At the end of the last month we welcomed Karen Priest to the business hub for the first of many workshops she will be facilitating for us this year.
Karen Priest is the Principal of Smart Talent, a boutique consultancy delivering training and business development solutions. Karen has over 30 years of experience in business management in both the private and public sectors. She has been self-employed, worked as a Regional Director, General Manager, Board Director, CEO, and Director of Sales and Marketing across the globe in a wide range of industries. Karen and her team understand small businesses. They are passionate about simplifying things and helping business owners connect the pieces of the puzzle in a simple but effective way.
In order to identify the strategies needed to develop your business first ask yourself, What do you want to get out of reading this? Consider, Where am I going, and what is my strategy for moving forward, what is my strategy for growth?
If your business strategy is that you just take any work that you can, one day you might realise that you have gone off your original path, your original purpose for starting your business. Ask yourself, how are you going to position your business? Most people roll their eyes and say you aren’t going to make us do a business plan but if you don’t have a plan how are you going to get where you want to be?
Before we look at growth strategies, we need to look at everything that comes before it. To do this we will divide it into four sessions or sections looking at each area you will focus on. Getting these fundamentals right will lead to growth.
One: Research and Planning
Business plan, mission and vision, where are you going, do you know where you are going, what is your end game and possibly your exit strategy.
Two: Targeting Customers
You need to be clear about what business you are in, and what you are providing? Your specific customers, do you know who they are, or do you think you do?
Three: Marketing and Promotion
Understanding who your prospective customers are will help you target them and turn them into active customers. What’s your unique selling point and what problem are you solving for them?
Four: Growth Strategies
Growth strategies that you can consider. How can you grow your profits?
Research and planning
Lots of businesses, small to medium and even large ones, most of the time don’t have a business plan or strategy and generally it is all for the same reason, they don’t have time to make one.
Research and knowing your audience and setting goals are important. Particularly setting goals, because if you don’t set those goals and set a timeline for them, those plans get pushed back further and further or never happen at all. A strategy doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be simple and something you can share with your whole team. It doesn’t have to be overly formal either, it can be a bit of fun. We are all different and unique, there is no perfect formula or one solution fits all. Most of the time you have an idea about what will and won’t work for your business but some things you will have to test. What makes the biggest difference is being consistent and making sure that you have a plan to work towards. You might be a small business in a small town, but even as a small business, it is important to have that big picture thinking. If you have a plan, you can take a step back and look at the bigger picture, this allows you to stay on track and accomplish your goals
Karen shared that using this concept and looking at the bigger picture has allowed her to start saying no to people. Sometimes people get caught up in the, better not say no to that or this but you need to prioritise your time and find a way to focus on what you need to achieve and say no to things you don’t need or want. That is why you need big picture thinking and a business strategy, it gives you a view of the future and where you are heading.
Having a plan also allows you to be prepared if something bad happens. If you don’t have a plan and haven’t anticipated or thought about it, what would it look like for your business if the worst happened?
A business plan is essentially about thinking and planning ahead as much as we can. Writing it down, making it real and easier to hold yourself accountable, and adding a timeline to it is the most effective way to achieve your goals and remember what you are working towards.
Creating a Business Strategy is easier than you think, start by asking yourself these questions.
Who are we?
– mission statement, vision and values. We should be living and breathing the values in the business.
Where are we at now?
– How are we performing now? Through customer’s eyes and financially? SWOT? See where you’re at. You may have done this initially but because everything changes so quickly, it is something to do every year, could even be done every 90 days.
Where would we like to be?
- What are our goals and priorities?
How will we get there?
- What actions do we need to take and when?
What does success look like?
- What targets will we put in place to measure success?
As a result, planning will help you identify the steps to reach your business goals and will give you more control over the activities.
Who are we? And what business are we actually in?
What do we offer? What is our current mission, and what are we offering our clients/customers? What are our hopes and aspirations for the future? And our values.
Mission statement – right now what are we offering clients/customers? What are our hopes and visions for the future? What are our values?
Thinking about your mission statement, what are you offering right now? We might think you are offering something but you might not be offering it in a way that is true to what we say we are.
Reflective of your company aspects, which customers are you servicing or planning to serve, and what product or service are you offering.
What is your point of difference and what needs do you want to satisfy?
What are we really doing and how are we doing it?
Vision – you need to think about the future in some way.
Where are we heading? There will be curves along the way but if you have a vision you know where you are heading and something to work towards.
If you have a clear vision it also allows you to know what you don’t want for your business.
Mission statement – what you are doing currently
Vision statement – why you are doing it
Visions are broader than their business, it is what impact they are trying to have on the world, country, or community.
Strong core values can align your team and the way they engage, with each other and your customers. It is more than just a bunch of words, it should be the beliefs and attitudes that you expect your business to operate, how they should behave and how work should be done. Sets a standard acceptable business practice.
What core values can do, is help a business react quickly, even when the unexpected happens. Your team will know exactly how you would want them to react.
Helps attract the right people to your business, a shared code of behaviour.
They also help educate the customer about your business.
Where are we at now?
Not just finally, in the eyes of our customers, consider completing a PEST and SWOT analysis to understand all the different angles of your business.
When you are thinking about setting your own vision and what you are doing in your business, these factors all come into play.
A SWOT analysis essentially allows any business to evaluate its position in the market. Helps us determine our competitive position. Also gives us a fact-based analysis to make decisions.
Tips when reviewing your SWOT:
Look for more business? Leverage your strengths.
What weaknesses do you have? How can mitigate them?
What opportunities do you have? Have you tapped into them yet?
