I have been in business and a serial entrepreneur since 1988 officially, unofficially I started in 1979 moving lawns, pulling weeds, and washing cars… So suffice to say I’ve been at it for a while. Even so it ceases to amaze me how very little some small business men and women actually know about business. One of the biggest things that frosts my hide is the lack of understanding of what is needed for marketing. I teach both graduate and post graduate marketing classes; from intro marketing to advanced marketing theories and there is one thing I do in all of those classes; I ask a very simple question. “When creating a marketing plan, what is the first thing you need?” I get a myriad of answers, I get things like:
I find it amazing that many small businesses do not or have ever had a business plan; to me this is like getting in your car but not knowing how to get where you’re going and just driving in circles. In order to successfully grow your business, you should have a business plan; quite honestly a business should not open its doors until it has one. Many small businesses mistakenly think that a business plan has to be elaborate with lots of charts and spreadsheets, and this is not necessarily the case. A business plan can be a simple two or three page document that simply out lines where you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there. Now most businesses do know where they want to go, they just don’t have a plan on how to get there. Think of your company as a car, and think of your business plan as your GPS. If you take the GPS out of the car, you may have an address, but no idea how to get to it. Continue reading →
My father told me many years ago when I first went into business that if you have dreams of becoming a big business someday than you need to run your small business like a big business. I asked why? He said because like everything in life habits are hard to break, including those habits you create for your business. If you have plans of growing your small business into a large enterprise someday than the habits you create now will have an effect on your business down the road. Regardless of how small your business is, even if it is just a one man operation, you need to treat it as if it were a large company.
By doing this right from the git-go will help increase productivity, reduce costs, and help your overall business run smoothly. Some things to think about are picking a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program that has the capability of growing alongside your business. Having a multi user CRM that can not only be expanded, if not to an indefinite number of employees than to a large number, but can also be used by multiple employees and in multiple locations is very beneficial to a growing company and there are several out there that can be used online and the cost is relatively inexpensive, most of these charge by the user so you only pay for what you use. Another benefit to a business of any size is to create a paperless system. This is not as hard as it sounds. Throw the fax machine away and get an efax number which allows you to receive faxes via email as well as the ability to send via email and for a very small cost, probably less than you are paying the phone company for a fax line. Scan all paper documents than shred them. By using an efax number many of those docs will never get printed, you will receive and file them electronically. Get a phone system with an auto attendant, there are many companies out there that offer this service and it is much cheaper than you think, and will give you the look and feel of a bigger company.
The bottom line is if you think small, you will probably always be small, and even if you do grow, your growing pains will be considerable, however if you start out operating as a large company than becoming a large company will not be that big of a deal, you will be ready. To become big, you have to think big.