Growing any business is a challenge but if you have made it this far as a business owner, you are already in a strong position – you already provide security and a salary for yourself, your workforce and you also have the flexibility and control over your own business growth depending on what your end game is. But have you even given any thought as to your future plans for the business? Do you want to expand, sell or have an MBO? There is no point in meticulous long term planning unless you have an end goal to set your sights on.
Here at CPG Executive, we like to share our expertise around business growth strategies with entrepreneurs and help you to realise your full business potential.
So what are the fundamentals of increasing the value of your business?
You are your business, so it is imperative that you have a business model that works – with and without you being present. You need to be assured that when you are away from the business that it can function at 100% productivity.
Building a strong management infrastructure is key; this is around key, core people, systems and procedures and when all three complement each other, revenue is increased.
Executing a business & sales strategy from a leadership perspective; develop ways in which you can expand through new products, new acquisition and new geographical locations.
Developing a second tier leadership team is critical to growth and success; take a deeper look at how much you invest in training and development, analyse the benefits, and develop yourself too! Look at how you wish to grow; if you are turning over £1m and projecting to turn over £10m in 5 years, then the skill sets you need in order to grow will be very different.
Be a visionary
Do a future visionary exercise – what do you want your business to look like?
For entrepreneurs, leadership and not management is the number one challenge. Develop your second tier core management level and execute your strategy for recruiting talented professionals.
If business is strong; allow yourself to step out of the business and let your infrastructure take over whilst you focus on the expansion options available to you. This is leadership, not management, and this is where radical growth can happen. Avoid being sucked into micromanaging your business.
Work your plan downwards not upwards. This way you have the competitive edge by not being bogged down with the detail and leave room for some visionary thinking and clarity.
Eyeing up the competition
Where do you fit in your industry sector? Who are your direct competitors and what are they doing better (or worse hopefully) than you? Who is growing and who is standing still? Do some website research and competitor analysis to make sure you are as effective as possible in your market. Mystery shopping on your competitors for 360 degree feedback will help with your overall offering and help you create a stand out niche position to gain competitive advantage.
The ever changing world we live in
Some people and business do not embrace change, but there is one factor that will always change and that is the external environment; some changes are so dramatic that they are noticed immediately, others may creep up on an industry over a period of time or be largely ignored.
Changes come in all shapes and sizes from customers’ needs changing, new technologies being established, employee skills needing revising or new legal frameworks being implemented. So where are you in this ever changing world we live in?
Breakdown and analyse your competitors position then breakdown and analyse yours
Look at your business planning and identify what your competition is already doing
Make good use of trade associations and affiliations
Analyse market trends – local, national and international
Identify any change in demographics and respond
Implement effective macro and micro evaluation where needed
Look at how you can enhance shareholder value and influence multiples
Ensure your business is future-proof and your systems and processes can survive due diligence; every investor and stakeholder will need accurate KPI’s and data.
If you would like to discover ways to increase value in your company and perhaps redefine your business journey and end goals, get in touch with me; Helen Roberts at CPG Executive today.
Whether you’re a bolt manufacturing company in Bolton, or a hair replacement clinic in Harley Street, or a Financial Services company in the city, it’s utterly crucial to employ and retain the right staff. And, the smaller the company, the more leverage (or mayhem) each individual employee could potentially make upon the organisation and bottom line.
As any well seasoned SME owner will tell you, a business can only rise and fall by the strength of its staff. Get your talent sourcing & retention right, and your business can experience smooth and consistent growth, with burgeoning ROI’s and leapfrogging the competition for market share. Get it wrong and the ramifications can be equally deep – leading to lost opportunity, steep costs and the gut wrenching prospect of having to dispose of staff and start the re-hiring process all over again. That’s time and money most SME’s can ill afford to lose.
Entrepreneurs and SME owners are often so delightfully focused and self driven, that they believe the same of all others. They often possess an energy and unrelenting drive as they try to move their business from vision to reality. Unfortunately, not all employees will buy into the same vision with the same gleeful enthusiasm – which is why hiring the right staff, at the right time is so very important. The last thing an SME owner needs as they grapple with the bigger issues – like addressing cashflow and securing new contracts – is to deal with employees that are frustrating bottlenecks rather than part of a well orchestrated team.
