Many small business owners have the passion and vision to grow. If you are hoping to take your small business to the next step, it is important to carefully develop a strategy and plan. Even if you have already defined your objectives and goals, these questions can help you fine-tune your growth efforts to ensure that you have a sound strategy.
1. Where are you going in the next year? In the next 3 – 5 years?
Clear direction is very important to achieve successful growth, so take some time to develop focused short and long term goals. Make sure that you have a clear and easy to communicate summary of where you would like your business to go in both the short and the long term.
2. How are your customer’s needs going to change?
It’s important to take some time to evaluate if your customer’s needs are going to change. In today’s environment of increased connectivity, it’s likely that these needs are going to evolve, even in the short term. Look internally to your business offerings and solutions to ensure that they are fit to address customers’ changing needs.
3. What are the most important challenges you’re facing right now?
Make lists of the challenges you and your company are facing. Determine which of these you are actively dealing with and which you have not yet developed a plan for. Determine the strategies and methods you use to deal with these challenges. For those that you have yet to develop a plan for, consider if there are new technologies that you could use as solutions.
4. Of all of the products and services that we sell, which do people buy first and why?
By asking this question, you can determine the biggest strengths and weaknesses in your product and service offerings. If you find that certain products are less popular and dragging down sales, you can consider using those costs towards other offerings that may be more popular. If you are planning to introduce new offerings, this will help you analyze which customers will respond best to.
5. What new products can we sell to existing customers?
If you decide that the best way to grow is to sell more to current customers, make sure that your new product addresses their needs and fits well with the resources that you have. Ask your customer’s which problems they are having and then brainstorm new product ideas that would help overcome these problems. Make sure to ask for customer’s feedback on your ideas. Once you’ve found the most promising idea or two, take some time to test these before fully rolling them out to see how your customers respond.
6. Why does a customer buy from us and not someone else?
It’s critical to understand your specific value proposition and what about this proposition causes customers to buy from you versus your competitors. Understanding this will help you really understand the benefits that you offer and ensure that you maintain these benefits through growth.
It’s important to always keep improvement and innovation in the back of your mind to ensure that your business continues to move forward. However, before you grow, make sure that you answer these questions so that you can not only grow, but also thrive.