How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

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How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

The following excerpt is from the staff of Entrepreneur Media’s book Finance Your Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Note: This excerpt was guest-written by Brenton Hayden, founder of Renters Warehouse.

Succession planning can seem daunting, maybe even depressing for some. After all, planning for someone else to take over after you’ve left the company isn’t exactly the most exciting prospect.

But if you’re planning on retiring at some point, or even hoping to step back from having an active role in the day-to-day business of your company, then having someone ready and waiting to take over is crucial for your company’s continued success.

I was 21 when I made the decision to retire early — perhaps a somewhat lofty ambition. After all, at that time, I had just founded my company, Renters Warehouse, and had less than a year of operating experience behind me. But it was a dream of mine, so I set out to make it happen.

One of the first things I realized was that a company shouldn’t be dependent on any one person for its survival. So I got to work building and scaling my company, all while ensuring that it was set up to run independently of me.

My goal was to exit by the time I was 27. To do that, I needed a plan, $7 million after tax and a successor to take over my role at the company.

In many ways, having an exit strategy in mind right from the start saved me from a significant amount of hassle. I was able to build my company brick by brick upon the idea of it being eventually run by someone else. My successor was able to easily fit into my shoes since the company wasn’t ever designed to be totally reliant on me.

It took work, but the transition proved to be completely worth it. I’m proud to say that since my retirement, Renters Warehouse continues to grow and thrive.

Succession planning often takes years to facilitate, so it’s important to start early. Here are a few things that helped prepare me for a successful exit.

1. Build a solid foundation

The key to a successful transition is to start building a solid foundation right from the start. Don’t make the mistake of designing your company to depend on you — take this approach, and your company will be doomed from the moment you step out the door. Instead, try to work towards implementing clear systems that someone else will be able to seamlessly step into and follow. That way, when you exit, your company can function just fine in your absence.

2. Set target dates

Before you start looking at potential successors, it’s important to commit to a target date. This is only fair, after all — it’s hard to keep a potential candidate indefinitely without a timeline. Setting clear goals and milestones and working backwards from there allows you to break things up into manageable steps and enables you to have a more effective (and actionable) plan.

3. Identify key roles

Identify crucial roles in the company that will need to be filled. It won’t just be “your position.” Depending on how you’ve scaled your company, you may need to think about the many different roles you have in the business. If you’re sourcing your successor internally like I did, you’ll need to fill their position as well.

4. Define the competencies required for these roles

Decide what skills are required to fill the roles you’ve identified. Once you’ve established this, you can start assessing people based upon these criteria. I firmly believe the best talent is often internal, but of course, this depends on the talent pool you have to draw from.

5. Plan for the future

When sourcing talent or looking for a successor, it’s a good idea to look to the future. Don’t just think about where your company is now, but ask yourself where it’s likely to be down the road. Which talent could help take your company further? Your ideal successor may be someone with an entirely different skill set to bring to the table.

6. Prepare your team

I believe it’s important to have employees and management who are just as invested in your long-term vision as you are. Having a solid supporting team can help make the transition much easier for everyone. In order for your successor to thrive, your team has to be onboard and fully support them.

7. Train and empower your successor

While you may be lamenting the fact that you don’t have a suitable candidate ready to step into your place, the fact is, there’s no such thing as a “ready-now” successor. Even the best candidate will require some training to prepare them to take over your job. They’ll get there in time.

The true litmus test is to give a potential successor some of your responsibilities. I sought to empower many of the key executives at my company. I gave them full access to the books and called on them for important management decisions. From the start, I saw to it that they were involved with everything from branding to hiring decisions.

8. Implement measurables

Finally, if you’re planning on retaining some measure of involvement after stepping back, it’s important to implement a system that will track how well your successor is managing the company. I use a scorecard system that uses major metrics to track the health of the company. These metrics include month-over-month growth, customer satisfaction ratings, average units under management per employee, new accounts and cancelled accounts.

