Meadow CreekNews

How to Grow a Small Business

Filed under Marketing, Office Space & Virtual Offices, Small Business, Venture Capital and Start Ups on October 23, 2010

If you’ve survived the recession, you are probably eager to start growing your business again. Hopefully, you’ve taken the opportunity to get you marketing side of the business in order so that when the business begins to flow you’re positioned to take a larger share. If not, it’s not too late to make it happen.

Small business owners generally spend 16 hours per week on the “administration” of their business and less than half that amount of time growing their business. To the extent that the most valuable resource a small business owner has is his or her time, one cannot solve the marketing problem without addressing the administration problem.

Marketing involves time and every minute you invest in administration is taking away from marketing or revenue generating work. The problem is that the administration has to be done and most people don’t go into business for themselves so they can market, but so they can do what they enjoy like build homes, paint homes, do finish carpentry, plumb, plaster, wire, roof, provide mortgages, keep books or all of the other valuable services represented by the members and associate member of the Master Builders Association. For most, sales and marketing is last thing on the list of things to do even when business is slow.

Here are 4 simple steps to getting the situation under control and increasing market share during the recovery.

One of those things easier said than done. Some people are organized and some aren’t. You can usually tell by looking at person’s garage. Most people organize their garage once a year and promise themselves they are never going to let it get messed up again. It generally last for about a month and degenerates until the following Spring and the cycle begins anew. Your administration probably follows a similar cycle revolving around tax time.

Don’t try to over organize, it will never happen. Simply establishing a process for how you’re going to handle the paperwork associated with your business is good enough. Something simple like bills in the red bucket, time sheets in the blue bucket, proposals in the white bucket etc. and a schedule as to when you are going to go through those buckets each month will do.
Not having a pile of unorganized paper sitting on your desk will make the process far less forbidding and it will take much less time.

Be Easy to do Business With
This is another process issue. Not having a plan as to how you work with people makes the job more difficult. Organize your thinking as to how you want people to perceive you as a supplier and what you need to do to make it happen. Simply bootstrapping your response to every phone call, piece of mail, job site request or any other communication is creating a nightmare of disorganized thinking and forgotten promises.
If you want to grow, you had better get your sales process nailed down. A checklist of the elements of your sales process and the actions you need to take will make the job easier and increase your close rate.

Have a Plan
Take the time to decide what you would like to do to promote your business over the next 12 months. If you don’t have a plan, there will not be much incentive for you to do anything at all. If you lay out a schedule of things you would like to do and the results you want to achieve, then there is at least a motivation to do something.
This can be a one pager that lays out 4 things you want to do over the next year to bring in new business, retain existing accounts, thank your customers or reward your best customers. It’s a reminder that there is work to be done and a cost to not doing it.

Get Help
Most businesses are one person shows. One person just can’t run an entire business, but most are not ready to take on a full-time employee. Here are some easy and inexpensive ways of bridging the gap between doing it all yourself and having a staff to help out.

Use Phone Answering
Being interrupted by the phone constantly throughout the day is unproductive. It interferes with what you are doing, who you are talking to and usually makes for a bad conversation with the person that called. Have a virtual office and let someone take your calls and respond at the right time when you can provide your full attention.
Use a service that is going to learn enough about your business to talk intelligently to people that call and know when a call is urgent and needs to be responded to immediately. Make sure that there will be a limited number of people answering so that your customers get to know them and view them as a virtual extension of your business.

Use Marketing Services
You know you don’t like doing it and will find every reason to do something else, so have someone else do it. They can work with you to develop a plan and then make it happen. There are things in your business that only you can do and marketing isn’t one of them.
If your business is going to grow, you have to do something to make it happen. Let others do the heavy lifting on the marketing side and save your time for closing the sale.

Use Administrative Services
Without time spent on administration you, don’t get paid, your suppliers don’t get paid, proposals don’t get submitted and generally the business grinds to a halt. At the same time it is the least productive work a business owner can do. It needs to be done, but not by you. Get a virtual assistant to keep your affairs in order.
Hopefully, 2010 will have a strong 4th quarter and we’ll be charging into 2011 like a raging bull. That is not very likely for the economy as a whole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.

Richard Gabel

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