By Terence J. Shepherd, CM&AA, CPA, MST
As the economy continues to inch forward at a pace slower than most of us would like, take advantage of the improving conditions and accelerate your business’s growth at a more rapid rate by following a few proven action steps.
Step one: Create a vision
Step one is to create a vision for the company of where you want it to be in the next five to 10 years. Set specific goals for revenue and net income, define sales territory, identify potential new markets, etc. Make sure it is realistic, but by no means self-limiting; it should be something you stretch toward.
Step two: Develop a plan
Step two is to develop a written plan. Break the vision into annual goals and detail the strategies and specific action steps that are necessary to reach the goals. This should not be an exercise in writing; most of it can be done in bullet point format and no more than 3 to 5 pages in length. And yes, it needs to be in writing. Time and time again studies have proven that people and businesses that have a written plan usually have far superior results than those who don’t.
Step three: Revalidate your message
Step three is to revalidate your message. Look in the mirror and tell yourself why someone should buy from you and not the business across the street. Be honest - does it move you? Is it a compelling off ering and story that clearly distinguishes you from your competitors?
Mike Shultz and John Doer from Rain Today offer a unique three-legged stool concept. The first leg: Resonate! What are you doing to create demand for your product? The second leg: Differentiate! Why should they choose you verses the person down the road? The third leg: Substantiate! Why should they believe you?
Step four: Attack your growth goals
Step four is to attack your sales growth goals armed with a three way perspective. Instead of looking at sales as a single line item, break it down into its three components. First, start with the number of customers. How many do you have now, how many do you lose each year and how many do you need to get to reach your goals? Develop a customer service plan that specifically reduces defections and attracts the new. Next, determine how many times your average customer does business with you. Set a target and determine what you need to do to increase it. Lastly, calculate the average transaction of each sale. Again, set a target and explore what specific offers, cross-selling and bundling you can off er to reach your target?
The four action steps are nothing magical and there are no silver bullets. The secret to success is in their execution. Put in the time, and greater growth and profitability will follow.
Terence J Shepherd, CM&AA, CPA, MST, is Lead Partner of ROCG~Shepherd & Goldstein Consulting Group, international consultants to small and medium sized family-owned enterprises, and Managing Partner of Shepherd & Goldstein Business Consultants and Certified Public Accountants. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in Cape & Plymouth Business June 2012
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