So, when it comes to staff recruitment the advice could not be clearer – do it once, and do it right! Here are some suggestions to get the recruitment process right:
1. Spend A Thorough Amount Of Time And Thought On The Recruitment Process. It’s shocking how many SME owners simply don’t plan the recruitment of a new hire. It is important to ask the right questions before engaging in the talent search process – what skill shortages will the new hire address? What should their deliverables be? How will these deliverables be measured? The more thought the SME owner invests into the recruitment process, the more any potential new hire will be the right one instead of an expensive and soul destroying nightmare.
2. Develop A Well Devised Job Specification. Identify the tasks that the new hire will be responsible for, and merge these with the skills your business needs in order to grow. The more detailed and clear your job specification, the more likely you will be able to attract the right candidates for interview.
3. Devise A Consistent Interview Process When Interviewing Applicants. Don’t just “wing it”. Determine a well thought out interview process that will help identify the right candidate and filter out unsuitable ones. Revert to the skill sets and job specification we talked about above. Make sure the same series of questions and tests are applied to each candidate so that their responses may be accurately gauged. By wielding the right series of questions and tests, the interview process will help distinguish genuinely good candidates from those with just a good CV.
4. Don’t Ignore The Personalities – Be A Culture Vulture. While any new hire needs to be technically proficient, they also need to fit seamlessly into the culture of the organisation. Staff conflicts can happen because of personality clashes – and when this is the case, even a group of talented individuals may find themselves trapped in a toxic work environment, leading to reduced morale and productivity. A good talent search process will account for these soft issues during the interview process.
5. Hire A Reputed Recruitment Agency. In reality, while the above process is the right way to go about putting in place the best new hire, many SME owners simply don’t have the necessary experience or bandwidth for this. This is when hiring an expert recruitment company can be highly beneficial. The right talent search agency will first analyse your business, it’s needs and the requirement of the role – and identify the most suitable candidates for interview.
Building a dream team remains one of the most elusive and difficult aspects of business, and is a crucial requirement for growth and success. While recruitment can be time consuming, it is one of the best investments you can make for your business. Because, when you hire the right talent, the impact on business ROI can be many multiples of the investment in personnel.
CPG have been an established talent search and recruitment agency operating mainly across the UK & Ireland. Over the past 15 years, CPG have partnered countless companies to find the right staff to solve skill shortages and help accelerate business growth. The company also prides itself for helping business integrate and train staff as part of the wider business strategy. While other recruitment companies switch off once a role is filled, it’s only the starting point for CPG who are dedicated to improving ROI.
I’ve spent the past 20 years growing businesses; my own, as well as coaching & mentoring thousands of other people to start and grow theirs. I’ve witnessed incredible successes and spectacular failures along the way. There are many reasons some small companies grow and others don’t. There are external factors like market size, competition and demand. And internal factors; to do with human performance – leadership and operations. In every industry, there are companies that grow and dominate, while others stagnate or shrink and ultimately fail. I am frequently asked why so many businesses fail to grow. This post focuses on some of the key reasons; in my opinion, why businesses fail to grow.
1. Lack of ambition. How driven is the business owner to grow? A small company is usually a reflection of the owner’s wants, desires, needs and personality. Businesses are set up for many reasons. Some for lifestyle purposes to have more flexibility and spend more time playing golf, tennis, or spend more time with their kids. Some owners are super ambitious and want to build a high performance business, an empire and others are happy making a living to pay the bills and live life on their terms. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that — it can however impact the rate of growth and explain that some businesses are designed to stay small.
2. Business owner error. This is probably the number one reason why so many small businesses fail to grow. As an entrepreneur you need to wear many hats and be responsible for all aspects of your business including: sales & business development, marketing, HR & talent management, finances, operations, IT. Many struggle wearing all hats and tend to focus on the think they like as opposed to critical drivers for the business. They find it difficult to multi task; juggle numerous things and not drop the ball. Business is a long distant sport and is not for th feint hearted. You need to be 100 per cent committed and nothing less. Take the good days with the bad days and dust yourself down and pick yourself up time and time again. Many business owners don’t have the stomach for it in the long term.