Having numbers such as this holds people accountable, measures success and gives you peace of mind when you review the numbers on a weekly or monthly basis. As a retired CEO, this allows me to stay out of the day-to-day operations of the company but still gives me the chance to intervene if I see a problem.

Keep in mind that it’s less about the plan itself and more about the result. Every succession plan will be different and should be designed around the needs of your company. The best plans should flex and change along with your company’s requirements.

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

Josh Taylor teaches small business owners how to thrive in tough times.

For small business owners who thought the year 2021 was going to be dramatically different (i.e., dramatically better) than 2020, one month in has revealed that tough times and changing consumer patterns will be with us for a lot longer.

But Josh Taylor, a coach certified in Donald Miller’s Business Made Simple system, believes business owners cannot just survive but actually thrive. I sat down with Taylor to get his specific advice.

Kevin Kruse: You say small businesses can actually thrive this year, as long as they avoid six costly mistakes. What are they?

Josh Taylor: The first one is you’re not paying attention to the overhead of the business. Two of the biggest expenses for most businesses is their payroll and their office space. Are you getting the value you’re paying for in your payroll? Do you see your payroll as an investment in your business? If so, are you making wise investments?

This can be difficult because many small business owners are employing family and friends. But the best question to ask is, “If someone else were looking at your business’ payroll budget, what decisions would they make?”

Kruse: You mentioned seeing your payroll as an investment. What does that actually look like?

Taylor: It really leads to the next mistake. Part of owning or running a business with employees means leading people. If your employees don’t see their paychecks as investments you’re making in the business, your business is going to fail.

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You need to train your employees to understand the value they bring (or should be bringing) to your business. For example, does your assistant see his job as someone you’ve hired to type emails and run errands for you while you play golf? Or does he understand the best value you bring to the company is by making connections and bringing clients and vendors to the business?

You need to train your employees to see each paycheck they receive as an investment and ask themselves, “am I a good investment for this business?”

Kruse: Your third warning also has to do with memorable mission statements.

Taylor: Most businesses have mission statements or something that resembles one. The problem is, most of them are not very good. They’re boring, stale, and forgettable. If your employees and customers don’t really know why you’re in business, they aren’t going to care about the success of your business. That’s why I work with companies to help them create clear, simple, and memorable mission statements that make their customers and employees want to go with them on the journey.

Kruse: Your next two mistakes have to do with productivity.

Taylor: Honestly, Kevin, you’ve been one of the experts I look to in this area. I’ve loved your books on productivity and recommend them to my clients all the time.

Productivity problems really go back to the fact that you don’t have a personal plan or vision for your own life. Every small business is connected to a person. If the owner does not know where her own life is going and what that looks like five and ten years from now, she’s not really going to know what the best next step is.

When you don’t have a life plan that helps you create a clear vision for what the future will look like, you’ll make decisions that could devastate your business… and your life.

That’s why I help my clients develop a life plan and a 1, 5, and 10-year vision for their life. That way they can confidently know what to focus on and what to say ‘no’ to.

It’s the same reason why I help them avoid the 5th mistake: not spending their time budget wisely each day. I help my clients develop a daily ritual where in just 15 minutes a day they can develop a plan that helps them accomplish more in one day than they ever thought possible.

Kruse: Your last one might be one most small business owners are afraid of.

Taylor: Absolutely, but it’s one of the most effective ways to grow a business. If you aren’t using your customer list to drive more profit, you will fail. That means you should be creating an email list of your customers and potential customers. I’m not talking about buying a list. I’m talking about finding ways to get your customers’ email addresses and stay in touch with them often.

We call these sales emails and nurturing emails. Most businesses should stop offering paper receipts and start sending them via email. Then, they follow up those emails with a nice thank you email, some emails that offer value based on the products or services you sell, as well as offers and promotions for other products you sell.

When you create your customer list, you don’t have to spend so much money on social media ads, because you have a list you own and profit from.

Whether you are successful or not in business depends on your ability to lead and manage your company effectively. The following advice will ensure that you stay on the right path and can avoid any major setbacks.

