Growth is the jet fuel of business success, but you can't expect it to be constant. There will be plateaus in any business trajectory. At about $5 million a year, things sometimes seem to stall -- often due to issues with the leadership team. That's because many startups begin life as a small group of plucky first-timers, with plenty of heart but perhaps not as much cool-headed business acumen.
During stalls in growth, experience and perspective can be crucial for determining how to increase financing. But many businesses are not successful with this key challenge: A National Small Business Association survey from December 2015 showed that 27 percent reported not securing the financing they needed.
Of course, many companies do get through these stalls effectively and take their businesses far beyond any plateaus. So, what makes the difference between those that falter and those that rise to new heights?
It's really a matter of staying the course, keeping your wits about you in tough times, and leveraging savvy business sense. Let's take a look at a few ways that you can maximize your chances of doing just that.
1. Connect with a focused partner.
Partnering with a consultant or private equity firm can give you access to resources and outside counsel on how to jump-start your growth. That's just the sort of perspective that can help get you through revenue plateaus strategically. The most successful firms maintain strong partnerships by maintaining a small pool of clients, so they can focus their attention effectively on each one.
For example, Blackford Capital has helped more than 40 organizations grow by focusing on just a few partnerships at a time. By keeping its roster of clients manageable, the company is able to provide the kind of attentive guidance that can make a massive difference to getting companies through a plateau period successfully.
Private equity firms may offer this sort of assistance in the form of operational, financial, or governance engineering. All of these services can help you steer things toward increasing revenue, cutting costs, and using financing wisely.
2. Invest in increasing visibility.
If revenue isn't coming in at the rate you need it to, consider whether there are enough people in your market who know and love your brand. Chances are, there aren't.
Getting the brand in front of more eyes is one of the best things you can do to get off a plateau. Of course, increasing traditional ad buys is one possibility, but you should also consider other important ways to promote your brand today.
To start, make sure your website is optimized for SEO. For businesses with physical locations, ensure that you are signed up with Google My Business and have a presence on Google Maps and other map applications. Don't ignore video advertising, whether through actual video ads or through instructional videos that add value for the consumer but also build trust and loyalty in your brand. Finally, you'll want to connect with thought leaders in your industry because they have influence that can shine favorably on your company.
3. Learn to properly evaluate financial risk.
Recent volatilities in the bond market highlight the need to take a dispassionate and long-term view of the financial landscape. That requires staying committed during the ups as well as the downs. It also means refraining from making critical decisions driven by emotions and looking at risks only in the short term.
Craig Birk, Personal Capital's Chief Investment Officer, underscores this point: "Truly reaping reliable benefits from the market means you can't let yourself get swept away by fear or excitement. Making decisions in these emotional states is how you end up hurting your future gains."
By staying in the game, increasing visibility, and partnering with those who have the experience and perspective necessary to see things through a plateau, you can take your company to new heights.