Here are the factors that should be included in a business growth plan. Pulling together the information below will give insight into your business today and serve as a roadmap for the future.
You probably put together a competitor analysis for your business plan before launching to survey the products and services you’re up against. It’s time to revisit this analysis and look at your industry landscape. There are few businesses without competitors and you need to nail down yours. Here are questions you should answer after investigating businesses both big and small:
- Who sells products or services the same or similar to yours?
- Have your competitors expanded with new products or services in the last 6 months?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition?
- What marketing and sales strategies are used by each competitor to achieve their objectives?
- How does their website look and function?
- What’s the overall market outlook in your industry?
Discover expansion opportunities
When you review your competitor analysis, look out for expansion opportunities. Here are some ways a small business can expand:
- Create new products or add additional services
- Target new customers or clients
- Open a new location
- Go global
Evaluate your team / invest in talents
Realistically look at your team. Do you have trained employees in place to support a growing company? If you operate as a one-man-show, do you have the skills and bandwidth to carry out your growth plans? This section of your growth plan will also reveal if you need to hire in the future and what talents those new employees need to bring to the table. It can be a good strategy to share your growth plan with key team members. When employees see the company’s future and room for advancement, they’re more likely to help you reach your growth goals.
Explore how to fund expansion
Expansion can be expensive.From research and development to increased marketing efforts, the old adage “it takes money to make money” rings true. If you have strong credit scores and the cash flow to support a loan payment, explore how funding can help you level up. The goal here is to get a loan with low rates, long terms, and low monthly payments. Popular uses of low-cost funds include buying inventory and equipment, purchasing commercial real estate, hiring new employees, and launching new marketing initiatives. Learn more here: Determining Use of Proceeds | SmartBiz University.
SmartBiz has had the pleasure of interviewing a number of customers who are fueling growth with the help of an SBA loan or bank term loan through a SmartBiz marketplace bank. Read how a variety of businesses across the U.S. are expanding here: Business Stories.
Outline marketing efforts
Here’s where you reveal the secret sauce-what marketing strategies are you going to use to get the word out about your products or services? There are a ton of ways you can promote your business to increase sales and brand awareness. And they don’t have to break the bank. Here are a few marketing tactics that can help a small business expand:
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that among all households in America, 78% had a desktop or laptop, 75% had a handheld computer such as a smartphone or other handheld wireless computer, and 77% had a broadband Internet subscription. If you don’t have a top-notch website, you’re really missing out. Do an audit and refresh your site so it’s as effective as possible.
There are more paid social media opportunities than ever before. Explore the channels that reach the audience you want and post targeted content with relevant hashtags. Learn how a SmartBiz customer is successfully using Instagram to drive 80% of their sales completely organically, without any paid advertising here: Business Story: Infinity Strap. If you need help in this area, consider hiring a social media specialist with small business experience: Small Business Marketing Tip: How to Hire a Social Media Strategist.
Email marketing is a strong tool to help you connect with your target audience. Our blog post, Email Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners, outlines steps to help you launch effective campaigns. You’ll learn how to choose the right platform, how to brand your email and create a killer subject line, and more.
For in-depth articles on all things marketing, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog and choose the topic Business Marketing.
Define your USP
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) identifies what sets your business apart from your competitors. It’s one sentence summarizing your company and serves as the foundation for your marketing efforts. The Marketing Donut blog interviewed top marketing consultant Amanda Walker who explains why it’s so important to get it right: Developing your USP.
Identify target audience
It’s very important to determine the ideal customer that wants-or needs-your product or service. If your business is brand new, check out the competitive analysis you’ve put together for insights. If you’ve been around a while, engage with your current customers to collect data on their demographics and shopping habit.
Identify key performance indicators that are measurable
Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you focus on the most important performance measures. KPIs show how various parts of your business are performing. According to the QuickBooks blog, here are the 7 most important KPIs to track:
- Cash flow forecast
- Gross profit margin as a percentage of sales
- Funnel drop-off rate
- Revenue growth rate
- Inventory turnover
- Accounts payable turnover
- Relative market share
For more detailed information, read the full article:
The 7 Most Important KPIs to Track as a Small Business.
You don’t have to go through this process alone. Use SBA growth-oriented resources to help you along the way. Small Business Development Centers offer free assistance to new and established business owners. Topics you can get assistance with including business planning, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, technology development, international trade and much more. Find your local center here. Before you start, find the growth plans of successful businesses to help give you direction.
Finally, your business growth plan is a living document meant to be continually edited and updated. Don’t spend time and energy creating your plan then forget about it. A business growth plan is a valuable tool.