3. Hiring the wrong people. Having the right people is paramount to the growth & success of your business. You cannot build a great company without the right people. Hiring the wrong people can be expensive and impact the rate of growth of your business. This requires a skilled hiring strategy and the courage to make the changes that are necessary as the company grows. This is easier said than done — especially when it turns out that people who were “right” at the beginning are no longer “right” in their roles as the company grows. Many business owners believe they can’t attract great talent based on their size and the salary they are offering and ‘settle’ with the people they hire.
4. Poor leadership skills. Many business owners are inexperienced leaders. Inexperienced leaders will find it difficult to attract and retain the very best talent and will find it difficul to truly motivate their team and bring out the best in them. If a business owner is unable to build a high performing team and share his / her overall vision and direction for the business; it’s difficult to inspire, encourage, motivate and support people to go all out for you. An uninspired team will underperform and adversely impact your bottom line. .
5. Growth strategies & infrastructure. Many business owners lack clarity on where their business is at and more importantly where it’s going. They don’t have clearly defined growth strategies, or clear business and revenue models to build scale. Without the right infrastructure in place having the right systems, procedures, processes, controls and overall quality in the business, it will stand still. .
6. Fans not customers. The very best businesses keep abreast of market changes and continue to delight their customers with new products and services and provide top notch customer services; making their customers huge fans; encouraging loyalty. If the business owner doesn’t share the same values for championing the customer and giving them the white glove treatment; it’s likely customer retention will be low.
7. Technology. Many small businesses fail to invest in technology making it difficult to have instant access to much needed information to run a successful business. They don’t have access to customer lists which prevents them from making contact with and analysing trends. They don’t have real time information on their finances. With the lack of accounting systems they don’t have an up to date cash position. Technology can be expensive so small businesses often stick to excel which can be limited in what it can provide in comparison to what else is available on the market today.
8. Marketing. This is one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face today and perhaps a key reason why businesses fail to grow. Many business owners don’t understand marketing and what it is and its importance to their business. They’re not clear on their brand, brand values or their target audience making it difficult to engage the customer and laser target marketing initiatives to speak to them directly. The businesses that truly understand marketing will continue to attract new customers and will flourish and the ones that don’t wont. .
9. Doing the same thing expecting a different result. Whether you are talking about products or services, the market is always changing, and your products and services have to change with it. A lack of foresight and planning and innovation makes the company stand still. Sometimes changes in a market are slow and subtle; sometimes, they are instant and dramatic leaving many businesses exposed.
10. Lack of investment. Whether it’s for new technology, larger office space, more employees or equipment, growing companies require more cash than non-growing companies. Many business owners don’t know how to go about finding investment for their business. Getting this cash may require borrowing money, finding more investors or using up whatever cash is on hand. Some entrepreneurs opt to run with what they have and try to grow incrementally year on year which takes longer to achieve growth than perhaps an injection of capital would do to the business. .
11. Living too close to the line. Many entrepreneurs spend too much of their company profits without thinking of reinvesting it to build a bigger, better, stronger business. They therefore have limited funds to invest in new products and services and to provide funds to develop a robust marketing campaign leaving them cash strapped and under immense pressure to keep costs low for core business activity.
Many of the thousands of business owners I work with; generally hate networking. They feel uncomfortable; going in to a crowded room with hundreds of people; they don’t know. They have to muster every ounce of couraqe to go up to a complete stranger to introduce themselves when often uncertain of the reaction they’re going to get and in fact unsure if they’re someone they want / need to talk to in the first place. Over the past few years 1000’s of networking events have sprung up, in an attempt to boost business opportunities. Many of the events are poorly managed, without a particular focus or set agenda and it’s often pot luck as to whether or not you meet potential partners to do business with. Many business owners are adding more and more networking events to their calendar in the quest of finding new business and are disappointed with their lack of results. Two of the key challenges that SME owners face today are; attracting new customers and; not having enough time. It’s often banded around that networking is a fundamental aspect to assist in the growth of your business. I believe it’s absolutely essential to build great partners around you; to accelerate the growth of you; and your business. However networking for networking sake; is a waste of time. It’s important to get clear on what you really want. How many clients do you want / need to hit your targets for this year. Who are your target audience? Where are they? How can you gain access to them? Once you’re clear on this; you can build a strategy around how you can approach them and begin your business development process. Also get clear on who would be a good partner for you; someone you can potentially establish a joint venture with; which will be mutually beneficial.
