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How, as an entrepreneur, do you take your business to the next level? This is a great question to explore as moving things to a new level must be done in the correct manner.
Doing things the wrong way could put undue pressure on your existing business. It may bring with it complications you would never have imagined. For some, it can spell disaster for their business.
How Do I Bring My Business to the Next Level? It Takes Planning
Before you look at trying to elevate your business to the next level, I want you to think about certain aspects.
First, what does it mean to you, the entrepreneur, when you talk about the ‘next level’? As a vision, what does it translate to in your mind?
These thoughts are designed to help you gain some insight into how you need to plan for the future. You must be aware of where you wish to go to then put into place some steps that help you get there.
Blindly stating you want to move your business on may be admirable, but it’s also dangerous to do so without that plan. Do you actually mean you want to build sales? Do you want to expand into a new market? Do you want to change the structure of your business?
Knowing what you mean when having these kinds of discussions makes it easier for not only you, but also a business coach who may be helping you with growing your business.
So, how do you plan? Well, it can be as simple, or as tough, as you want it to be.
The Basics of Planning for the Next Level
First, you need to determine what you mean by ‘next level’ as that is something unique to your business. Only after working out what this means can you then go ahead and create your plan. As an entrepreneur, you will already be familiar with this concept of planning.
This plan must have a beginning as well as an end. You must state the point you are at right now and the point you want to reach. That allows you to then plan your route from A to B. After all, how can you do that when you don’t have those two points to focus on?
Aside from these points, you must break up your business into sections. Or, alternatively, if you only plan on taking one aspect of your business up to a new level, then that sector must be broken up.
Picture this as creating handy bite-sized chunks for you to work on. Planning needs to exist on different scales from the macro down to the micro level. This allows you to know exactly what is going to happen and when it will happen.
You need this type of planning to feel confident enough to move your business on to this next stage.
Of course, exactly what is contained in your plan will be unique to your own company. Also, if you feel unsure as to what should be in a plan for this type of growth, then never try to do it by guessing. That will spell disaster for most people. Instead, get professional advice from a business coach with the experience of taking businesses and helping them grow.
But planning is only one part, and only one of several tasks to carry out. With any business, it will involve some sort of sales, marketing, and customer service. Looking at each area and what you need to do to make those improvements is, therefore, key.
How Do You Take Sales to the Next Level?
The problem with sales is that everyone wants to achieve more as they are a core part of the development of any company. But what if you find yourself effectively stuck at a certain level and wish to break through that ceiling?
In that instance, you need to look at where your sales come from at this point. Is there any noticeable pattern? Are you actually getting the maximum number of sales from your existing channels?
In order to make progress, you must understand what you are doing at this moment in time.
Take some time to look at your current sales and determine if those numbers can be improved upon. How are you approaching your current customers or clients? How do your competitors get their customers? Are they doing something different to you?
Before you contemplate seeking out new sales channels, you must believe you have done everything possible with those that already exist.
So, what sort of channels am I talking about?
Well, if you don’t have an online store, and one could certainly work for you, then get one. Alternatively, perhaps direct sales in new areas would work? Do you have an email campaign you can implement?
But if we presume you are doing everything in your power with current sales, what happens next?
This is where your planning comes into play. It’s one of those tasks that will have a huge impact on how things evolve.
Of course, the exact approach or method depends on your business and what you do, but here are some ideas that could be implemented within your company to help with growth.
In order to be in this position of looking at growing your business, it’s clear something is correct about the product or service you sell. It’s merely the methodology of getting sales, and minute changes, that will help you take things to a whole new level.
Oh, and then there’s the marketing, but we will get to that now.
So, How Do I Take Marketing to the Next Level?
I briefly mentioned marketing in the previous section, but it’s best to expand on this point as marketing is capable of driving so much of your business. Also, a strong marketing approach can prove to be a helpful tool in elevating your business to a whole new level.
Where do I begin?
I’d begin by looking at the area that is now extremely prominent with any marketing plan, and that’s social media.
Without some form of presence on social media, any business will struggle. It has now become second nature for the overwhelming majority of the population to use social media to inform their decisions about, well, pretty much everything.
But are you using social media in the correct way?
There’s no doubt it’s a wonderful tool to connect with customers, both old and potentially new, but only when you use its power in a strategic manner.
The problem with social media is its vast size. Simply putting yourself on there and doing next to nothing is pointless. People will trudge on by and not even give you a second glance.
If you want to take the marketing aspect of your business to the next level, then correctly engaging with social media is where it’s at. Do you have the resources in place to tackle the vast world that is social media?
