POTTSTOWN PA – After a fast start, small businesses sometimes seem to lose momentum. What happens to them and, more importantly, what can business owners do about it?
Business counselors with the Pottstown chapter of SCORE, report that – given the interconnected nature of today’s economy, even largely local businesses are influenced by trends and events in other industries and on other continents. A slow-down here might simply reflect a slow-down nationally.
A business owner’s internal approach to generating and managing growth also could be the source of dragging sales, even in the face of what appeared to be bright opportunities. The detailed business plan an owner followed since the outset may no longer be applicable in a marketplace where changes happen on a daily basis, SCORE members caution.
A growth plan that acts like an internal compass can be a helpful tool for getting things back on track.
- Start with day-to-day actions. Owners who want business to grow should make growth the focal point of everything they do.
- Gather financial details about what’s happening internally. Put a plan in writing. It does not need to be lengthy and ultra-detailed; just basic points will do. How has the business done in fulfilling its original mission? Did it start with a bang, only to see things flatten out? Is it delivering what was first promised to your customers. Fix any problems or shortfalls quickly.
- Keeping up with marketplace changes is crucial. New research may be needed to stay up-to-date. This doesn’t have to be formal. Start with a simple customer survey, or check for available research online. Make adjustments as needed.
- Communicate the growth vision to others involved with the business, including outside vendors and contractors as well as partners, investors and employees. Don’t just dream; delegate specific actions to reach those goals.
- Find out what objections customers raise to your sales effort. Why they have purchased, or declined, your product or service? Adjust your sales process to place greater emphasis on closing.
- Find valuable guidance for growth planning in two books: “Strategic Planning for Small Business Made Easy,” the latest in the “Made Easy” series from Entrepreneur Press; and “The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth,” by Steven S. Little. Both are available in bookstores and online.
Other ideas for growing businesses are available from the Pottstown chapter of SCORE, 244 High St., Suite 102, which is a unit of the national non-profit organization that offers free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Call the chapter for more information at 610-327-2673.
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