Taking Your Business to the Next Level

Taking Your Business to the Next Level
 By: Cynthia Bullphoto

Taking your business to the next higher level can be a tricky process for even the most astute business pundit and is best undertaken with a sign that reads, Proceed with Caution! With smart guidelines, however, your business can reach its next growth plateau safely.

An article by Maureen Farrell and Mary Crane (http://www.forbes.com/) offers tips for growing your business and features the story of businessman, David Guernsey. Over 20 years ago, David Guernsey (Guernsey Office Products) took his retail office furniture business with $5 million annual revenues to over $25 million within five years. Along the way, he borrowed $8 million to expand his business and in 2008 boasted a $50 million top line.

Guernsey stated, "What I borrowed far exceeded my net worth. It was scary, but we needed a new level of sophistication to serve larger customers in order to grow.” Of the $50 million he said, "It’s tough to make all the investment on the front end, but when you need to grow, [sometimes] you can’t do it piecemeal.”

Business growth certainly sounds desirable, but it is rarely a simple process. Careful planning and attention to all aspects of your business must be maintained to achieve the desired goals. And you can always expect the unexpected to happen, whether it’s with your products/services, your personnel, or with accounting and related economic matters. Vigilance at every point is essential to maneuvering the steps to your target growth. Consider these…

11 Tips To Help You Safely Navigate Your Company's Growth

1. Plan a financial course that accurately reflects your cost projections. Initial growth is nice, but sustained growth is better and requires a solid approach with definitive goals.

2. Focus your energies on perfecting your product/service and building a solid customer base. Without customers, there is no business. The better the product/service and the means to promote it to existing and potential consumers, the better your customer pool and potential return on your investment.

3. Tell your story to attract investors. While you may not need investors initially, telling your story in a personable manner and creating associations with potential investors expands your range of future business options.

4. Establish an advisory board and build JV (joint venture) partnerships for their business expertise and for their contacts. Join similar, like-minded business groups and share ideas.

5. Become friends with bankers and other financial lenders in the event lean times negatively affect your business credit. An existing relationship sets the stage for collateral, competence and character, three areas of interests for financiers.

6. Set up critical systems like hiring and creating an employee handbook for job descriptions and daily responsibilities (especially needed in larger companies), an affordable employee benefits package, standardized operating procedures (SOP) stating company purpose and policies, and a back office with detailed accounting features that include spreadsheets and other tools for measuring and recording growth.

7. Hire professional management (particularly necessary when growth is well underway) and let them do their jobs. Their role is to oversee specific job duties while you concentrate on continuing to grow the business. As company leader, you ARE the business and your time is valuable for those responsibilities that only you can perform.

8. Expect and welcome change, whether adding or dropping new products/services, in record keeping, or in other areas. Growth denotes inevitable change that you must negotiate with each new issue.

9. Be prepared to risk serious capital when making gigantic growth, with a clear vision of how you will use it. Investment backers are averse to putting money into poorly planned proposals, but they will consider a well-organized and solvent one.

10. Consider expanding globally. Growth in today’s marketplace means competing for dollars in a global economy, and global exposure in a virtual arena can benefit most company’s products and services.

11. Periodically, reevaluate your entire business (products/services, management team, advisors, operations) to stay competitive.

Taking your business to the next level also entails improving business results using the latest data information, technology, and software. Upgrades will be necessary, either gradually or all at once, to keep up with growing business demands and to keep your name before prospective clients, so research and select the best systems for your company.

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CYNTHIA BULL (http://www.cynrje.com/) is an internationally published writer and editor who helps international authors, marketers and speakers add greater value to their products through her top-quality writing, editing and transcription services. She is the author of How To Be A Medical Transcriptionist and Winning At Work While Balancing Your Life, a contributing author of Walking with the Wise Entrepreneur (Mentors Publishing House), cited in Make BIG Profits on eBay (Entrepreneur Press), and Managing Editor of Mentors Magazine Think & Grow Rich Edition. Cynthia has created over 200 book products in the past two years for her clients and, as mentor, helps clients reach their goals through her products, experience and genuine caring. Cynthia writes this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses (http://www.artisanbusinesses.org/), an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the artisan industry.