Many business owners have networking exhaustion. They are tired of ‘prostituting’ there products / services to random people who may not have any interest or need for their products / services. There are too many events, without a specific focus. People leaving with stacks of business cards; and often not even following up. I stand and watch people racing around a room to talk to as many people as they can; as opposed to; identifying two or three key contacts that could truly make the difference to their business and spending time cultivating relationships.
Some people determine a successful event by the number of cards they pick up. I much prefer to focus on few, not many, and establish a true connection. I work with people that I resonate with and that I like, that share my values. I then set up a meeting to explore the potential of working together. If there’s a mutual fit and benefit to work together, off we go; if not, I continue to keep them in my circle and refer business and help them in any way I can and move on.
So enough of doing more of the same; going to another networking event; doing the same thing and expecting a different result; is pure madness.
Change it up; do something differently – get clear on what you want and find out where you need to go and go get it.
Networking Top 10 Tips
1) Get crystal clear on your target audience and how to gain access to.
2) Laser target your events – only attend events that give you access to your TA.
3) Get clear on your objectives for the event – set your intention on what you want to achieve and expect it. Monitor results from events you attend.
4) Focus on giving – not getting. Focus on genuinely trying to solve key business challenges and adding value whilst talking to potential customers.
5) Focus on a few; not many – less is more. Have quality conversations, make a connection. It’s not about how many business cards you can collect.
6) Be authentic; do what you say on the tin. Never make promises you cannot fulfil.
7) Build rapport with people that you like. People that you resonate with and share your values. People do business with people they like.
8) Never ask for business on your first meeting.
9) Take business cards and pass on yours if asked.
10) Follow up the contacts you want to explore doing business with and begin your sales process; don’t miss out on any of the steps. Only do business with people you feel you can genuinely serve.
Like a butterfly, small businesses tend to have short lifespans.
That’s partly because small businesses, by their very nature, have fewer resources to draw on when times get tough — or even when they are too good.
With the odds stacked against them from day one, there are at least as many ways for small businesses to fail as to succeed. Here are 10 common mistakes for entrepreneurs to avoid, drawn from 20 years of experience from CPG Executive Consulting & Entrepreneurs Worldwide founder Helen Roberts and Start Up Britain Champion for Richmond, London.
1. Getting married to your idea. Not every idea is a good business idea. We encourage our small-business owners to go through a process of testing their idea by doing research, by speaking to other business owners and really testing to see if it is a viable business.
2. Not doing enough research. Similar to the first mistake, entrepreneurs often fall in love with their latest ideas of products or services without doing the necessary groundwork.
3. Not worrying enough about the owner/CEO. “By taking care of yourself, you can help ensure that you maintain that enthusiasm and positive attitude, which is so much a part of a small-business owner.
4. Failing to create and stick to a plan. Small-business owners hate to hear that advice. But a business plan helps you think through all the strategic elements and discover where you might need a Plan B.
5. Making yourself irreplaceable. (Entrepreneurs) don’t develop systems and processes, so the business relies too much on them.
6. Lack of money. Small businesses often run into trouble because they run out of capital to grow the business or survive a slowdown.
7. Losing touch with your customer. Sometimes in the day-to-day, crisis-to-crisis environment, there is the potential to miss an opportunity, identify a fatal flaw or see what your customer is doing.
8. Undercutting the market, and your business. Too often, small businesses undercharge for their products and services.
9. Going it alone. Small-business owners often tend to be islands unto themselves. That independence can be positive, but the risk is missing out on a “wealth of information and wisdom” from those around him or her.
10. No marketing or sales focus. You may have the greatest product or service in the world, but it rarely sells itself. Getting caught up in the day-to-day minutiae, and not getting the word out or contacting sales leads, can mean slow growth or even a slow death for your business.