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Growing the One Man Show

Grow your business: 10-step checklist

If your a successful freelancer, you might want to consider hiring other contractors so you can grow your business. I did!. This requires, however, that you take a methodical approach to understanding running what works and what doesn’t. Now you’re ready to take a step back and be strategic about how – and when – to grow your business.

10 steps for business growth

Seeing an opportunity for business growth can be exciting. But turning your big idea into a practical reality will take careful research and planning – not to mention investment. Use this 10-step list as your reality check.

  • Review your funds
    If you want to grow your business, start by reviewing your cashflow. Work out how much money is coming in and going out. Use the information to plan the year ahead. Your plan should identify how much cash you need to invest in your company’s growth and what you will use it for – for example, hiring employees or buying equipment.
  • Review day-to-day processes
    Could you and your staff be more efficient in the way you do things? Do your business practices and policies get in the way sometimes? If yes, it might be time to review your day-to-day processes to identify what you can improve.
  • Prepare your team
    Having a team of committed and skilled employees is an essential part of any business, particularly one that plans on expansion. If you want to grow your business, first take a step back. Ask yourself:
    • Do I have the right team?
    • Do my people have the right skills?
    • Do they feel sufficiently rewarded?
    • What can I do to retain staff and help them feel more committed?
    • Have I planned for staff turnover?

Think about how you can prepare your team for change and company growth.

  • Know your market competition
    It’s important to get really clear about your place in the market. Take time to look at your market share. Do the same for your main competition. Who are your competitors today and who will they be tomorrow? Carry out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to work out your direction.
  • Update the content on your website
    Before you attract a new audience to your website or blog, make sure the content on your site is up to date and works for your target audience.
  • Make sure that your website can easily be found online, using search engine optimisation [US: optimization]. Use the Google Keyword Planner tool to check you have the right keywords for Google search. For example, if you were selling women’s tennis shirts, you would include those words on your web pages.
  • Review your social media strategy – are you using the right networks and tools to increase engagement and  traffic to your site?
  • Ask your customers for feedback on your website. You could get them to check content, hyperlinks and the search tool.
    1. Set up new partnerships
      You can’t do everything alone. Think about whether you need to set up partnerships with other companies. Maybe it is time to invest in or buy another business. Selling online might work well if you sell offline. Setting up a franchise is another idea.
  • Bring in external experts
    It’s always good to get a fresh perspective from a trusted outsider. Ask an expert to review your business operations or your marketing strategy. Get someone skilled and knowledgeable who is comfortable giving honest, constructive feedback you can use to improve your business.
  • Prepare for an economic crisis
    No one likes to think about a downturn. But we all know they happen. Make sure you’re ready. Review your cashflow and identify the liquid assets you have. Set up an emergency fund (if you don’t have one) for when times are lean.
  • Review your products and services
    Make sure your products and services hit the mark by carrying out market research. Use the results to improve what you offer and to identify the language your customers use to talk about your products and services. Reuse their language in your company communications.
  • Update your communications plan
    A good communications plan will identify the key messages you want to get across to your customers. It will also identify how you want to communicate. Update your plan to ensure it covers the bases – from purchase confirmation emails for customers who’ve bought your product online through to invitations to exclusive events for VIP customers.

Research, plan, invest and grow

There’s no easy shortcut when it comes to growing your business. Instead it takes hard work and plenty of research, planning and investment. Use this checklist to grow your business and succeed.

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