What are most important strategies that you can use to grow your small business? There are many strategies, but only 5 are really killer strategies that if you use them in the right way, they will guarantee your business growth.
The strategies that I will cover here are most important strategies for your success. They come as a result of my own experience starting and running my own business, but also as results of hundreds of entrepreneurs that have implemented them as a part of my consulting process.
It doesn’t matter if you are a small startup, or you plan to start your business, you will always need to use these strategies.
When I start my business before 8 years, I know that it will not be an overnight success. I already know that I will need to sacrifice many things that until then was something normal in my life. The first three years was the worst one. Many times I was thinking about canceling.
So, the first thing or the first important strategy for yourself will be to prepare yourself for the persistence.
You will become persistent if you dedicate and commit yourself inside your business. I don’t talk here about the obsession. It is something different. I am talking about putting yourself at the heart of your business, but about dedication and commitment that will help you grow your small business and in the same time to have a fun.
You need to understand that you can’t become a successful entrepreneur over night. There will be many ups and downs. Building a successful business is not an overnight success. There is no such thing as a good luck. Never start anything for which you are not prepared to commit 5 years of your life. For many people, that’s a long time frame. But as you can see in the next strategy, it will give you enough time to implement your plan, to experiment and test things and at last to measure what you’ve done.
2. Start with small steps
The second thing that I know, and implement as a killer strategy from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey is that I need to take small incremental steps. Even I have too many critics from the beginning from my customers and potential customers, I know that I can’t offer and do things outside my own potential.
I remember that I have doubts many times to make a big deal and jump some of my important steps in building my company. But, to be honest, my small steps saved my ass.
So, you can’t jump steps in the process of building and running a successful business.
Robert Maurer Ph.D. in his great book “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” advice following:
If you are trying to reach a specific goal, ask yourself every day: What is one small step I could take toward reaching my goal?
When you do little things, but each day, after week, month or year will come big results. So, don’t try to achieve big goals quickly. You will not succeed. In my experience, big goals that entrepreneurs try to achieve quick don’t last because they quickly become disappointed. On the other side, small steps each day will bring you to the achievement of your big goals. That’s the only way to achieve such a goal for sure.
As you can see, if you need to take 10.000 steps, and you implement 5 of them each day, you will come to the finish line in 2.000 days. It’s less than six years. Because of that, the first strategy is to be persistent and commit minimum 5 years of your life to create a successful business.
So, simply sit down and do following things:
- Setup your most important goals. Start with the goals in your mind. Probably you will have many goals you want to reach, but as with everything else prioritize them and select three to five of them that you want to reach in the next one to two years. Be sure that your goals are SMART goals.
- Make a plan to achieve your goals. When you have goals, you can start thinking about possible action steps that you will need to take in order to achieve them. Think about smaller possible steps you need to take.
- Start with the implementation. Each evening select three to five steps and put them on your to-do list for the next day. Be sure that you are committed every day to implement these three to five items on your to-do list. Don’t allow other things to procrastinate and don’t implement them as you need. If you really want to achieve your goals these action steps must be your first priority.
3. I was always open to learning something new
Even I have 8 years working experience, and as a master of science and several pieces of research with hundreds of companies, I have learned many things related to entrepreneurship and startups. But, to be honest, when I start my company I become aware that my knowledge is not so great as I think then.
When I understand this – for my luck as early as possible – I make another strategy that brings me to the stage where I am now. The strategy that I still implement now is to continuously learn something new every day.
In my everyday job, I have seen many entrepreneurs that put very high pressure on themselves to learn many new things and become experts overnight. That’s not possible. As human beings, we cannot learn new things with the speed of light. We have our own limitations — capacity of information processing.
So use these steps to implement this strategy if you really want to become an expert in your field:
- Choose maximum three subjects where you want to improve your expertise. What do you need to learn? At first, you will probably have a large list of possible learning subjects. But, this strategy will be worthless if you quickly loose your focus. So, you need to answer an additional question here: How this knowledge and expertise can help my business? You will select three most helpful subjects to be the first thing you will start learning.
- Break the selected three subjects into maximum ten topics. For example, if I want to learn about the subject related to business blogging I will divide it into the following topics: 1) how to use blog for business purposes, 2) choosing blogging platforms, 3) design business blog, 4) how to create useful content, 5) integration in marketing calendar, 6) how to find readers, and 7) managing successful business blog.
- Break all 30 topics into maximum 10 subtopics. Now you will have 300 subtopics or “to learn” items that are almost one-year learning schedule for your entrepreneurial journey. If I take the second topic – choosing blogging platforms I will divide it in following subtopics: 1) different blogging platforms, 2) pros and cons of different blogging platforms, 3) how to select the best blogging platforms, 4) features of selected blogging platform and 5) configuring selected blogging platform.
I will also create a mind map that will help me visualize what I need to learn (see image below).
But, learning as learning will not help you to succeed if you don’t implement what you have learned. So, if you want to use this strategy, you will always have two new tasks on your to-do list from now:
- Learn one new thing today, and
- Implement one thing related to what you have learned yesterday.
4. Continuous experimenting and analysis
My whole experience in business is related to experimenting, testing, analysis and improving. When I think much deeper about this I can realize that this is the essence of running and managing a business.
When I start the business I know that I need to experiment a lot. Simply if I don’t try I will not know. Yes, this strategy brings me a lot of mistakes, but in the same time a lot of experience. When a mistake becomes experience, the business potential energy of me and my business exponentially grow.
Always start with the testable hypothesis with measurable goals. Then continue with the pass and fail criteria based on the measurable goals you set for the hypothesis. After you implement the experiment in the specified period you will need to analyze the data to find the results from the experiment and appropriate actions you will need to take.
To implement this strategy follow these action steps each week:
- Develop one experiment that you want to implement next week. Start with the testable hypothesis. Setup measurable goals as results from your experiment and develop action steps you will need to take in order to execute the experiment.
- Start with the implementation of your business experiment. Be careful to take all action steps as you develop and plan in the previous step. Using experiments will require noting everything that you are doing if you really want to gain knowledge from the experiment.
- Analyze the results and repeat if you need. When you finish the implementation of your experiment, it is the right time to analyze your notes, the recorded results, and possible improvements. If the results aren’t as expected, probably you will need to change something in your action steps, or input elements into your experiment and repeat the whole process until you come to the desired results.
5. Continuous Improvements
Before eight years, when I start my business, I know that if I want to succeed I need to start slow and use continuous improvement process in order to reach some degree of success. Why? Simply because I have not enough resources to invest in my startup then. So, I need this strategy to ensure that my business slowly but surely will start to generate income and use continuous improvement process to improve my everyday operations.
Continuous improvement means that you will need to improve your business every day with the small changes. All previous strategies I mention here will bring to the life this continuous improvement strategy. For example, when you learn one thing every day and implement it into your business operations next day, you will improve your business. When you make experiments on a weekly level you will also improve your business.
So, to implement this strategy you will need to do following things:
- When you’ve got an idea make a note and record it in the appropriate place as your ideas pool. For example, you can use Evernote for this purpose (read more on how to use Evernote to improve your business). There are also many tools that can help you to write your ideas. I personally like an iPhone app called Drafts that enables me to send ideas when I write them in specific Evernote notebook that I use as ideas depository.
- Each Sunday, look at your ideas depository (in my case Evernote notebook) and select three of them to be implemented in the following week. To implement this step use some priority criteria to be sure that you will choose the most important ideas for your business as the first one for implementation.
- Divide ideas in small actions that you will need to take in order to implement them. Be sure that you will put all these actions inside your to-do list for the following week. Why you will need improvement ideas if you don’t implement them.