But that’s not all. Instead, I would suggest looking at several other key areas that would tend to include the following.
Once again, marketing is capable of transforming your business. Making mistakes in this area can be costly both in time and money. If you have any uncertainty regarding your current marketing plans and how they will translate into the future, then don’t sit on those thoughts. Get the correct advice or you could seriously hamper your ability to push your business forward.
How Do I Take Customer Service to the Next Level?
A company with poor customer service could easily run into difficulties that will then have a negative impact on the rest of the business. Any experienced entrepreneur should understand that without good customer service, things will quickly head south.
The problem with taking your business to a whole new level is you cannot afford to have the customer service aspect left trailing behind. If that happens, it could easily pull down all the hard work you have been putting in elsewhere.
So, what do you do with customer service?
First, you must get a picture of how your customer service is viewed at this current time. What manner of feedback are you receiving about the customer service aspect? Are current customers and clients delighted with their interaction with you? Have you encountered anything negative which highlights areas to be worked on?
The only way you can elevate customer service is by understanding what is working, or what is not working for you.
But what does this then mean for moving forward?
Clearly, if you have areas giving some cause for concern, then they must be addressed. That must be the starting point instead of seeking to find new methods or approaches. If your current approach to customer service is not working as smoothly as it should be, then how can you expect to work on any type of expansion?
So, this is what I would recommend.
Let’s presume your current customer service is up to par. You also find yourself in the position of expanding your business and adding growth to your company.
At this point, you cannot keep your customer service at the same level. If your business grows, it makes sense the interaction between your company and customers will also increase. Do you have the resources to deal with this?
This means you may be required to employ additional staff. You should also look at the service aspect and upscale accordingly.
Think along these lines.
There may well be other areas of your customer service that need to be examined to elevate things to that next level. As with every other point I’ve discussed, if you are unsure, then seek the correct professional advice. Poor customer service at any level will spell disaster for your business.
Additional Key Areas to Boost Your Business
Later, I’m going to include my top 10 tips to elevate your business, but before I do it’s important to mention other key areas where I believe you can make a difference.
Setting goals is an important aspect for boosting your business, but I’m not only talking about huge goals that will take some time to achieve.
Instead, goals must occur at various levels and different sizes. Some must be short-term while others are over a longer-term. You, as the entrepreneur, will have already set goals and achieved so many. Ultimately, you know the impact they have, so carrying on with them is important.
Setting goals boosts not only your business, but also your own sense of achievement after you attain them. They are a way of establishing progress and overcoming different hurdles.
If you have some difficulty creating or establishing goals, then seek advice from a business coach who can offer some friendly advice on how to proceed.
Stay up to date with technology
Staying up to date with technology is another essential point that some overlook. With expansion often comes an added reliance on technology. Not only does it make things easier, but it’s kind of expected in the world today.
By technology, I mean communications, websites, social media, and anything else that deals with not only the way you deal with customers, but also managing your business. Lately, the use of Zoom is a prime example of how companies have had to incorporate another aspect of technology to survive. That alone shows the worth of technology.
Get the Workforce
You need the correct workforce in place to lift your business to where you want it to be. Are there any employees that deserve a second chance? Do you have the correct leaders in place to help with your business?
Understanding what you need from an employee point of view before moving your business forward makes sense. You don’t want to be scrambling around trying to hire new people in a rush as that’s when mistakes happen.
My 10 Top Tips on Elevating Your Business
I admit that I could go on and on about different areas and how to deal with this entire process of moving to another level, but I’m going to make it easier to read by breaking it down into 10 tips that can make a huge difference.
1. Don’t try to do it all on your own
The first tip is to avoid trying to do this on your own. Seek advice on the best course of action for your business and to also discover any potential pitfalls that you may encounter along the way.
This isn’t a case of me telling you that you don’t know what you are doing, but there may be a number of potential pitfalls along the way. Unfortunately, those pitfalls may be invisible to those without experience. Seeking advice from people that have already gone through this will make the future a whole lot easier.
2. Create your business toolbox
Your business toolbox should contain everything you need in order to successfully grow your business. This is something specific to your own business.
This toolbox may involve a list of suppliers, people you contact regarding your finances, legal help, software, and anything else that effectively allows your business to function.
It may also include your business plan, a manual for your employees, training aspects, or any other resources that helps people know what is going on or how your company needs to be run.
3. Be aware of costs, the numbers, and double-check everything
Growing and expanding you business is fantastic, but it also comes with increased costs. Being aware of the numbers surrounding your business, and how they will change or grow with your company, should help stop any nasty surprises along the way. Cash flow problems can occur with any business, so don’t allow yourself to be caught out.
