Ask any business owner if they have a growth objective for next year and you’re sure to receive a resounding “yes!” Revenue and profitability, of course, are the primary growth factors on the minds of most business owners as well they should be if you want your business to survive and prosper into the future. However, when planning for growth, for example, deciding exactly what to do to achieve your growth goals, I would suggest expanding those factors beyond revenue and profitability to include Reputation, Expertise and Perspective, and here’s why.
When you strip away the assets of your company, either inventory or intellectual capital, all you really have left is your reputation. Customers and clients buy your products and services because of your reputation, i.e. your ability to either create a solution for your customers or lead them to one. So if perception is reality, or if at least it has something to do with it, business growth must include growing your reputation. A few excellent ways to do this include:
— Conducting surveys that will interest your customers and ideally present new and valuable information to them.
— Writing letters to the editors of trade publications and periodicals that your target customers read (and don’t forget on-line publications).
— Preparing and publishing “White Papers” that research and analyze important topics for your target customers – keeping your writing objective fact-filled and devoid of any marketing hype.
— Joining a business association that clearly adds value for its constituents and taking on a leadership role, e.g. association officer, director or committee chair. Reputation is about demonstrating leadership, creativity and results in your market niche and these tactics will help you do so. They also help position you and your company as “experts.”
Business growth should also include expanding your products and services or expanding your target markets, or some combination of each. This must be done very carefully of course, considering the classic and valid argument that you can’t be all things to all people. However, customer needs and wants are constantly changing and so are attitudes toward change, with an increasing willingness among customers to try something new. You too can capitalize on change and this willingness to try new things if you are willing to experiment with a few new things. A couple ways to grow your expertise and experience include:
— Offer a product or service to a new target market for free or at a significant discount.
— Offer a scaled down product or service to your target customers pro bono.
— Create a new distribution channel. For example, convert a training seminar to a book or perhaps convert a book to a training seminar.
Keep in mind that expertise is about quality and creating more value. A little creativity and a willingness to try something new can go a long way!
Growth and perspective is much more about you than it is about your business – it’s all about learning. Developing strong and valid points of view are invaluable to a business leader and are easily sparked by getting away from the routine. Some ways to broaden your perspective include:
— Attending seminars and workshops.
— Enrolling in college courses (anything you like).
— Reading at least one non-fiction book per month.
— Joining mastermind groups.
— Joining collaborative strategy groups. Again, there are numerous opportunities to grow perspective. Just be sure to choose carefully and be willing to contribute in order to receive.
Growth is a requirement for business, and we all want to grow our revenue and profitability. However, projecting growth just by extrapolating last year’s numbers, or by choosing a revenue goal of where you really want to be, won’t necessarily get you there. Growing your reputation, expertise and perspective will.