What plans do you have for threats? Are they out of your control or can you put things in place to help control them and protect your business?
Where would we like to be? – Creating Goals and Objectives
Your goals are broader, the general outcomes over a longer timeframe and don’t include the method of getting there.
Your objectives are more specific, actionable targets to be done in a specific timeframe, which allows you to prioritise by importance.
How will we get there?
Smart actions – are very specific.
Whos involved and responsible, what is it that you want to accomplish, when is it going to happen and how are you going to measure it?
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
There is no point in setting a goal that is not achievable. You want your goals to be specific and know what success looks like but they need to be measurable because if you can’t measure it, you won’t know if you have succeeded.
A Stretch goal can still be realistic but you need to ask yourself what conditions need to be in place to achieve your stretch goal?
If there is no timeframe attached to that goal there is no sense of urgency, if there is no timeframe it is not a priority. Could even add a reward to it.
What does success look like?
What targets will we have in place to know we have succeeded?
It might be signing up more customers to loyalty programs or membership. Or increasing sales or click-through rates on campaigns.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t change it.” – Peter Drucker
It’s good to have something visual so that everyone can see how you are going with your goals. It will motivate yourself and your team to achieve them faster.
Knowing your customer with help increase the success of your business.
Who are the best customers? Satisfied ones. If people like doing business with you they refer you to other people.
Do we really know who we are targeting?
Mass marketing in general is no longer effective. You need to know who your target markets are and be specific to them.
Market segmentation. Geographic, demographic, psychographic, behavioural.
Important to have a target market, a large group of people that you want to reach. The target market should influence your business in general terms, where your target audience should be a more specific group in that group. Personalise your message to each audience within the group.
Targeted Marketing allows you to manage expectations and provide the expected product/ experience which leads to satisfied customers/clients.
To find your target market and audience there are a few important questions that you should ask yourself.
Who, What, Why, When and How?
- Profile your customers to find your ideal customer.
- Research is easier than you realise, databases, face-to-face, surveys, social media, analytics, reviews, forums, groups, chamber of commerce, shire, communities, google trends and industry bodies.
- Calls to action – are you putting something out there that gets the customer to have a reaction to it.
- Competitions, loyalty programs.
- Competitors – you can also find out so much about your competition using these same methods. How visible are they?
- Customers matter – a business without customers won’t survive
Knowing your customers helps you succeed
- Satisfied customers tell others WOM
- They become loyal and repeat customers
- They lead to increased sales and new opportunities
- Establishes a good business reputation
If you don’t have all of these things established and you are not doing them well you can’t thrive and get to the point where you want to be. How do we know when to say no to something if we don’t know where we are going?
Marketing & Promotions
Having a marketing strategy will help you reach prospects and gain customers.
Establishing a Unique Selling Proposition/Point (USP) will help set you apart from your competitors and make you stand out in the crowd.
To identify your USP there are a couple of things you can look at.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors?
- Why do repeat clients/customers like you?
- What makes you better than your competitors?
- What do you offer that no one else does?
Keep it short but powerful. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
Example – Bunnings
Tagline – Lowest prices are just the beginning
USP – Hardware products and expert advice at the lowest prices.
The Seven P’s, points to look at in your business whether you are selling a tangible thing or a service/experience.
Product – what you are selling
- Where they are seen/sold
- Multiple channels
- Direct marketing
- Promotions/ PR
- Recruitment and training
- Customer service
- Easy doing business
- Presentable vs run down
- Five senses
Try asking your friends and family to also look at these and give their opinion on each.
Can you sell more of your products to existing customers or do you need to expand, whether that is a new product or a new market or potentially a new product for a new market?
You can also utilise your surroundings to diversify your business.
Marketing & Promotions will help you reach prospects and turn them into customers.
Without promotions and marketing your brand won’t capture customers because there are so many options out there, you need to be the one to get their attention.
Consider what you are currently doing, and look at other options that you could consider or do more of.
A lot of businesses have moved away from traditional marketing, how they are still important and worth considering even though some aren’t so as easy to measure.
- Radio ads
- Magazines or newspapers
- Short-term promotions for a particular product or service
- Subcontract people to directly interact with potential customers
- It has come back around because people get so little mail these days that they take notice.
- You can target a direct group of people, whether it be locals in the area or other suburb that has a high density of your target audience.
- Press releases
- Getting up-to-date information out to the public
- Sponsorships, product & networking launches, partnerships
Online / Website
- Mobile responsive 70% of traffic comes from mobile devices
Search engine optimisation
- Paid campaigns
- Getting your name out there
- E tip trick or books
- Seasonably relevant
Social media platforms
- Is your engagement converting to sales
- Find the right platforms that are going to get to your target audience and give you a return on investment
- Use a planner or content scheduler to block out major times and events and then fill in around them.
Use your online community groups to get the message out there.
Having marketing & promotion strategies will help grow your business
It increases your brand awareness, leading to more sales, a stronger brand reputation and builds your customer base.
Having a growth strategy plan provides direction for the future of your business. Areas to look at when considering growth for your business.
- Growth – number of employees
- Outsourcing – virtual assistant or freelance services
- Expansion – current location suitability
- New regions/countries or online
- New systems to automate
Marketing/ sales / customers
- Growth – market share
- Growth – Customer share
- Developing new products/services
- More leads
How to increase customer satisfaction, they love free things, look into potentially offering something free
- Templates or how to
- Vouchers/discounts/ referrals
- Reports – inspections, appraisals
- Advice – short intro or consult
- Merchandise – sign up for incentives
- Money-back guarantee