One of the best ways of growing any business is to pay attention to those who are already doing it well. Over the last 21 years working with startups and large corporations, I have learned that there are similar strategies across all businesses, and some more prevalent in the Clark County area. I have compiled a list of my top four observations that are sure to help you increase not only revenue, but lifelong customers, and your circle of influence.
Observation One: Build a Foundation
Think about the most successful company you know. What kind of processes and structure do they have in place? What are the main departments and how are they utilized? Does the CEO clean the bathrooms, do the accounting and run the marketing? Whether you are an entrepreneur, a small- to mid-sized business owner or a big business, a solid foundation is critical for growth. A few helpful resources include: WSU MAP program, SBA, the Small Business Assistance Program, WorkSource, SCORE and many others. They are there to advise you in setting up a mission, vision, business plan, strategic plan, Customer Relationship Management program, profit and loss statements, target market analysis and goal setting.
Observation Two: Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators are used to measure progress towards your goals. Accountability is a scary word for some, but imperative when setting any type of goal. KPIs drive behavior and help with not only forecasting, but tell you if what you have been doing is helping you achieve the overall goals of the business. If you don’t know where you are starting at, how can you tell if you are growing? How can you plan for the future? For example, how can you tell how much profit are you making from your revenue if you have not tracked and measured it? This is a very important step to determine if sustainable growth is even possible. That’s how budgets are created. Metrics are needed to measure and track things like revenue, profit, customer service, closing ratio, etc.
Observation Three: Retention
Truly take care of your clients and your employees. Successful companies understand that retention is a key strategy for growth. Having your clients refer their friends and family can really grow a business for years to come. Some offer customer appreciation rewards, others just practice going above and beyond for their customers. It is still important to maintain the integrity of the company’s policies and procedures. If you give too much and sacrifice too often, it could be more of a detriment to the company. When it comes to employees, high turnover does not benefit anyone. Invest in education, wellness programs, career pathing and personalized incentives. Some great resources are Clark College, WSU Vancouver, local speaking events and bringing in local subject matter consultants for assistance.
Observation Four: Get Involved in the Community
In Clark County, we love building and being involved in our community. There are several networking and nonprofit organizations and media outlets, where events have anywhere from 50 to 500 local professionals getting together just to mix and mingle. There is a term for people that are really taking advantage of a lot of these opportunities, they are called “The Movers and Shakers.” I highly recommend diversifying your networking and nonprofit portfolio. It can get a bit overwhelming if you don’t align your efforts with your mission, vision and values you have established during your “foundation stage.”
A healthy balance is key. Donating too much, or spending too much time networking can put a strain on time and finances. Allocate a budget, pro bono work and time for long-term sustainable growth. Some amazing resources for ways to get involved in your community are the Nonprofit Network of Southwest Washington, the Vancouver Business Journal, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and Impactful People NW.
There are several variables that play into the strategy that you need to grow your business. The one thing I can tell you that is the most consistent across everything is that a successful small- to mid-sized business melds the structure of large business with the flexibility and humanity of a small business. If you implement even one of these observational strategies into your own business, you will see growth, but implementing a custom strategy across your entire business will lead you to sustainable growth. Make it a great business!
Erika Laws is a sales strategist and owner of Impactful Sales Solutions, and is the executive director of Impactful People NW.