growing your business Archives - TAB Corporate

5 Growth Strategies for Businesses with Limited Capital

Cash Strapped, Limited Capital

Even if your business lacks unlimited capital, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan for ongoing or future growth. What matters most is doing all that you can with the resources you have.

Being cash-strapped “does not need to be the death nail of your business,” notes small business expert Melinda Emerson. “Hundreds of millions of people throughout history have started and maintained their own small businesses without access to an unending supply of cash.”

Here are five suggestions on how best to plan for growth when you’re working with limited capital:

1. Be realistic about your company’s growth potential. Prior to making the leap into scaling up, says Jim Morris, President and Owner of The Alternative Board Tennessee Valley, “the business owner should do a cash flow and working capital analysis to determine if the business can fund itself adequately as it grows.” Financial preparation, as well as a working knowledge of your company’s current and future needs, he adds, “must be evaluated to avoid cash problems and unpleasant surprises that can come with growth.”

2. Develop a focused marketing plan. To get where you want to be, your planning should include a focused marketing strategy. With your limited capital resources in mind, establish a marketing framework that combines an in-depth knowledge of your target audience with a comprehensive competitive analysis of the marketplace. This way, you “enter the fray” with a keener grasp of what expansion costs will look like over a set period of time.

3. Maintain a tight approach to hiring. Attempting to grow on a limited budget is tricky enough without going on a hiring spree. How much of your future growth depends on having a full-time staff? Where possible, look to outsource key operational activities to meet your expansion goals, without incurring added expenses related to payroll, healthcare and other legally mandated benefits. A lean workforce can help you shift valuable resources elsewhere.

4. Diversify or add a new offering. There may be ways to refine your existing goods or services to attract a broader array of customers (in addition to your existing customer base). Or you can explore a new offering that broadens the appeal of your company. When you diversify, you “also protect your existing customer base and create multiple income streams that can often fill seasonal lows and, of course, increase sales and profit margins.”

5. Boost your social media marketing activities. One path towards effective growth lies in leveraging the ever-growing power of social media. Numerous TAB Members have successfully harnessed that power to increase sales, including the following:

  • Boosting brand awareness by encouraging satisfied customers to post positive reviews on Yelp and elsewhere
  • Using a Reddit profile to generate new sales leads
  • Posting new content on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere that highlights your status as an industry thought leader (with links back to the “Learn More” page on your business website)
  • Synchronizing email campaigns with social media advertising for broader impact
  • Finding and attracting customers through unique Twitter hashtags

As long as you avoid the hard sell, social media is a fantastic venue for posting customer testimonials, details about a new product launch, news about special sales promotions, etc., without having to spend vast amounts of money on advertising campaigns.

Small businesses can’t match the resources of a larger competitor, but there are still many ways to plan for and achieve expansion. The key is a wise application of limited capital with the right growth strategy.

Want to learn more about strategic planning and price increases? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

How To Create a Strategic Plan for Your Business

Strategic Planning

Are you hoping to invest more time into growing your business instead of getting bogged down by day-to-day business challenges? In our last article, we put the spotlight on the most important tool for refocusing your energies on your company’s core goals: strategic planning. We concentrated on what a strategic plan looks like, and we detailed the reasons it’s a necessary tool in order to successfully manage your organization. We also provided details from the most recent Small Business Pulse Survey showing the real-world advantages of the strategic planning process.

This time out, we’re focusing on a strategic planning template that will help you to craft your own strategic business plans. TAB’s Strategic Business Leadership® (SBL) process provides an effective
framework for transforming your personal vision of your company into a clear and concise road map that will help to guide your organization’s response to every new challenge and opportunity. The SBL strategic planning process is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses develop practical strategic plans with attainable, measurable goals. Use your “big picture” focal points to meet today’s business challenges with SBL’s five-step strategic planning template:

  1. Align organizational vision with your personal vision.
  2. Turn a critical eye toward your business.
  3. Develop the plans needed to meet your goals.
  4. Carry out your plans.
  5. Continually evaluate and adjust your plans as business conditions change.

The Five-Step SBL Strategic Planning Template

  1. Vision. To develop a truly effective strategic plan, you’ll first need to take an honest look at what you want to get out of your business. Develop a written Personal Vision Statement, one that details what you’d like to see your business strive towards and how that connects with your goals for your personal life. This isn’t a statement you need to share with employees, investors or customers, so be honest with yourself: are you hoping to sell the business? Bring in new management? Turn the company over to your son or daughter? After you answer these questions, you can develop a Company Vision that will ensure your management team and employees understand your team’s common goal.
  2. Analysis. Next, you’ll need to detail the features of your company and the business challenges that loom on the horizon. One proven method for accomplishing this is the SWOT analysis for identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Assess the things your company does best, and consider the areas where you fall short. Ask yourself about the characteristics that make your company unique, and describe the way your customers truly view your organization. Then identify emerging technologies or markets that might provide new opportunities going forward. Finally, make note of external factors that could cause trouble in the future, such as new regulations or competitors.
  3. Plan. You’ll need to detail critical success factors, goals, strategies and action plans as part of the SBL strategic planning template.
    • Critical Success Factors. Identify your organization’s most important large-scale objectives to help direct your efforts.
    • Goals. Set up concrete goals that can be achieved within one to three years. If your Critical Success Factor is expanding your product line, for example, you could set a goal of developing two new products within the next 18 months.
    • Strategies. Develop guidelines that will help you to meet your goals. In the above example, that might include allocating more resources to your R&D department to facilitate product development.
    • Action Plans. Produce a plan of action that meets SBL’s “S.M.A.R.T.” criteria: your plan must be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, assigned to a Responsible party, and fit within a set Timeline.
  4. Take action. A plan won’t do you much good if you and your team let it sit idle.
    Focus on effective communication to make sure you meet your goals. Your whole organization needs to understand the direction you’re heading and the role they’ll play in making sure you reach your destination. You’ll also need to review and modify your plan as often as possible (preferably weekly), which will allow you to factor in new and unforeseen developments. Also, remember that growing your business will require your full participation. As the business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that your company moves towards your objectives.
  5. Turn the Wheel. The last factor in the SBL strategic planning template is what we refer to as “Turning the Wheel.” You didn’t become a business leader because you wanted to stick with the status quo or let others guide your fate. Take ownership over your company’s progress. If things are veering off course, review your plan and revise it. If you need to change course to respond to the loss of a major client or as a result of difficulties acquiring capital, you’ll need to embrace your role as a leader. If you remember that your strategic plans will need to be dynamic and malleable, you’ll be better prepared to respond to the unexpected and to chart a new path forward.

The strategic planning process is an essential part of any company’s decision-making process. Regardless of your level of experience, and no
matter how large or successful your organization is, TAB’s SBL strategic planning template can help you to excel when faced with tomorrow’s business challenges. You’ve got a finite supply of business resources, and you’ll use them best when you move forward with purpose and conviction. Start the strategic planning process today.

What would you consider the most important aspect of a cogent business strategy? Comment below to let us know what you’d need to include in your strategic plan.