Be patient and have confidence in yourself that you and your business can thrive and prosper well into the future. Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong or not working, put your time and energy into the following elements that will ensure you can overcome these roadblocks and attract and keep loyal customers. When you concentrate on the areas that will have the greatest impact, you’ll be on your way to making a name for yourself and for your company that people come to know and love.

Have A Plan & Eliminate Distractions

One tip to help you and your business thrive is to have a plan in place for what you want to achieve. You must set goals and document a business roadmap that outlines where you’re going and specifics about how you’ll get there. Without a plan, you risk going with the flow and making changes on the fly that may be detrimental to reaching your full potential and being able to thrive. You can conquer your plan more easily when you commit to eliminating distractions. Get comfortable saying no to people who request your time and attention for projects that simply aren’t a priority for you.

Protect You & Your Company

Unfortunately, accidents happen, and negative situations arise in the workplace. Protect you and your company by considering using an In-House Drug Testing for Employee option that’s quick and effective in getting you the answers you need. You can reduce risk and save your company money by using this type of solution. You want to ensure that everyone at your workplace is safe and out of harm’s way. The only way to do this is to confirm that the employees you have working for you are following the rules and laws and not doing anything that’s going to jeopardize your business and reputation.

Know Your Finances

Another tip to help you and your business thrive is to know and understand your finances in detail. Educate yourself about your financial situation and any issues that may be cause for concern. Keep records of all your transactions and follow strict budgets so you can get a better handle on your spending and know where your money is going at all times.

Learn How to Problem Solve Effectively

You and your business will perform well when you don’t let obstacles stand in the way of your success. Therefore, learn how to problem-solve effectively and get to the bottom of issues quickly. Focus on what you can do to move forward, instead of letting difficulties that will inevitably arise get and stand in your way. You can reduce your stress and make forward progress at your workplace when you solve problems and implement changes that will help you make wiser choices in the future. Let facts and figures guide you and not your emotions.

Commit to Better Work-Life Balance

You’re going to get further in your career and more done on any given day when you feel your best. Therefore, commit to a better work-life balance and taking good care of yourself. Proactively manage your time and prioritize your tasks to achieve more and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Set a positive example by not always staying late at the office and taking breaks frequently, so your employees do the same and are more productive overall. When you work too much and don’t make time for family and what you enjoy, you risk burning out and falling short of meeting your goals.

Study Your Competitors

The competition is out there and it’s fierce. You can’t sit back and hope that you outperform your competitors without a game plan in place. Study what they’re doing and know where they’re falling short so you can step in and win over their customers. Understand what’s working for them and what’s not to get a better handle on which initiatives you should focus on at your business. Stay informed of industry trends and customer purchasing habits so you can offer products and services that meet these needs.

Go Digital

Digitizing your business is another way to help your company thrive and overcome challenges. Today, technology is vital in running a business. It has brought better ways to efficiently conduct business activities by providing better methods, solving problems, reducing time wastage, and many others.

Digitizing your business can save you costs and time. You will have less paperwork lying around, and you can easily access them online much faster. Digital platforms can also protect your data from unauthorized personnel. Unlike storing hard copy files, which can get lost or stolen, you can easily recover your work. Neil Patel stresses that marketing your businesses through online platforms can increase your customer base.

Digital marketing also helps to drive more traffic to your online website, which results in your business’s growth. It is also worth noting that technology is changing now and then. For this, you need to remain alert and look out for online opportunities that will grow your business. However, it would help if you were cautious when moving to the digital world as it involves a lot of risks that might lead to huge financial losses.

Conclusion

You and your business will thrive when you implement these types of improvements. You’ll soon notice a positive response from employees, customers, and business leaders alike. Stay focused and committed to working hard and ensuring you follow through with your to-do list to help you thrive and overcome future challenges.

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

Thomas Oppong

Founder at Alltopstartups and author of Working in The Gig Economy. His work has been featured at Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and Inc. Magazine.

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

So, you’ve finally mustered up some courage and decided to ditch that soul-crushing 5-to-9 routine in order to start your own business. Way to go!

