I go to a variety of networking events and that word ‘strategy’ comes up regularly. I used to think that this indicated that most small business owners had a strategy for their business and a plan to put it into practice.
Consequently, when I ask more in depth questions I am always surprised to find that many of them don’t have the answers.
I’m not a business consultant, but I’ve been around the block a few times, worked in corporate land, been a business owner myself for approaching 30 years and been a management trainer (in another lifetime!) I’ve learned a lot and I know that a business plan or strategy document that is filed away somewhere isn’t a useful document.
There are some basic things that, once you get them in place, can transform your business growth.
The hard questions
These are the deceptively tough questions – but if you persevere and create comprehensive answers you’ll equip yourself with extremely valuable information that will help you to focus your business.
- What does an ideal customer look like? What are their characteristics – personally and from a business perspective?
- What kind of challenges keep them awake at night? Why are these a problem for them?
- What solutions could you offer to fix their problems? How would they work and what would the outcomes do for their business?
The answers to those questions alone will give you a great start. Now you know what your clients really want and need and that will allow you to present your products or services in a highly focused way.
If you want to get more customers you now know exactly what you’re looking for and can start researching where this kind of person hangs out. That means that when you promote your products or services you’ll be talking to the right people, not just throwing a lot of stuff at a wall and hoping some of it sticks.
And then you’ll need a plan
A strategy alone is not enough, but transforming the strategy into a plan will create a process that can be applied by you and your team. Processes that can be systematised are really useful, that means everyone knows what to do and when to do it and there’s less room for ‘forgetfulness’.
Consistent action is the secret to success.
Measure your results
What are your targets? What do you want to achieve?
These can be sales per month, new customers per month, enquiries, website visits from your social media posts – or something else.
Don’t get diverted by ‘likes’ and ‘comments’, what you need to know is where your sales conversations come from. Include the question ‘how did you find us?’ in all your conversations with potential new customers – and record it. Then you can do more of whatever generates the best results.