employees do too. Once the company is a success, some may feel it is time to kick back and relax. Why try for anything more than what is working right now?
The key is to keep your employees motivated and hungry for future success. While it is important to celebrate current successes, such as doubling a sales quota for the month, employees should also be looking towards the future and seeking out new ways to improve themselves and the company.
If you are not already, you should be holding regular meetings with your staff to keep them up to date on your company's progress. Quarterly meetings might work best, but bi-annual ones might be more doable, especially if your company is especially large or in multiple locations. When everyone feels as if they have an investment in the company, they will be more motivated to work towards improvement.
Your company's success always has a chance for growth. Even when you feel your company slowing down, you have the power to pick it back up. With a little motivation and creativity, you can overcome any barrier and help your company reach new heights.