However, before you take a leap into the murky waters of entrepreneurship, it’s essential to research your market and see who you can grow your small business.

At first, you will be able to work on your own and run your home-based service business without inventory, employees, or an office and you’ll be satisfied with the fact that you can make some money without additional costs and investments.

But, once the number loyal customer base starts growing, you’ll have to start scaling your business, and for that, you need resources and a well-thought-out strategy. Otherwise, things can easily spiral out of control and ruin your business.

[1] Marketing Matters. Small businesses struggle with their overall budget so that there’s very little room for marketing in their financial plan. But, if you want your business to grow, you simply can’t rely on word of mouth solely. You still need to invest in promoting your products or services as that’s the only way to reach potential customers and get them interested in your offer.

There’s one big mistake that many entrepreneurs and start-up owners make and that can jeopardize their business – they cut marketing expenses. Such a practice can be particularly detrimental because when you’re going through a rough patch, you should be promoting your business at the top of your lungs, as that’s what will bring you more customers, more sales, and more profit. The last sentence clarifies the reasoning behind the idea that you should invest in your marketing all the time.

[2] Build Loyalty Customer Loyalty. While it’s true that a regular influx of new customers means pumping fresh blood into your business, by no means does it imply that you should take your existing clients for granted. Quite the opposite.

It’s somewhere between five and 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. Moreover, the odds of selling to your existing customers are 60-70%, while the probability of selling to your new prospects varies between 5-20%.

In order to get your customers to come back and stay loyal, you should:

  • Make superb customer service a priority. A happy customer is a loyal customer, so make sure to provide your customers with everything they need to make the most of your product or service. This means creating an effective onboarding procedure, a comprehensive Help section, skilled and knowledgeable customer support reps, and a chatbot which will be available 24/7 to handle customer questions and issues.
  • Encourage customer feedback. Not only will you allow your customers to have their say and show them that their opinion matters, but you’ll also gain valuable insights which will help you improve your product, its features, as well as your customer service.
  • Offer customer loyalty programs. Incentives are an important part of customer loyalty. Free shipping, discounts, freebies, and other small tokens of your gratitude for their loyalty won’t affect your bottom line too much, but their impact on your customer loyalty will be immense, and your profit will increase.

[3] Manage Your Cash Flow. A stunning 82% of small businesses go under because of poor cash flow management, and if you want your SMB to survive, you need to make sure to maintain positive cash flow. As it’s easier said than done, let’s discuss how to achieve this goal in practice.

  • Always have at least 3-6 months of working capital as that way you’ll be prepared for unexpected situations, demands, and emergencies, such as a client who fails to pay on time or an urgent expense that needs to be covered.
  • Don’t pay all your expenses on the same day. Instead of that, use software to set up automatic payments and schedule them for different dates. Paying a lump sum can be a huge blow for a small company, and that’s the reason for stretching your payments until the final day they’re due.
  • Reduce your costs. There are numerous ways to cut corners without affecting your business and its stability. So, instead of purchasing, for example, paid operating systems and business software, you can use reliable open-source alternatives. Also, you can find pretty decent and affordable refurbished hardware and equipment that you can use.

However, sometimes a cash injection can come in handy and help you stay afloat and grow, which is why it’s a good idea to be in the know regarding business startup grants and support.

[4] Hire Smart. All entrepreneurs and small business owners are under the impression that they need to singlehandedly complete every task. And that’s a big problem because they don’t distinguish between important and less important things. Prioritizing is a skill that you have to learn if you want your business to thrive. This means that you should focus only on high-value tasks and delegate or even outsource the low-value ones.

At first, you might ask your friends and family to step in occasionally and help you, but after a while, you’ll need to think about hiring employees. If you think it will be too much of a financial burden for you to hire someone full-time, you can always opt for freelancers and save on payroll taxes, healthcare, employer liability insurance, and other expenses that go with hiring full-time employers.

