Are you the founder of a business and you are now looking at investing in bigger changes to your company? Maybe you are thinking, “I want to grow my client base”, or “I need to hire someone”, or “I’m going to open up a new product line”, or maybe you are hoping to add a new location. All change requires some form of strategic planning to help you create the steps you hope will get you to your best outcome.
When developing a new strategy for your business, often the first challenge is not knowing where to start. Change has a lot of moving parts, more than just “grow my business”.
Here is your first step.
Clearly Articulate Your Objective
Let’s take a step back here. To understand how your objective fits in your business you need to first understand your business values and mission. “REALLY”, you might be thinking, “that is so lame”; like some type of marketing buzzword used to manipulate prospects into buying. The words ‘values’ and ‘mission’ do get overused sometimes, in selling, but there are really important reasons why you want to know what these are for your business, especially as you grow and bring on more people.
a. Define what fits with your business
When you know what your values and mission are, you can test your ideas out against them. Let’s say one of your ideas for change is to focus on selling your product to a new target market, but your mission has your current business focuses on a different target market. There are a couple of issues that will have to be addressed if the new target market is your new objective.
- Do we have the right language and brand to attract a different audience?
- Do we have enough money to manage a new marketing channel?
Of course, it is always important that this target market wants/needs your product and is willing and able to buy from you, but that is a different discussion.
b. Align your hires with your culture
One of the biggest challenges business owners tend to have, when they are trying to grow a larger business, is finding great help. We all want people that are competent and will do a great job, hopefully for many years. One thing founders often forget to check is, do they fit the foundational culture of the business?
When you start a business, as the founder you bring your own values to the business. These are often your personal values, and a great way to start. As the business grows, your values will be what is used to define how people will be chosen to work with you. The challenge is, we, as business owners, may not know our own values, or we do not know how to ask great questions that ensure we get people with those values.
And then, as you grow even larger, the culture of your company and the people that you hire, will help redefine the values in your next strategies.
If you want great people that will stick with you, make sure they are aligned with how you run your business and your life. Ignoring your values when hiring means there are qualities of a great worker you are not looking for.
c. Ensure you stay on track
As you start your change implementation, there will be bumps and hurdles you will need to negotiate. Decisions about how to slightly change a goal, implement additional work, or rework an idea, means that you will need to make changes to the progress and the path you are using to get to your final objectives. The challenge is that sometimes we make changes based on how it fits with the steps that are already defined, instead of how it fits with the company. Using your values and mission to evaluate adjustments to your implementation means you are still working towards a company that you and your employees, as well as your clients, will want to work with.
Now that you understand how your values and mission fit in your business you can make the decisions required to define change objectives that are clear, known, and understandable.
Clear – It is not enough just to say, “we’re going to grow our income by 20%”. It is important that there be a realistic time defined and also where the increase in income is going to come from in your business. Is it coming from a new market, a new product, a new marketing campaign, etc.? You will also need to determine what the income is now. You need this to be able to measure the change, not just at the finish, but over time, as you implement. Is it a 20% gross sales, after cost of goods, or maybe after taxes? Knowing which number to look at means that every month, when you look at your P&L (profit and loss) statement, or your inventory, or your costs, etc. you can make an evaluation of how well your strategy is working.
Known – You are not the only person in your business that should know the details of your strategy. You want the people in your company to be on board and excited about the future. What you don’t want is people to be side-blinded by the unexpected work load change, because you have made a decision in a vacuum. Your change, and your future implementation, will go much smoother if your team is working with you, in a direction everyone is on board with.
Understandable – Reading a P&L statement is not something everyone can do, but it will be important that there is a way to understand if the change is working. Your metrics must be understood, not just by your bookkeeper, but by you and your management team. Knowing the numbers is one thing, but understanding what an increase or decrease means for your business will be important. Do you need to make changes to your strategy? Do you need to slow down your change so you can keep up with the increase in sales? Do you need to purchase more inventory than expected?
Defining a starting point for your strategy that is clear to understand, known by the people working in, or with, your business, and having an understanding of how your will evaluate your change, will ensure that the business you grow is the business you want to continue to work in.