Every new business grows from the seeds of an idea. Some wither at the seedling stage, others remain as saplings, while others strive for the sky. But all growth requires the same up-front fertilization.
“For any business, you have to begin with the end in mind,” says Gary Prenevost, who calls himself Canada’s leading franchise matchmaker. Prenevost matches those looking to buy a franchise with franchised companies that align with their personality, style and goals. “And it is not just about income. It’s about lifestyle, it’s about team and hours, and what kind of work makes them happy.”
Prenevost reports that 60 per cent of the franchisees in Canada aren’t actually interested in growth past a certain point.
“The majority of business owners, once they hit a certain stride, are at the fat-and-happy stage,” Prenevost says. “That’s good! You’ve got what most people go into business for: independence, freedom and control. Why would you want to mess that up?”
But what about when you need growth to hit your stride, or when you’re interested in obtaining and achieving more and better for you and your business?
“You will only be able to make decisions by the seat of your pants for so long,” says David Reeve, founder of Unleash Culture. “There will come a tipping point in your business where you will need to have structure if you want progressive, sustainable growth.”
Reeve coaches entrepreneurs on how to implement a growth structure that is unique to the personality and values of the brand’s founder and leadership team. “Do not be afraid of putting in this structure. It keeps you from chasing the ‘shiny objects’ that can kill your growth.”
Here are Reeve’s tips for a strong growth strategy:
- Surround yourself with people who like to do things you don’t like to do and get comfortable paying for these services. Often small business owners think they need to do everything themselves because only they can do it and/or they want to save money. Understand the difference between spending and investing. If you invest in the services of others, it allows you to spend more time working on your business instead of in your business.
- Keep it simple. Your strategic plan can fit on one page. Look three years out and reverse engineer what you need to do to get there. Use lead indicators, not lag indicators. Track your progress and results daily so you can make adjustments before it’s too late.
- Hold yourself accountable. All excuses are equal – as in equally bad.
- Spend as much time telling the character side of your brand story as you do the skill side. Character is what’s going to emotionally hook people into your brand. They expect you have skill. They are not expecting to be emotionally hooked. This leads to growth.
Reeve tested these tips in his own growth strategy. “My growth strategy was based on two things,” he says. “How to build an active income stream and how to build a passive income stream. I knew from day one I wanted both.”
Reeve’s entire approach to brand-building is documented in his new book Unleash Culture: How to Design, Implement and Sustain a Powerful Culture that Will Accelerate the Growth of Your Brand.
Back to those who might be happy with your stride, your status quo. You can’t just stand still or you will actually lose ground. Prenevost lays out what you need to do to protect your position:
- Understand attrition in your business and how you replace it.
- Understand your customer cycle, the value of each customer and the length of time they’re on board with you.
- Stay educated and informed in order to stay relevant.
- Anticipate and be ready for what’s coming next.
It’s not necessary to drive growth. But if it is part of your plan, then creating a structure for the growth of your small business can make the difference between success and sorry.
Between them, Boni and John Wagner-Stafford have five decades of experience as entrepreneurs and/or providing consulting services to other small businesses across Canada. Boni and Joni are the authors of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Plan, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.