The Four Steps to Growing Your Business
Only four steps?
Business growth boils down to doing these four things, doing them in order and doing them correctly.
They’re built upon the foundation pillars of your business:
These pillars are thoroughly discussed in the best-selling book, Boost Your Business Today: The Four Pillar Secret to Success. If you haven’t read it, you can order it on Amazon here.
When you’re looking for ways to grow your business, always start here.
Look at the things that are working right now to bring in customers and revenue. How are new customers finding you? How often are established customers returning? What’s bringing them back? Take a good look at your team. Who seems to be a natural at customer service? Who is the go-to person for problem solving?
This first step is all about doing more of what’s already working, and less of- or eliminating – what isn’t. That means having a way to track and measure results for everything.
This is where the principles of Six-Sigma really shine. Nothing is more effective for finding those undiscovered areas of your business that, with just a little tweak here and there, are ready to explode with growth.
This is the fun part because it’s all about shiny, new possibilities and we entrepreneurs love shiny things!
When you innovate correctly, you’ll expand your product or service offerings, you’ll go into new markets, form new relationships, and build a business that is much larger than the sum of its parts.
You’ll form strategic alliances with businesses that may not even be on your radar right now. That may sound like a big undertaking, and it is, but when you’ve done your homework and you’re in the right position to innovate, the sky isn’t even the limit.
3. Systemize to Super-Size Your Business
Step by Step System Creation Plan
Does that word make you break out in hives?
I completely understand your aversion to such a corporate sounding word. Most of us are in the local business arena because we hated our soul-eating corporate jobs and the thought of doing anything “corporate-like” just makes us cringe.
Trust us, we’re right there with you….however….and this is important…be careful about throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Yes, big business uses systems, it uses systems because they work.
Systems work for them and they will work for us. We can (and should) use tools that work without becoming soul-sucking machines ourselves.
Back to systems…
The difference between businesses that succeed and those that fail is the difference between creating something fueled by our personal energy and determination (and the limits to both) and something that is fueled by the combined efforts of many parts working as a whole (and the unlimited potential that unleashes).
Clearly, in the first scenario, the amount of growth the business is capable of achieving is limited by the finite amount of our time and energy. The minute that business model “outgrows” us, it collapses on itself.
In the second model, the business has the potential of unlimited growth because it will never outgrow the capacity of its systems. This business becomes a wealth-building asset for its owner (s). That’s why systems are important.
Features of a System
A system has two primary parts:
- Interaction between interdependent parts
- A goal or purpose
So to begin designing a system, we have to start at the most basic level and work our way up.
Designing a System for Your Business
How would you complete this sentence:
My business takes______(your inputs) and turns them into _______(your output).
For us, the sentence would read, “Main Street USA Marketing takes expert business building knowledge and tools and turns it into actionable growth strategies for local businesses”.
Now add to your sentence: The purpose of my business is to_____(what results do you deliver / what solutions do you offer?)
Again, for our business, the sentence would read, “Our purpose is to turn locally-owned businesses into wealth-building assets that support their founders and their communities and will continue to do so for many generations to come .”
One more time, just for your own clarity, fill in these blanks:
_______(your business name) is a collection of marketing, fulfillment, and operations sub-systems acting together to turn _____(inputs) into_____(outputs) for the purpose of __________(your purpose).
Our sentence would say,
“Main Street USA Marketing is a collection of marketing, fulfillment and operations subsystems acting together to turn expert business building knowledge and tools into actionable growth strategies for the purpose of turning locally-owned businesses into wealth-building assets that support their founders and communities and will continue to do so for many generations to come”.
So what does yours say? At this point, if nothing else, at least you have more clarity about what your business does and why. That’s already more than the majority of business owners can say.
When is a Problem not a Problem?
When it’s a wakeup call that gets you out of your bubble and into the action that will ultimately turn your business into a wealth-building asset.
The problems you experience in your business are great big flashing neon signs pointing directly to the places in your business where a little time and attention will have an enormous effect.
Now that we know the real purpose and value of problems, we’ll see them differently from now on.
So what do you do with a problem? First of all, recognize that the problem is being caused by a faulty system, not by a person. Fixing the system will accomplish far more than fixing the blame, so don’t waste any time there. When a problem pops up, ask yourself, “what would cause the system to give me this result?” of course, if the problem arose because there was no system in place, that’s the solution right there.
- Start by identifying a problem you want to eliminate forever
- Shift your thinking to seeing the problem as a system failure
- Get as many facts and details as you can to get to the root of the problem
- Get very clear and define the problem
- Get very clear about the results you want instead
- Finish this sentence, “the answer is to install a system that will______”
- Define the specific system needed AND the best person to create it
Pay particular attention to step #7. The best person to create or fix a system may not be you. This can be a particularly difficult pill for us self-reliant types to swallow, but building a wealth producing asset depends upon it.
Think about it, one of the things business owners suffer from most is the lack of time freedom or the flexibility to enjoy it. Insisting on doing everything yourself will only add to your workload. Since when is doing more the solution for doing too much?
Putting it All Together
You don’t have to wait for a problem to surface before you start constructing or improving your systems. A few hours spent every week looking at your business from different angles will pay huge dividends later.
Ask yourself, “what tasks could become systems?”. Anything that is done repeatedly in your business can (and should) benefit from becoming the basis of a system.
Once you’ve decided which tasks to focus on, decide who would be the best person to create the system (see #7 above). Again, doing this yourself may not be the best possible use of your time.
Record it. The key to an efficient system is to have crystal clear step-by-step instructions for using it. The instructions need to be so clear that someone walking in off the street could read them and execute them flawlessly. Make sure the instructions specify (by job title) who is responsible for performing the process. If multiple specialties are involved, specify who will hand off to whom. A process map is great way to show this.
Now, Test and Make Adjustments. It’s pretty common for something that looks great on paper to be awkward to carry out in practice. Do several dry runs, look for the flaws, look for steps that cause extra work for no reason. You want your system to be elegant because if it’s awkward, it won’t be used.
Launch your system. When the system is the best it can be, thoroughly train the people who will be using it then move into implementation.
Evaluate and improve. Watch the new system closely for the first few weeks, collect feedback from the people using it and make any necessary changes. Again, it has to be usable or your team will start looking for ways to get around it. The feedback you get from your team could point out valuable short cuts that could be instituted.
And There You Have It
A step by step process to create elegant systems with the power to turn your small business into an asset that will benefit you, your customers, your community and anyone else who comes into contact with it for years to come.
You’ve done it!
You’ve found and optimized the areas of your business that will give you the best return on your investment, you’ve formed strategic alliances with businesses that expand your offering, your markets, your distribution channels and ultimately, your business.
You’ve created systems around the tactics and activities that are driving your growth and you’ve recorded everything so your team can work efficiently.
Now it’s time to automate.
Your business can’t scale if every email must be sent manually, or if a customer must speak to a live agent to get the status of an order.
There’s an App for That
The time you spent systemizing your business should have given you a firm idea of the tasks that are done repeatedly. These are great things to automate if you can. These days, with the tools and software available to businesses, there are very few things that can’t be automated.