With the numbers, I do mean both the current costs you encounter as well as budgeting for the rise in costs that will come with some form of expansion. You can understand why this is important. Knowing what has to be achieved from a financial perspective will form an integral part of your entire plan.
But being aware of the costs will not be where it ends. Instead, I must stress the importance of double-checking everything. I would even suggest seeking some professional advice before you make any moves and to check you have thought about everything from this financial angle.
4. Develop your strategic plan
This tip goes back to the earlier points where I discussed the fact you cannot go into this blindly. The need for a strategic plan to assist you in taking your business to another level is something you cannot avoid.
I mentioned this earlier when I looked at planning for this expansion, but this is something you need to pour over before moving forward.
5. Expand the ways in which you reach your customers
Without customers or clients, you have no business. To take things up a notch or two, it also often means increasing the ways in which you reach your customers, but let me expand on what I mean here.
Understanding current sales channels and identifying new ones will certainly help. Also, becoming aware of how to access and reach the people within those channels makes a difference. Can you even introduce some kind of customer loyalty which may then draw in additional customers? That alone is something worth contemplating.
6. Create an advisory board
This tip may not apply to everyone, but it’s still something I would recommend even at the initial outset stage of seeking to take your business to the next level.
An advisory board is just exactly that, a number of individuals with areas of expertise who are capable of assisting you with various aspects connected to expanding your business. They can help in a variety of ways. Some will bring with them help in a specific area such as marketing, or perhaps raising investment to allow for expansion.
Having this board of advisors can make progress a lot smoother than it may otherwise have been. The resources they have available can make a significant difference to your business.
7. Make strategic acquisitions
If the situation calls for it, making strategic acquisitions can be a powerful way of moving your business to that new level. However, be warned, it’s not something you should just jump into doing.
So, what do I mean by this?
A strategic acquisition can lift your company by focusing on buying other companies that have something that will benefit your existing business. It may be their customer base, their sector of the market, or to add value to your company by expanding on what you can offer.
Additionally, perhaps it could involve buying a supplier of something important to your business that then gives you more control over that aspect?
However, more often than not, a strategic acquisition is all about snapping up the competition as that will lead to clear growth for your existing company.
But let’s go back to my warning. You want to carry out your due diligence before going ahead with this. Also, seek advice on whether or not this is a good idea and even if the acquisition you are looking at is the right one for your company.
8. Avoid tax traps
This tip is much more of a warning than others in that tax traps can be a disaster for anyone who manages to fall into one.
Tax is a complex issue. Being aware of changes in tax levels, or how things relate to your business when growth occurs is important. Seek out a tax expert and do so before you proceed. This will allow you to correctly plan for the future while already being aware of potential complications that may occur at some point.
9. Use the correct time management approach
One thing I hate is when a business owner fails to correctly manage their time. If you are all work and no play, then you are doing it wrong.
This problem can be further exacerbated when you are seeking to take your small business to a new level. People feel they then need to invest even more time into their business when, truth be told, they are already doing too much of that.
So, what do I recommend?
I recommend you need to stick to something along the lines of the 60/20/20 principle. That means you spend 60% of your time having been planned out, 20% is set aside for unforeseen events, and 20% for social aspects or additional projects.
If you are unsure about how to correctly manage your time, then that is where getting the correct assistance in order to put the right structure in place before moving forward.
But there’s one other point.
Always have time away from your business by having time with your family and friends. Expanding your business is stressful, but it needn’t be all-consuming. If you struggle to get that balance, that’s where an experienced business coach can make a huge difference.
10. Plan your exit strategy
Every business owner must have an exit strategy. There is a very real need to know what you want the end point to be with your business whether you want to pass it onto another generation, sell it to another company, or perhaps even allow a management buy-out.
No matter what the exit strategy turns out to be, you must have one in place, and that doesn’t change when dealing with growing your business.
An exit strategy forms part of your vision for the business. Without any understanding or sense of what to do with the end game, then how can you expect to move forward?
But there’s a problem. A number of small business owners are unsure of their exit strategy. They fail to understand the time scale, how to create a step-by-step plan to get to that exit point, and everything becomes a muddle.
Building an exit strategy into a long-term business plan is essential, but a business coach such as myself can help bring together this strategy to make it workable. Even if the strategy then changes along the way, knowing there is a finite point to your business will help you understand the levels you must progress through to get there.
There is a lot involved in taking your business to the next level, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. If you want to move things up a level and are unsure as to what to do, or even if this is the correct time, then don’t hesitate to contact me for a free session.