Business Sorted SME Growth Tips
We enjoyed the Business Sorted event at Ashton Gate earlier this month (September 2016), and spoke to lots of Bristol business owners about business growth there. In this first instalment of a planned four-part series of weekly blog posts, we present some of the insights we gathered on the day about ways to grow your business.
Lead from the front!
Strong leadership is a vitally important ingredient for the success of any business. Keep in mind a clear vision of what you want to achieve, believe you can achieve it, and pursue that goal with real confidence and unfailing determination. Confidence is contagious, so if you believe in your goals, products and services, others will believe in them too.
Know what you’re selling; focus all your strategies on that
Every business has something to sell, whether it’s products or services. Product development is an essential part of your sales strategy. In order to sell effectively, you need to be able to show expert knowledge of what you are selling – what it is, how it works, and why others should buy it. What does it do? How does it compare with the competition in terms of quality and value for money? Identify its unique selling points, and then focus your marketing strategy on highlighting those USPs.
From small acorns, mighty oaks will grow
You may need to start your business on a relatively small scale, as though planting a seed.
- Monitor the development of that seed closely, nourishing and nurturing it as needed under changing business conditions, to give it every chance to prosper and grow.
- Experiment with tweaks and changes to products, services and marketing strategies in response to customer feedback, sales figures and shifting market forces.
- Re-invest operating profits in premises, equipment, stock, staff, training and marketing, according to the most pressing current needs of your business. This can drive a cycle of growth that gradually transforms your seed into the full-fledged business of your dreams.
Invest and bank wisely
Bank loans and third-party venture capital investment can also be valuable means to more rapid growth for ambitious businesses with strong potential.
But be aware that investment funded by borrowing is considerably riskier than the pursuit of organic growth, and can also be much more expensive.
- Creditors require regular repayments including interest payments, and these must be budgeted for out of sales revenues.
- Venture capitalists typically demand partial ownership of your company in return for their investments, without doing any of the hard work, so there are major costs attached to this form of funding.
When choosing business banking services, you’d be wise to compare and contrast the services offered and charges levied by a wide range of different banks in your area, since they can vary considerably.
Watch your cashflow!
Keep a close watch on your cash flow. Staying solvent is essential for keeping your business afloat.
- You need enough money to pay your overheads, including staff wages and suppliers, at all times.
- Sales can go up and down unpredictably, and not all customers pay in good time.
- Try to maintain a decent-sized cash buffer to allow for all eventualities.
Many apparently successful businesses have gone into administration and failed as a result of short-term cash flow problems.
Congratulations to Jennifer Rollason (right), Marketing and Office Manager at Dial A Geek, who won two bottles of wine in our raffle at this event. Jennifer loves writing about IT, and was telling us all about her exciting travel plans.
Thank you to everyone who contributed ideas at the event. Good luck with growing your business!
Watch out for Part Two in our series of SME Growth Tips, coming soon.