[5] Focus On What You Do Best. Although diversifying your offer is usually one of the main tips that you’ll get when running a business, you need to think this entire concept through. Namely, by doing this just for the sake of it and reducing the idea of diversification and change its meaning to different.

If you try to diversify your offering simply by adding different product and services, you’ll spread yourself too thin. Instead of that, it’s much better to focus on your core competencies, that is, on what you do best and polish, upgrade, and improve your product or service.

Research your main competitors and identify what features and functionalities you can add to your product or service in order to make it better than the ones that are currently offered on the market.

As you can see,rapid growth is a double-edged sword, and it’s essential to have a detailed scaling strategy which will allow you to eliminate its possible downsides, and these five tips can set you in the right direction.

Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.

Running a business today is like taking a continuous roller coaster ride. Many try to find quick ways of achieving success but fail miserably. The key to building a successful and sustainable business is implementing the right strategies and being persistent in pursuit of your goals.

I’ve put together five strategies that will help make your business thrive.

Empower the Leader in You

You are the ultimate leader in your business. Modern leadership means commanding less and collaborating more. Embrace inner leadership qualities such as being inclusive, consultative and holistic.

Read books that inspire you. Take time to consult with others and ask your mentors and professional advisors loads of questions. Listen to your clients and allow your team members to contribute. The best ideas come when you involve everyone.

Plan Strategies and Own Your Destiny

Have a vision for your business and plan how you will get there. One foot in front of the other will always get you to where you need to go. You are the author of your own story so you get to choose what to write. You have to step out of your comfort zone. There is no room for mediocrity here. So, think big and be passionate about your business growth and what you set out to do.

Whenever you hit a milestone, take the time to celebrate and then set a higher one. If you are not growing you are dying. There is no in between.

Strive to expand your network. The right connections will provide invaluable support, opportunities to boost your business growth, uplift you, inspire you and help you avoid pitfalls.

Unashamedly Vouch for Yourself

Increase your visibility, build your reputation and command your space in the spotlight. Choose your approach and do it unashamedly!

Don’t be shy. Know and own your value. If there are awards to win, go ahead and nominate yourself. It’s an excellent way to showcase your business and build your reputation.

The worst that can happen is someone says no. So what? You are no worse off than if you hadn’t tried in the first place. If you don’t try you will never know and living with ‘what if’ is no way to shine.

Create and Work With Exceptional Teams

Here’s a trick that will help you to build exceptional teams. Be ready to throw down your ego and let others shine. Great leaders no longer command and control. They empower their team members and do it confidently. As your team members grow in confidence, they’ll discover their areas of genius. Their confidence will grow and so will their loyalty.

Don’t forget to be an example to your team and emphasize your values and desired results.

Lastly, Take Care of Your Greatest Asset – You

David Allen once said, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

Set your fears and perfectionism aside. Find ways of delegating, especially to those who are better than you at particular tasks.

Once you free up your time, ensure that you build in some serious and non-negotiable self-care practices. You can’t run a business effectively if you are burnt out and stressed.

No one ever accomplished their business goals by themselves. Surround yourself with people who will help you and support you, both personally and professionally.

Your business will thrive. Your success is inevitable if you say it is.

If you are ready to own your role as CEO and to grow a profitable and sustainable business then I invite you to book a Business Freedom Call with me. I have built 3 profitable businesses without burnout and I am waiting to show you how to do the same.

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

How to Make a Business Plan That Will Help You Revive & Thrive in 2020

A solid business plan will carry you to new heights as the decade begins. Organization is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a tool that essentially encompasses the essence of your business. It’s equal parts strategy and description. It’s also a vital tool. The right plan can allow you to raise yourself to new heights within your field. One of the most important factors when creating a business plan is the time you put into it. Like any tool, it is only as good as the effort you put into using it.

Why do you need one?

Again, this is going to take a bit of personal determination. When you choose the audience that you’ll be sending your plan to, your intentions become a bit more clear. For example, if you’re sending it to potential investors, highlighting your financial strengths is a good idea. A general business plan will be much more broad in its themes.

