Here is our guide to the top seven growth secrets for entrepreneurs:
1) Be Visible
There’s little use being the best kept secret in town. Access your customers and contacts through as many channels as possible, including Social Media. In our recent study, we noticed that all our top performing clients were spending more time marketing than 12 months ago and had a plan in place to conduct regular activity to remain visible. They had simple action plans with daily, weekly and monthly activities planned in advance.
Do you have a plan in place to tell the world about what you do (or at least the people in your neighbourhood)?
What is going to make the biggest difference to your business – today, this week, this month, this year? If you can be clear about what will be the key determinant of your success in 2012 and focus on that, at the expense of the less important stuff, then you'll have a much greater chance of achieving your objectives. Obvious really, but our most successful clients are awesome at retaining this focus and being ruthless about sticking to their plans.
3) Manage your cash
The £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme announced in the recent Budget might create a nice headline for the government, but the reality is that many small businesses are finding it harder to acquire the finance they need to grow their businesses right now. While a business can survive for a short time without sales or profits, without cash it will die (but you knew this already).
4) Your customer list is your gold mine
Listen to your customers. What do they really, really want? People will pay for products and services that make a difference to them and their businesses. Have you surveyed your clients recently and asked them what additional products and services they'd like to buy from you?
Also, do you ask your customers for referrals? Our top performing clients all do. They even have strategies in place to ensure they maximise this opportunity - do you?
5) Know your numbers
The numbers don't lie. Do you have a financial forecast for the year? Can you assess your current financial position at the click of a button? Do you have a dashboard for your business that includes leading and lag indicators?
•Leading indicators - these tell you want is likely to happen in the future, e.g. number of proposals issued (combined with a historic conversion rate) is an indicator of the amount of future work you are likely to receive.
•Lag indicators - these tell you what has already happened. The amount of money in your bank account tells you what has happened in the past, not what is going to happen in the future.
6) Don't forget about YOU
You are your business’s most valuable asset. Are you in good shape physically and mentally to build and grow your business? How well do you manage your time? Do you need to brush up on or develop new skills? Perhaps now is the time to book something in your diary that will help you be the best leader of your business that you can be. Is there a course you've always wanted to go on, or perhaps you've been thinking about some one-to-one coaching?
Or maybe you just need some time 'off' to re-charge your batteries and your enthusiasm?
7) It's time for a change
The world has changed in the past 12 months...... have you? What new opportunities are out there now that weren't there a year ago and how can you evolve your offering to meet the new needs of your clients? If you don't adapt your business to the new world we live in, your competitors will.
By Peter Czapp, Director, The Wow Company - Proactive Accountancy for Small Businesses