By now, your New Year's resolutions have worn off. The everyday pressures of running a business have taken you back to business as usual.
And that means all those plans for growing your business have fallen by the wayside, too. Instead of having a plan, all you have is hope.
And we all know what simply hoping gets us.
Here's a better approach from Kevin Allen, the founder of re:kap, a business transformation company, and the author of The Hidden Agenda (a book that made my list of "Six Books for the Well-Rounded Entrepreneur.")
The key? Don't just wish. Don't just hope. Take steps to ensure your business is truly ready to grow.
Rate yourself on each of the following, using a scale of 1 (never) to 10 (always):
1. "We have a carefully defined growth strategy."
Effective growth strategies have individual initiatives, managed in parallel in each of four growth pathways: existing customers, new business, new competencies, and new ways to market. Have you got strategies in place for all of these?
2. "We understand the needs and emotional motivations of our customers."
Winning new customers and keeping existing ones means carefully understanding what the emotional needs of your customers are...even more so than the functional ones. Are you clear on what keeps them up at night?
3. "We are organized effectively to grow."
Dedicated functions, with clear interdependent roles for your "inside folks" and your "outside folks," is essential to systemic growth. Is your team fully in place and clear on their mission?
4. "We have a regular forum for managing and monitoring growth activities."
Growth is the No. 1 initiative in any company, headed by the chief executive. Regular forums, gathering key participants of your growth team, will ensure it stays at the top of the agenda. Part-time programs never succeed.
5. "We have a compelling and universally understood Business Story."
Telling your story effectively is a growth cornerstone. This "elevator pitch" is a succinct and memorable recitation of what makes you special, and it resonates with the heart and the mind of your buyer. Can you pitch your story in a sentence or two?
6. "We have a unique and common value system."
Birds of a feather flock together. Prospects buy companies with common cultures.
Clarity on your credo or belief system and the ability to express it effectively will ensure your prospects know they've come to the right place.
7. "We have a collective ambition for our company."
Growth is achieved by a commonly held, emotionally charged ambition. What you're creating that didn't exist before is what people sign up for and are willing do the impossible to achieve.
Can you, and more importantly your people, consistently describe what this is?
8. "We have a tight list of carefully chosen targets."
Only a select group of companies will ever be your clients. Having a careful screening process, both by the functional or objective criteria as well as the softer subjective criteria, ensures your prospects are "closable" before you ever meet them.
Do you have a gold, silver, and bronze list?
9. "We methodically construct and manage our pipeline."
Filling and managing your pipeline is your growth lifeblood. You can spend all your time closing, only to find when you surface from this that there's no ready prospect in the wings, causing you crucial gaps in pursuit and closure. A sequenced pipeline-management process ensures you never get caught short.
10. "We have a well-oiled pitch team and experienced strategy process."
At the end of the day, clients buy people. The experience they have in their meeting with you is vital to winning consistently.
The process shows up in the room. If you have a balanced, interdependent team, a regular method for thinking through how to structure presentations, and know what to present based on the prospect's needs and profile, you'll close much of the time.
Now grade yourself:
- If you scored 10-49: Urgent work needed
- If you scored 50-79: You have good practices in place but there's room to up your game
- If you scored 80-100: You're on your way to a winning year
Fortunately, there's never a bad time to make sure you're ready to grow. Assemble your team and work though these 10 items.
You'll definitely be glad you did.