How to make a business plan

Now that we have the basics covered, it’s time for the fun part. There are several different components to look for when you sit down to write out your plan. Think of:

  • Your audience
  • Your desired results and business goals
  • Your product
  • Your expertise

Organizing these sections separately will ease the process and make sure you’re creating an efficient body of work. Make sure to emphasize the research you do while curating it. This will determine what makes you stand out in your industry and what to highlight. Also, having a good company description (the “about me” on your website) will allow you to stand out from the very start. Finally, remaining adaptable will make room for new clients while increasing productivity so you don’t have to completely redo your business plan each time.

How to make a plan that will help your business thrive

Veronique James is a member and former president of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)’s Arizona chapter and CEO of The James Agency, an integrated agency specializing in consumer advertising, public relations and digital marketing that has been honored locally and nationally for its excellence in workplace culture. We asked Veronique how she created a nurturing and inspiring workplace. Here’s what she shared:

No matter the industry or profession, in today’s fast-paced business age, you undoubtedly spend the majority of your waking weekday hours at work. A lot of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our own families, and some weeks, the office feels more like our primary residence. As a mother and wife, I understand how difficult this reality can be. So, how do we make it more tolerable?

The benefits of a positive work environment are well-documented: Creativity, productivity and happiness go up while–like a counterweight–stress levels sink significantly. As a business owner and leader, that’s the kind of workplace I strive to create. Since I’m going to spend most of my Mondays through Fridays at work, I want it to be a place that inspires and nurtures my team–and myself!

Here are seven tips I’ve used to build a work environment where my team and I can thrive:

1. Begin with gratitude.

I strongly believe that it is a privilege, not a right, to work together. In our agency, we begin each week with a 15-minute all-hands team meeting where the first item on the agenda is team kudos. Giving people a vehicle to express appreciation for one another in a public forum raises the morale of the entire group, establishes a positive tone for the week and helps people feel acknowledged and valued. Starting with gratitude in any professional situation sets the intention of appreciation, which will permeate throughout the organization.

2. Create a safe environment.

There is nothing more damaging than toxicity in a professional environment. It stifles new ideas and inhibits collaboration. Creating a safe work environment means eliminating negative personalities and respecting every idea–whether it’s from an intern or a tenured senior team member. Lead with honesty, integrity and vulnerability to help your employees feel safe.

3. Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink.

This metaphor essentially means, “Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean.” There is nothing more frustrating than picking up a project where someone left off to find that files are missing, the work is a mess or someone saved a crucial document to their desktop moments before boarding a flight for a two-week vacation to Paris. Not leaving a mess is the functional interpretation, but the emotional definition is, “Respect everyone’s time.” If someone has to duplicate your efforts or take time away from their daily responsibilities to hunt for a missing document, you are basically saying you don’t care about their time. Time is our most valuable currency. When we aren’t respectful of our colleagues’ time, we are contributing to a negative workplace environment.

4. There are only opportunities in business, not problems.

When emotions are high and stress levels skyrocket, even the smallest workplace issues can seem like towering boulders. I tell my team that what we’re experiencing isn’t a problem; it’s an opportunity to reflect, analyze and evaluate so that next time–and there’s always a next time–we’ll do better. Also, I try to find irony or humor in every situation. Making your team smile by bringing perspective to the situation can quickly lighten a very emotionally charged room.

5. Consistency is key.

There are so many new trends in company culture: flex hours, team building, open workspaces, unlimited paid time off, bringing pets to work–and the list goes on. It’s easy to be tempted by what may seem like worthwhile workplace perks or try to replicate what competitors are offering. However, the same tactics don’t work for every company. Above all, my team has found that consistency is key for us, rather than being distracted by the latest professional culture craze. Although change can be healthy, disrupting a good thing can be detrimental and affect the cultural balance of your organization.

