It’s no secret that business growth doesn’t happen overnight. Most people understand and know that it takes a certain amount of time to grow a business to a sustainable, success place. Even in knowing this, as a business owner its still a hard reality to accept.
I’ll be the first to say that I’m probably one of the most impatient people on planet earth. I seriously use to think that I was born without the patience attribute because I didn’t see it anywhere in my personality or way of thinking.
The one thing that taught me patience, whether I wanted to learn it or not, was motherhood. I’ll be sharing my story on that down the line, but today I’m going to be discussing the importance of patience in running a business.
All too often we get discouraged as business owners when we don’t see the growth we projected soon enough. Whether you’ve been working at it for 6 months or 6 years, every business has a journey and it’s important not to give up on yours, just because growth doesn’t seem to be happening.
On the same token, there are legitimate reasons that businesses don’t growth and its imperative that you be able to recognize the problem areas in your business that are contributing to the lack of growth.
Being aware of these issues and finding solutions to them is all a part of being a business owner. We have to be firing on all cylinders as business owners, and that means having a greater understanding of the strong and weak areas of our business, and how they contribute (or not) to our businesses growth.
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[Tweet “Seek to obtain a greater understanding of the strong and weak areas of your business.”]
We’ve all heard the age-old phrases that ‘good things come to those who wait’ or ‘that nothing good comes easy’. They’re much easier said than done so to say, because waiting is hard, especially when your livelihood is dependent on it.
The fact of the matter is that we only have so much control over how fast out business grows. In addition, that control looks and feels different for each business, and is dependent on so many factors. Here are some of the factors to consider when analyzing your business growth, and possible methods and strategies that you can implement when trying to grow yours:
1. Market Penetration: marketing existing products within the same market that you’re using.
In order to grow existing products and market you have to increase market share. Market share is the percent of unit and dollar sales a company holds within a certain market vs. all other competitors.
How to increase market share:
- Lower prices – works best then there is little differentiation in your market.
- Innovation – continuously improve your product and update it.
- Good customer service – providing exceptional customer service is a surefire way to differentiate yourself in the market. It’s all about providing an amazing customer experience.
- Implementing customer feedback – listen to what your customers have to say and give them what they’re asking for.
- Purchase customers – if one of your competitors is going up for sale, you can easily purchase their customer lists.
- Being flexible – have earlier or later hours than your competitors, offer bonuses with products or services.
2. Market Expansion: selling your products in a new market.
Also, know as market development. — Finding new uses for your products.
Why you may need to expand or develop your market:
- Too much competition – sometimes, no matter how unique your product or service is, there just isn’t room in the market for it. Too many people doing the same thing (no matter how unique) is never good for the market.
- There’s no room for growth – no growth = no success. If you find that your business is not growing or hit a stagnant point, expanding into a new market may be needed.
- Decline in sales or no profit growth – no money = no growth = no success. You need money to run a business and effectively sustain it. As an entrepreneur, the money you make from your business sustains both it and you. If you’re not making any money, you can’t take care of your, and therefore can’t take care of your business.
3. Product Expansion: expanding your product line and adding new features.
Also known as product development.
Why you may need to expand your product line:
- Your products are becoming obsolete. – If you’re seeing that there is no longer a need for your products, because newer products have come along that can do their job better, you may need to expand your product line. Out with the old, in with the new! Think VCRs vs. DVD players, or now DVD players vs. Streaming video.
- Change in technology has affected your product. – when other products in your market have more advanced technology in their products than yours, it’s not a good thing. By being behind the ball, you aren’t solidifying your place in the market. Consumers always want the newest, most updated products out there, you have to be able to provide this.
- You want to continue to sell in your market, but products don’t appear to be garnering interest. – you may need to survey if there is a legitimate need for your product or service in the market. If no one seems interested, it might be that its just not needed. Knowing if there is a need for your product or service should always be at the forefront of your mind when you’re going through the product creation process.
- New or more updated products have been introduced to the market by competitors. – staying competitive and relevant is key to any businesses success. You need to make that you’re paying attention to what your competitors are putting out, and ensure that your products are comparable at the least. Of course, you should strive for them to be better!
4. Diversification: selling new products to new markets
What to consider before you diversify:
- It can be very risky and costly. – you have to assess at to if your company can financially handle diversifying. By diversifying, you should be thinking critically about how helpful it will be and what results you expect from it.
- Careful planning is key. – as with any big business decision, planning must take place. Very seldom do rash decisions pan out well for anyone, but especially businesses.
- Extensive research of the market is vital. – you need to have as much research about the new market prior to deciding to sell new products. Knowing if and how your product would be used is key in deciding whether to create and sell it to a brand new market.
Acquisition: purchasing another company to expand your operations.
Why you may want to acquire another company:
- The products and market are already established, so there is less risk at hand. – this is a good move if you’re looking for slightly quicker results than the other methods.
- You have a specific goal in mind for why you are acquiring another company. – there must be a definite goal in mind when deciding whether to acquire because financial investment alone can make or break your business.
- You have the financial investment necessary to implement the acquisition. – in considering an acquisition, the money to actually do it must be available without any sacrifice to your current business. If you’re not able to fully set aside the amount of money it would take to acquire a new business, without it hurting yours, you may want to reconsider until you can.
- You want to build a stronger customer base and increase sales. – give the fact that the other company already had a customer and sales bases (whether strong or not), you are acquiring that when you acquire the entire company. The main concern going forward is how you go about keeping them and becoming even stronger post-acquisition.
It’s important to keep in mind that any strategy put in place to grow a business is going to take time. Even more so, they can have unexpected results, whether good or bad. As a business owner, you have to ready and able to accept the results of the implementation of these strategies.
How you approach and go about implementing these strategies affects how they may pan out as well. Thinking through them completely, not rushing or feeling pressured to do them, having a clear goal in mind, and plan B for if they fail are all things that must be done ahead of time.
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For my own business, I could see myself employing one or two of these strategies to try to increase growth, but I approach each one apprehensively. It’s a situation where I might be better off consulting with an advisor or talking with my mentor to give me additional insight.
I highly recommend any and everyone to do that prior to setting one of these strategies in place. There are a lot of things we can do to grow our businesses, but the main we have to do is be smart. If success is your end goal, then that being “smart” might just require you to be patient. Good things come to those who wait, but while waiting, the wheels should never stop turning!
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Have you implemented any of these methods to grow your business? – What are some of the strategies you would try out to grow your business?