Posts Tagged ‘business growth’
Don’t you wish there was a BIG MANUAL called “Everything you ever need to know about running your freelance or small business”? It would be huge, but it would cover all the sections – from the first chapters on starting your business, through to growing the business, finding customers, through to eventual selling it off (taking the cash and running)? Of course there isn’t such a book – but there are numerous books which when combined, can cover much of what you need to know.
One such book is the 30 day MBA. Now I am not personally sold on the idea of an MBA courses as a concept. I am not sure you can attend a university, do an MBA course and come out ready to run any sort of business. BUT, MBAs are a really good foundation for business knowledge. The 30 Day MBA by Guy Cornwall takes what is covered in these university courses, and boils it down into bite sized chunks which anybody can understand.
It covers most of the topics you need to know to run any form of business. Whether you are a contractor, a freelancer or (like me) run a small business, this book will cover a lot of the subjects you need to know. Finance (how balance sheets work, what is a P&L report, how to use an aged debt report), sales, marketing (advertising, customer retention, etc), growth, legals – everything is given a good foundation.
Even for seasoned freelancers and small business owners/managers, this book is well worth a read as it refreshes ideas and knowledge which can help you grow your business. In fact, sometimes it makes sense to read chapters with your real business data to hand – it will help pull everything together.
If you want to get a handle on your business or want to get some ideas for driving it forward, this book is recommended.
Yesterday I talked about the differences about working ON your business compared to IN your business. Today I thought it is worth listing the things I am supposed to think about when working ON my company. I say ‘supposed’ because this is a list from a number of sources including other small business blogs, company growth programs, mentoring groups and the like. I confess I don’t work on all of these, and when I am working ON my company, I only try to consider one in any ‘session’.
At the end of the day, everybody will have different plans, aspirations and goals for there business. There is no right or wrong about the way you plan the future of your business, as long as you do plan.
So here is the list of things worth considering in your business plan when you work ON your business:
- Goals – what do you want from your business. Are you happy doing what you do now, do you actually want more business? Where do you want to be in a year, 5 years, 10 years, 20? What happens when you leave your company – does it just stop, fold, do you sell it or does it continue?
- Marketing – Where will you next customer come from? Can you define a customer, where they come from in the country, their size, etc? Do you need to look at online advertising, offline, mailshots, exhibitions, a salesperson, telemarketing, outsourcing? Do you need a sales marketing plan – if so how many sales, what will the value be, what is the cost of sales or profit?
- Sales Message – Does your sales message work to win you business? Is it strong enough? Can it be stronger? What about Unique Selling Point – what’s yours look like?
- Products and Services – Are your products up to date, do they need to be refined, redone? The same with services? What about new products and services? In what markets do you need to stay, expand or pull out of?
- Money – How is cash flow – do you need to increase your prices? How much cash will you need in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? How will you reach this level?
- Collateral – Is your sales material sufficient to make the sales? New printed material – if so, in what form? What about your web site? Do you need to look at demo kit, setups or play systems? What about freebies – pens, mats, disks with software?
- Community – does your company have a community presence? Does it give to charity? Should it? Can this help raise your profile?
- Expansion – Are you happy with your company size? Do you want it to grow in size – if so by how much and when? New staff, open an office or expand current office? What about new markets, products, countries? Do you need to shrink any of these to grow?
- Customers – How many new customers do you need to meet your plans? What is your ideal customer? Do you have any ‘dead weight’ customers? How can you retain customers? Special offers, referrals, do these work for you?
- Competition – Have you reviewed your competition? Are there any stalking horses about to take customers and business? Do they offer products or services you should be offering? Have they got customers that you could win?
- Tools – Do you and your staff have the tools required for growth? Review all tools – software products, hardware including laptops, demo kit, web hosting, manufacturing and anything else. Are there better tools than those you use now?
- Skills – do you have up to date skills? Are there skills you need or want to learn that would project the company forward? Are your current skills set becoming out of date? Are there skills that will earn better rates?
- Backup – What is the backup plan for your company? Do you keep good data backups? What about general business backups – what happens if your car no longer works, you become ill, your computers fail, cash runs out, you customers go under, a contract is cancelled, a sub contractor lets you down? Plan to fail, don’t fail to plan.
- Documentation – Is your documentation up to spec? Can it be improved or be made more visible? What about putting it on the web?
- Health and Insurance – Do you have sufficient insurance in place? What happens if you are sued, become sick, get knocked down, loose one of your senses? Are you fit enough to run and/or grow your business
- Family – How does your family fit with the business? Do you want more free time to spend with them, or more money to spend on them? If so, what needs to change to allow this to happen?
I was listening to a small business podcast last week, and the two chaps were talking about the differences about working IN your business compared to working ON your business. Working IN is basically doing your day job, earning the money, invoicing clients, working on products and such. Working ON the business is spending time working out how to grow your business (or at least keep it ticking over). Clearly both are important – without actions ON your business, tomorrows work may dry up and you may find yourself watching more TV and playing computer games in the future as there is no work to do once the current work dries up.
What this podcast made me realise is, that whilst I have all the good intentions to work ON my business, I have become too plugged in. With my laptop, my mobile phone, and now my tablet, I am always plugged in. I even have applications that download content so that when there is no connection, I have things to read and study. Using the technology, I can check emails, check my twitter feed, read the blogs I subscribe to, keep up with tech (and other news), and read those articles I have marked to Read Later.
Whilst this is all good stuff, and is clearly important to keep up to speed with what is happening in your local business circles, this constant plugged in time means that there is little to no ‘quiet time’ – time when I can sit in peace, with no online communication or data flow, where I can just sit and think about my business, its path, and actually work ON my business. So today I am opening up my diary, and every Wednesday for 1 hour, I am going to unplug myself from the tech, and work ON my business
Whether we are contractors, freelancers or small business owners, it’s important to work ON our business. So when are you going to work ON yours?