6. Encourage positive thinking.

Life is short. Why waste time on negative behaviors that don’t align with your business’ moral compass? I proactively encourage my team to think positively–All. The. Time. Even when things seem to be spinning out of control or we didn’t achieve the result we anticipated, positive thinking will eventually cultivate positive outcomes. Setting weekly, monthly and yearly positive intentions as a group will help to align your team and ensure that everyone is facing toward the same North Star.

7. Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent.

It’s easy to punt team one-on-ones for an urgent client call or meeting, but that connection with your team is crucial to maintaining a positive workplace culture. As the leader, you are the cheerleader of the company and the glue that binds your organization together. Without regular connection to your people, the mission, vision and energy of the business can quickly dilute and degrade your cultural fiber. It’s okay to reschedule; just don’t let important conversations get replaced by urgent demands and deadlines.

Dependability, structure, clarity and meaningful work are all ingredients that, when combined, can culminate in a solid foundation for a positive workplace. Add your own awesome sauce and voila . you have the magic recipe!

Read time: 3 minutes

While growing a business in an uncertain economic climate can present extra challenges, with the right strategy, entrepreneurs can thrive regardless of economic conditions.

Here are seven steps you can take to remain on the road to growth.

1. Diversify your customer base

If you are too dependent on one or two customers for the bulk of your sales, you are putting your business at risk if they run into financial difficulties.

A BDC study on diversification found that even a modest degree of diversification is associated with superior financial performance, regardless of the size of the business. The most diversified firms experience by far the fastest growth.

2. Don’t neglect your best customers

While it’s important to ensure you have the right mix of customers, it’s also wise to treat your best customers with extra attention. By nurturing relationships with key customers and building their loyalty, entrepreneurs can grow along with them.

Knowing your clients also means you need to be aware of what is happening in your market. Ask yourself: What are some key customer trends I should keep up with? And act on those answers to continue being a preferred supplier for your best clients.

3. Take a proactive approach to marketing

No product or service sells itself, especially not in a slow economy. And word-of-mouth marketing often isn’t sufficient to grow a business. You need to define and promote your unique selling points.

Consider creating a well-defined marketing strategy that defines your target customer, uses the right tactic to reach them and uses quantifiable metrics to measure your results.

4. Step back from day-to-day operations to focus on strategic goals

While it can be easy to get lost in daily details and neglect your strategic plan, the consequences can lead to failure. It’s essential to keep your mission and values in mind as day-to-day operating decisions are made. Know what your strengths are, what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. Also, make sure to keep your strategic plan documented, updated and shared.

5. Foster a positive attitude in your staff

Everyone within the organization needs to be trained and coached to understand the company’s strategy and proactively promote the business at every opportunity. When hiring, look for people with the right qualifications, but also the right attitude.

6. Consistently monitor your cash flow

Most entrepreneurs are very focused on managing the bottom line by monitoring sales, gross margin and expenses. But they often ignore cash flow management. You should make monthly financial projections and then monitor your progress through the year. It’s also important to balance short-term and long-term needs with short and long-term sources of funds.

If you foresee problems on the horizon, now is the time to talk to your bankers. Never surprise them with bad news.

7. Balance an entrepreneurial approach with sound analysis

Try to maintain the enthusiasm and spontaneity to react quickly, but do your homework and base your decisions on facts, not just feelings. It’s easy to make the mistake of neglecting or ignoring market feedback and analysis of the facts.

Don’t stick with what works until it stops working. Be aware of the warning signs. Evolve and grow by optimizing systems, adopting best practices and installing the latest technologies.

COVID-19 has changed our daily lives. During this time, business leaders need to continue moving their businesses forward with planning and execution of plans to manage employees, cash flow, online sales, and more. The biggest mistake to avoid right now is standing still. Businesses need resources to adapt and create a new plan.

In an effort to help businesses survive and thrive during COVID-19, here are six strategies that can strengthen your business. Mississippi State University Extension faculty members provided an overview of these strategies using a Zoom conference call recently. You can find a link to the presentations below. Also, each faculty member provided valuable resource links that can help your business through COVID-19. Feel free to reach out to any or all of these specialists for more assistance.

