Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in March 2020, we’ve seen example after example of the economic wreckage it has caused — more than 100,000 U.S. small businesses have closed permanently, and American workers have been laid off by the millions. Every business enterprise, from the smallest mom-and-pop outfit to the largest multinational corporation, has been directly affected by this worldwide crisis.
Even if your business is one of the lucky ones that has survived or even thrived during this time of financial upheaval, it pays to keep a close eye on a solid growth plan, a road map that team leaders can buy into to guide their day-to-day operations.
Today’s business climate is anything but clear, and conditions are changing on a weekly or even daily basis. The pandemic has scrambled our collective confidence like a blender. Especially during a busy or stressful time, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and put off looking at goals or even too far into the future.
Rapidly and consistently growing businesses typically have something in common: a vision of the pathway to success and a plan that the core team understands and believes in. Businesses with massive growth are aggressive. They have big goals that take them outside their comfort zone.
I see it in virtually every case I take on. A seasoned entrepreneur who has a great command of their business and customer needs, who simply devotes themselves and their team to getting through the day-to-day management, makes no plan to grow. Top entrepreneurs need a guide. They need someone who sees outside their box, the broader path to real growth; and just as importantly can make that owner commit to their growth plan. That is precisely the guidance companies need to clear the $1 million per year hurdle, the $10 million per year hurdle, and even those moving from $100 million in sales to the promised land of making their firm a billion-dollar company.
The opening moves for growth are virtually boilerplate for every business, including:
• Clarity: Having a crystal-clear understanding of your competition, as well as your unique value proposition, will give potential customers a far better understanding of why they should be working with you. Just as importantly, how is that driving customers to your business? And perhaps most significantly of all, exactly who is your core customer?
• Envisioning the Future: Without using numbers, try to describe a milestone or series of milestones you see your business achieving on the way to reaching your goal.
• Quantify Your Capabilities: Next, identify your top capability that you do not currently have but must possess within three years. What’s No. 2 on the list? What’s No. 3? Thinking along those lines will go a long way toward crafting a specific three-year plan.
• Map Out a Quarterly Plan: Once you have identified your big goals, whether they involve revenue, profit, cash on hand, units sold or another metric, take action to reach each of them, quarter by quarter.
While you should focus on affirmative moves to grow a business, it is of critical importance to play strong defense. We call it the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ scenario. If there is a problem with how your company is perceived, such as being out of date or slow to deliver, the owner may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. The real problem in the customers’ minds may be 10 times larger and 10 times more negative than a business owner realizes. Self-evaluation of your company’s weaknesses and boldly dealing with them may hold a key to hidden opportunities.
KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF INCLUDE:
• Who on the team is really pulling the weight? It is a question that should be raised on a regular basis.
• Do you have the right people in the right roles?
• Do you have an “energy vampire” blocking the positives the rest of the team works diligently to build?
• Do your employees truly understand the role the leader of the company has envisioned for them?
You would be amazed at how many times an employee sees themselves as a center fielder when they were supposed to be playing right field. Sometimes, it’s not the employee’s problem. It’s a matter of management not clearly stating the employee’s role.
The new year is a perfect time to shake up the old way of doing business and develop a plan for not only survival during this economic crisis, but for robust growth in 2021. With some focus and planning, the stage may be set for a successful year and future.
David Chavez is a CPA and owner/CEO of Assured Strategy, a Las Vegas-based consulting firm that advises business owners and executives on a range of issues, from developing strategy and execution to cash management, leadership and team building. He and his colleagues guide business leaders through change and successful execution of their plans for growth and expansion and have represented more than 200 companies throughout North America. Chavez is a certified Scaling Up coach and has taken five companies public.