Your 7-Step Growth Plan

Updated on 13 February 2015

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Your 7 step growth plan for 2015Many SMEs will have growth as a key goal for the year. Growth in revenue may mean your business will be able to hire more employees or even expand into different markets.

To achieve this, businesses need to be agile and attuned to changing market needs to take advantage of opportunities this year, says Wendy Smith, director in accounting and financial advisory at Deloitte.

Here are Smith’s strategies that entrepreneurs can implement to achieve growth.

1. Identify the whys and hows 

A critical part of every successful business is evaluating what has been working and what hasn’t. This is, according to Smith, known as the “learning before earning”.

“Be clear on your strengths and equip yourself with more information, strategic insights or good advice to achieve clarity on your overall vision, your market and your product or service,” advises Smith.

2. Be more agile 

In today’s rapidly changing marketplace, an agile business is more likely to survive.

“Enterprises will need to be agile and attuned to changing market needs to take advantage of opportunities this year,” says Smith.

3. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses

It is important that business owners critically evaluate their own personal strengths, says Smith. This way, they will be able to make up for those skills they don’t have by hiring individuals with complimentary skills, or by identifying advisors or consultants who can help them.

“This will help them focus on their core strength, that is, leading and running the business,” she says. “The reality is that the perspective of others can provide critical insight into business cycle ups and downs, managing the business and top-line and bottom-line profitability,” she adds.

4. Assess your market place

“Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell,” says Smith. “Companies need to do thorough, focused research and use their knowledge and experience to develop propositions that are in line with market needs,” Smith says.

5. Remember cash flow is king

Cash flow is important in any business, and particularly in growth businesses.

“Ongoing positive cash flow is the lifeblood of business continuity and is absolutely essential to feed bottom-line profits,” says Smith.

Her advice is that business owners should be innovative in the way they approach this. For example, if your company is offering a professional service, you can ask for a deposit up front, with interim payments based on milestones and then the balance due on final delivery.

“The key is to make sure there is little or no gap between when businesses pay for labour and stock inventory and when these costs actually get paid.”

6. Don’t ignore sales and marketing 

Sales and marketing is an integral part of building a company’s customer base and reputation, Smith says, so don’t neglect it. “From the start you’ll need to find a good way to source and convert leads into sales, as well as deliver on promises to customers to achieve repeat sales,” she adds.

7. Measure your key metrics

The only way to find out what’s working and what isn’t is to measure. Smith recommends that business owners implements processes in their business to measures key metrics.

“You can’t change what you don’t measure and you can’t tell if a programme or strategy is working if you’re not faithfully testing, measuring and tracking your results,” she says.

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