From Business Plan to Business Growth Plan

You've written and followed your business plan, so your next step is figuring out what your growth plan is going to be – how to take initial success and transform that into a business plan that leads you to the next level.

Like most entrepreneurs, you probably had a business plan to start.
Maybe you used it to help raise money. But now you operate in the real
world, and everything seems a little different. No matter how much
research you did in advance, and how neatly you set up your company,
the everyday business playing field tends to be a disorderly place
where things rarely go according to design.

What you may need now is a plan of a different sort — a business growth
plan that acts more like an internal compass to guide you toward
success. It starts with a specific mindset. The day-to-day actions of
everyone involved in your business should have a growth-oriented edge.
Everyone should buy into your vision that growth can and will happen as
you work collectively to capture opportunities.

Gather
some intelligence about what’s happening internally. Then write down
your plan. You don’t need something extensive — even a list of bullet
points will help.

8 Steps to Your New Business Growth Plan

Here are eight steps to building an effective small business growth plan:

  1. Check your promise fulfillment :
    Many small businesses start with a flourish of activity, only to see it
    quickly evaporate. Take a hard look at whether you are delivering what
    your business has promised to its customers. Great products and
    services must follow a strong upfront sales effort. Problems or
    shortfalls must be fixed quickly.
  2. Refresh you marketplace research :
    A thorough understanding of your market is vital to a growth plan. You
    probably did this in the startup stage. But perceptions may have
    changed. Revisit the original premise. Make adjustments as needed.
  3. Rekindle a strong sense of purpose :
    Maintaining a growth mindset is easier if everyone embraces the
    mission. Share your vision with others. Set down specific goals. Don’t
    just dream — delegate specific actions to reach those goals.
  4. Fine-tune your marketing message :
    The sales message you originally crafted might need adjusting. Find out
    what objections customers are raising to your sales effort. Why have
    they purchased or declined your product or service?
  5. Close the sale:
    Early-stage businesses often see their mission as gaining recognition.
    That’s helpful and necessary, but any business must also close sales. Tweak your sales process to place greater emphasis on closing.
  6. Collect your cash:
    Just as interest needs to be converted to sales, so must sales be
    converted to cash. Act to collect your receivables as quickly as
    possible. That means quick and accurate billing, and follow-ups to slow
    payers.
  7. Take stock of your resources:
    To plan for growth you need to know what tools you have at your
    disposal and which ones are missing. Do you have the right people and
    suppliers with the right skills? Consider what each vendor and employee
    brings to the effort. If you need more funding, plug that into your
    plan as well.
  8. Look in the mirror:
    Are you part of the problem? Maybe your plan should include efforts on
    your part to be a better motivator and manager. Establish a plan to
    reward others for their long hours and outstanding work.

Check Out These Business Planning Resources

Need help devising your growth plan? Strategic Planning for Small Business Made Easy
is the latest in the “Made Easy” book series from Entrepreneur Press.
Three authors lay out four major growth strategies that can help you
build your own. Also, The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth
is a new book by small business growth expert Steven S. Little offering
real-world principles for sustaining growth in a small business.

Our Bottom Line:

A small business growth plan won’t cure all that ails your business.
But it will help you to get a better fix on why the growth you expected
early on hasn’t materialized, and what specific steps you need to take
to get where you want to go.

© 2005 BizBest Media Corp.

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