Planning for Small Business Growth

lawrence auls business growthThere’s still a lot of doubt about the economy, but from anecdotal experience, it seems that many small businesses are growing again. This is great news, and it’s time for all of these entrepreneurs to begin preparing to face the challenges of having a growing business. With clearly defined development responsibilities, technological solutions designed with intent & benchmarkable goals, serious consideration of the effect on customer service and/or client relationship management, and consistent training of all staff (particularly sales), businesses will be able to protect themselves from the pitfalls of growing at a time of relative economic turbulence.

Of course, overseeing all of these vital responsibilities falls squarely on the owners and founders of small businesses, and there’s no clear delineation as to when those tasks can be delegated. A good (and very general) rule of thumb is to pass on responsibilities once the demands of the business and the development of new business each become so great that they can’t be reasonably handled alone. This is called a ‘conscious uncoupling.’ Your business model, as well as internal business dynamics, will dictate how development will be handled in the future. That’s where professionals like me come in handy!

A big challenge I see time and again with small business owners is the difficulty owners have in giving up some of these vital responsibilities. It often helps to think of the transfer less as delegation, and more as empowering the colleagues and new professional hires that they trust so much. The owner’s role must become more about oversight of the work, ensuring it lines up with business goals and plans for scaling.

For companies that sell products, it’s very important not to equate distribution partnerships with sales. Working with large distribution contracts is great, but to ensure your product actually sells, you’ll need to look at other ways to expedite the ‘closing of the sales loop.’ Branding, promotions, activations, marketing campaigns for awareness – all of these need to be considered, otherwise your product will be gathering dust on shelves until an inventory manager replaces it with a competitor.

As long as you remain focused on specific objectives, hopefully with the help of a business development professional, any tactics you devise should get you closer to your goals. There is no rulebook, and creativity can often be rewarded. Look at your business model, the industry at large, and the particulars of your organization as you seek guidance and continue on your road to success!

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