There aren’t many entrepreneurs I know who are content to rest on their laurels. We’re just not built that way. We make something, and then we want to make it better, bigger. Striving for growth is healthy and keeps us focused on innovating, creating, and improving.
But if you’re starting out, or even if you’re established and in a rut, it can be difficult to decide how exactly to drive your growth. What steps should you take to inject energy and vigor back into your company? I’ve compiled four road-tested strategies for you.
1. Focus on why. It happens all the time. I’m talking to a business owner who wants to grow her company, but when I ask why, she looks puzzled. Why does it matter why? Because the specific actions you’ll take will vary depending on the outcome you’re working toward. So if you want to grow your business because you have personal financial goals you’re looking to achieve, you might lay out one strategy. But if you’re wanting to fund new ventures that will position you and your company as thought leaders in your industry, then you might take a whole different approach. Examine why you want to grow.
2. Don’t obsess over social media. Don’t get me wrong…social media can be an awesome tool for building brands and communicating with customers. But it only works if you’re actually connecting with your ideal customers. So Facebook might be great for middle-aged folks, but if you’re targeting Millennials, Facebook’s probably a waste of time. Find out where your customers are and how you can reach them, keeping in mind that it might not be via social media at all.
3. Specialize. Yes, it’s my mantra: The riches are in the niches. While you might think that narrowing your focus would end up limiting your customer base, and in fact, you’d be right. But those customers you do appeal to…they’ll be willing to shell out big bucks for a product or service that perfectly meets their specialized needs. We pay more for specialists – whether they’re physicians, attorneys, accountants or landscapers.
4. Be profitable. This strategy might seem obvious, but there’s a specific reason for tying growth to profitability. Say you’ve got a brilliant idea to expand your business, but you lack the funds to implement it. You need an investor, and what do investors want? A sound place to put their money. If your company’s a mess, you’re not a sound investment. Only if you’re running a tight ship will you be able to pull in those coveted investment dollars and achieve your big-picture goals.
Gearing up your business for growth isn’t something that happens accidentally. It requires contemplation, strategy, and plenty of old-fashioned hard work. But if you’re willing to plan and execute, the payoff can be huge. One thing to remember is that the best growth is sustainable growth, rather than a splashy, temporary scheme. It ain’t easy to achieve, but it’s oh-so worth it.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”