The Zoom Webinar

If you want to watch each presentation listed below, please visit http://extension.msstate.edu/six-strategies-strengthen-your-business-during-covid-19. What follows is a listing of each faculty member, the topic they presented, and resource links that can help your business during COVID-19.

  • Strategy 1: Create or Improve Your Business Website
  • Strategy 2: Boosting Your Social Media Engagement
  • Strategy 3: Turning Your Website into a Sales Machine
  • Strategy 4: Adapting Business Strategies during COVID-19
  • Strategy 5: How to Avoid Three Financial Mistakes during COVID-19
  • Strategy 6: Small Business Administration Resources

The COVID-19 Toolkit for Businesses

Strategy 1: Create or Improve Your Business Website

Extension Instructor
Center for Technology Outreach
Mississippi State University Extension Service
[email protected]
(228) 388-4710

Build a Website with Wix

Mobile Friendliness Test

Page Speed Test

Keyword Planner

Search Engine Optimization Guide

Strategy 2: Boosting Your Social Media Engagement

Extension Instructor
Center for Technology Outreach
Mississippi State University Extension Service
[email protected]

5 Ways to Grow Your Local Foods Business with Facebook

Helpful Social Media Toolkit from the North Carolina Dept of Health and Human Services

50 Must-Have Remote Working Tools and Apps

Assistance with Ads

Crafting Creative Content

MSU Extension COVID-19 Information

Strategy 3: Turning Your Website into a Sales Machine

Associate Professor and Extension Economist
Department of Agricultural Economics
Mississippi State University Extension Service
[email protected]

Schedule a Free Website Review

How to Build a Website That Sells

3 Website Mistakes Your Business Should Avoid (Complete video)

Free Tool to Pivot Your Marketing Message During Covid-19

Strategy 4: Adapting Business Strategies during COVID-19

Extension Economist
Center for Government and Community Development
Mississippi State University Extension Service
[email protected]

NAICS Code Look Up

Disaster Loan Applications

Paycheck Protection Program

Guide for Home-Based Business

Developing a Marketing Plan

Rural Tourism Toolbox

Strategy 5: How to Avoid Three Financial Mistakes during COVID-19

Director, MSU Extension Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy
State Family Financial Management Specialist
Assistant Extension Professor and Extension Economist
Department of Agricultural Economics
Mississippi State University Extension Service
[email protected]

Managing Personal Finances during COVID-19

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Protect Yourself Financially from Coronavirus

Learn about Investing

Fee-Only Financial Advisors

National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)

Strategy 6: Small Business Administration Resources for COVID-19

Extension Associate III
Extension Center for Government and Community Development
Mississippi State University Extension Service
[email protected]

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application

Small Business Administration e-Newsletter Sign-up

U.S. Department of the Treasury Assistance for Small Businesses

Conclusion

COVID-19 will end at some point. The economy will recover at some point, too. In the meantime, businesses that continue moving forward will be the ones that prosper during and after COVID-19. Remember this: After the 2008 recession, many successful companies emerged. Here is a short list of some successful companies that launched after the 2008 recession (Conklin, 2020):

  • WhatsApp
  • Venmo
  • Groupon
  • Instagram
  • Uber
  • Pinterest
  • Slack

Keep your business moving forward by adapting to the changing circumstances of COVID-19. Please contact the Extension faculty members listed here to help your business continue to move forward during this crisis.

References

Conklin, A. (2020, March 29). 10 Successful Startups Founded During 2008 Great Recession. Available at: https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/startups-great-recession.

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By James Barnes, PhD, Associate Extension Professor, Agricultural Economics; Hamp Beatty, Extension Associate III, Extension Center for Government and Community Development; Rachael Carter, PhD, Extension Instructor, Extension Center for Government and Community Development; Andy Collins, Extension Instructor, Extension Center for Technology Outreach; Lauren-Colby Nickels, Extension Instructor, Extension Center for Technology Outreach; and Becky Smith, PhD, Assistant Extension Professor, Agricultural Economics.

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