If you have ever posted a thought or idea on Twitter (follow me while you are there! – Aepiphanni), you can probably tell from the response that the time taken to create and post the tweet barely made am impact. Just because you posted it didn’t make it go viral. Because it was brilliant, thought provoking, extraordinary, even, didn’t make people re-tweet it and discuss it until it trended. As a matter of fact, if you asked many of your followers if they’d seen it, most would probably say that they had missed it and might be kind enough to look for the next one.
It isn’t until you have you have done the work – created a very specific strategy crafted to invoke a predictable response from a vast majority of a specific target audience that your tweets might make a difference. Such as, “Free Chicken Sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A,” or “FaceBook is charging membership fees??”
Your business is no different. Just because you open the doors with something to sell doesn’t mean that you are going to having a booming business next week, next year or in the next five years. Organic Growth doesn’t mean that the business grows on its own. Just like a Twitter strategy or a growing a plant, you have to do the work to create the ideal scenario for that growth. You must also realize that there are no absolutes – things can still go wrong or not go as planned.
What we do in order to increase the possibility of success and reduce the risk of failure is to plan. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a 150 page business plan with mock growth models based on qualitative and quantitative analysis (not suggesting that models are bad – sometimes they are too expensive and impractical! When it is appropriate – by all means, do it!). What it means is that you take the time to understand what is going on around you – your market, your industry, your finances, goals, expectations, etc.
As a consultant, the business leaders I work with have unique products and seek to grow extraordinary businesses, in a number of different arenas. While they have established themselves as viable from a product or service standpoint, they typically have the following gaps in their businesses:
- Lack of clear direction – they’ve gotten the product or service to market, but have no idea what they want to do next. They often lose sight of their vision, give into the pressures of “reality” and put all of their energy into just surviving.
- No budget or financial controls – budgetary or financial controls not only tell you how well you are doing, but enable you to PLAN for purchases you may wish to make at a later time, such as investment in marketing, upgrade of equipment or engagement of a new service
- No rationale behind decision making – decisions are often emotion or cash based. Emotional decisions are done, “because I feel like that is the right thing to do for right now.” Cash based decisions are “let’s get the cheapest thing that will do the minimum job.” Evaluating the situation, opportunities and the big picture may often mean that the same decision doesn’t have to be twice, which is often what happens
- Fear – Cash is often the chief instigator when it comes to fear. Growth requires inputs. The level of growth desired often correlates with the amount of cash put into the business. Not suggesting that simply throwing cash at the business will result in growth, but the lack of it, limiting the businesses access to capital will often limit the business’s ability to grow. Other fears include partnerships, tough conversations, growth, outsourcing…etc. Fear cripples.
- No duplicate-able processes – If you do the same thing more than once, write down how you do it so you don’t have to figure it out all over again the next time you do it. No brainer. However, the other thing you can do if you write it down is to evaluate the process to see if it makes sense, and you can look at what components of the process you can outsource.
- No repeatable revenue generation tools – this is the biggest problem. Getting the product to the market is usually not the problem. Planning out how many people or companies need to be touched, how often and in what way is usually not in place. This is like making sure that you know where the next gas station is when you are on a long trip. If your car has a 400 mile range and the next gas station is 500 miles away by the route you’ve created, you are in trouble
- No tracking system – Tracking systems not only tell you how you are doing (give you a pulse), but they also help you to predict what is going to happen in the future, given that certain inputs remain constant. For example, when you evaluate sales activities you can learn more about the ebbs and flows of your business, how certain marketing activities affect your sales (positively or negatively!), etc.
Fortunately, all of these can be overcome, and, once done, we can focus on building an extraordinary business. Nevertheless, getting there – especially on a tight budget – requires a clear plan of action and taking action to make sure that they happen. Growth doesn’t happen by accident. Luck – being in the right place at the right time – is only part of the equation. The other part of it is being ready.
Be Extraordinary – plan for growth.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.
We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services. As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.
If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].