Ten Tips to Grow Your Business

A preoccupation with turnover can hold back sustainable, profitable growth. Key to turning a small business into a profitable and growing medium-sized venture is letting your leadership style evolve. In most businesses, the business owner is a valuable lynch-pin. But they can also be causing a bottleneck that is stopping it from growing profitably.

So, here’s 10 tips to help you grow your business;

1) Delegate, delegate, delegate

Delegation is often a key barrier to growth. Some business owners often don’t have the confidence that their supporting teams will step up to the challenge.
Just when business owners need to be delegating to their key staff members and making them accountable, they are holding back – that’s why we often see that the busiest desk is the business owner’s.

Delegation is not easy but done well it creates real accountability and good people will always step up to that mark.

2) People of the future

Finding and retaining the right people in an organisation is crucial to its future growth and the right people are generally harder to find than the right customers or suppliers. As a company grows, it needs to fill key roles with people who have some ‘headroom’ on the current situation – the experience and skills to help create the future. Capacity isn’t just about volume.

You should aim to know the next two people you want to hire. Taking on a new employee is often a ‘distress purchase’ rather than the well thought through investment the situation deserves.

3) Provide training

Another aspect of nurturing talent in a business is providing on-going training and development. Think about what you can do from within before committing to external help. Try to develop a people management approach that is built around training and development as much as direction and control. This is important for maintaining loyalty and motivation in talented individuals who are often critical to the future success of any business.

4) Planning for mistakes

Sometimes, you need to take risks when it comes to developing your people. It’s important to let employees make mistakes, and learn from them. However, you need to identify the worst-case scenario for potential damage this could do to the business and work to prevent that situation arising.

Putting processes in place removes some of the risk, but by making mistakes, individuals learn to take responsibility for preventing errors in the future and grow in confidence.

This is one of the hardest skills for a business owner to get right. But if you don’t give your employees the authority they need to do their job well, they end up demotivated.

5) Don’t be sentimental

It is important to view your talent pool with a critical eye. Try not to be sentimental about your staff. Hanging onto people just because they have been with you a long time does not mean you should promote them – you need the right individuals in important roles.

If you identify someone who isn’t in the right job, you don’t necessarily have to let them go. You can often reassign people to more appropriate positions where they will thrive, making them happier in the process.

People who are under performing normally know it and are rather hoping that you don’t! Asking the question “What is the last thing he or she did really well for us?” can open a route to a re-assignment that works for all concerned.

6) Ask the right questions

As businesses evolve away from and beyond the founder’s earlier experience they will naturally tend to be less able to know the answers. The trick is to develop the skill of asking the right questions.

7) Measure your performance and your progress

When planning for growth, you need to make a clear distinction between short-term performance and longer term, strategic progress. Looking at typical performance measures like profit and loss accounts and sales or production statistics offers short-term insights but doesn’t tell you whether you are creating the future you want for the business.

8) Take time

If you ask your staff who they think is looking after the future they will tell you that’s your job and they rather hope you are good at it. You need to leave time to plan and create that future, away from the day-to-day running of the organisation. This is first of all about ‘permission’ and then about technique. We tend to feel a bit guilty if we are not obviously busy ‘doing’, planning is never urgent – until it’s too late and few people are trained or experienced in planning. So first give yourself permission then learn the techniques or get some help.

9) Take risks

Being honest about your attitude to risk is key to successful decision making. In the early stages of a business the founder has little to lose and focuses on the gains that can be made. But as businesses scale up and mature there is more to lose and owners become more risk averse.
Sometimes we find plans for profitable growth that make sense until we meet the owners and realise that the appetite for the risk in those plans is just not there.

That said, there is always going to be risk in growth and change and much can be done to manage risks once they are identified.

10) Have clear systems & processes

To scale up any business you need the right systems and processes to ensure activities are efficient, compliant and continue to deliver for your customers. If you are growing and still have the same systems and processes you were using 3 years ago then chances are you have already outgrown them.

We call it the search for ‘useful order’. It’s a delicate balance between the more chaotic condition on one side and the energy sapping ‘non-useful’ order condition on the other. Getting into and staying in the useful order condition is a hallmark of those businesses that sustain profitable growth.

Want to know more ?

Please contact Mac Robertson at Haines Watts on 01708 475 220 or by email at mrobertson@hwca.com

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