Starting a company is tough, but sometimes entrepreneurs find that growing their company is even more challenging. Here are 6 areas you should learn about to help you be more successful as you grow your company.
- Manage the big vision instead of the details – When you first get started, you are responsible for every little detail of the business. In order to grow you have to turn those details over to other people and trust they will handle them. This is more painful and difficult than many people realize. You have invested your heart, soul, and life into the business, you are often operating on a razor’s edge, and you don’t want anything to go wrong. But to grow and expand you have to let others handle the details. You can still confirm they are on the right path and do spot checks to ensure your big vision is still on track. But to grow, you can no longer do or know everything about the business.
- Build a revenue machine – There are many aspects to a business that you need to manage; from operations, technology, and hiring to product development and profitability. But the one thing that differentiates a business from a hobby is revenue. Is someone willing to pay for what you provide? In order to grow, you don’t just need one client, you need a system for continuously finding prospects and turning them into customers. A system that can scale and a system that you can turn over to other people in your company. We call this a revenue machine. You may always be involved with landing the big clients and overall revenue growth, but you need a revenue machine that continues to function even when you have to focus on one of your other 15 jobs within the company. In order to grow your business; build a consistent predictable revenue machine.
- Understand your financials – Are you profitable? Which products are generating the most margin? Which geographies? Which channels? What is your cash flow and run rate? What are your biggest expenses and how can you manage them? Can you afford to hire new team members or to invest in new technology and equipment? Clients and employees may be your focus, but your financials are how you measure your results and make key decisions about where you company needs you most. Without good financials, you will eventually grow your company into failure. If you want to successfully grow your business, make time to take a basic business financials course and hire someone you trust to not just “do the monthly books”, but to provide you with the financial insight that will ensure you grow successfully.
- Cash Flow is king – An often overlooked part of any business growth plan is cash flow. A simple way to look at Cash Flow is do you have enough money in your checking account to cover your payroll at the end of the month. Lots of companies have accounting profits and empty bank accounts. Without cash flow, you can’t hire more people, open new geographies, invest in new technologies, or even pay for travel to pitch new partners and clients. Many companies survive years without making a profit, but they all fail the day they run out of cash. So, to grow a company successfully you have to be vigilant about improving your cash flow. Whether that is customer growth, accounts receivables, loans from banks, or new investors; as the leader you have to ensure the company exists long enough to take advantage of the next big opportunity that is coming around the corner.
- Some clients are more important than others – It is a common refrain “every client counts,” and that is extremely true for the first few clients and maybe even the 10th or 15th But eventually, if you want to grow the company, you have to choose where you will focus your efforts. It may be because of size or for strategic reasons, but some clients will need to be at the top of your contact list while others drop down towards the bottom. If you can’t prioritize your clients and your time, you will not be able to grow your business.
- Always be looking for that next big deal – If you want to grow, you always have to be on the lookout for that next big deal. It could be that new giant client that doubles your size overnight, a new and lucrative distribution channel, a new product, or a new partnership. Whatever it is, you have to be diligent and focused about looking for and preparing yourself and the company for that next big deal. You can’t grow if you don’t get it, and you can’t grow if you are not prepared to handle it when it finally happens. If you want to grow, start looking and preparing for that next big deal right now.
Hopefully this list is helpful and you are on a path for profitable growth. What else would you add to the list?