Business growth strategies aren’t something most of us focus on early in creating our businesses. We’re busy creating our products and services and making sure our community is thriving as well as just trying to get through another day of challenges.
But, consider this, if Oprah called would you be ready for sudden growth? We’ve all heard about the “Oprah effect” and how it’s changed businesses overnight from small operations to ordering systems crashing all because Oprah mentioned the name of the product in her magazine or during a program.
One word from Oprah would cause such an upheaval that her producers actually started working with the business owners long before the show just to make sure they would be ready.
Or take Greenberg Smoked Turkey story, when – despite selling about 150,000 birds a year, the company had no website and didn’t accept credit cards.
What’s more, the show was 12 days away and the turkeys took four days to smoke. Greenberg first alerted existing customers that a surge in demand was coming, thanks to vaguely described media attention, and that they’d be wise to order now.
Let’s face it, we’re all looking for that big turning point in our businesses, but what are you doing to be prepared?
4 Business Growth Strategies
As a solopreneur, most of the knowledge about our business and how it runs exists either in our heads, on our laptops or scribbled in notebooks somewhere. Flying loose when you first start isn’t such a bad thing, but eventually you have to come to grips with the reality that you need to document procedures.
To grow your business you’ll have to get help sooner or later, and that means training them. Creating procedure documents and checklists take time. It’s easier to get started now than to have to figure out how to do a vulcan mind meld in the middle of crazy times.
But growing your business isn’t the only reason to document your procedures as Mark Moore talks about here.
“If someone else is going to need to take over your business for a period of time, it is helpful to have a checklist or operations manual so they know what needs to be done and things can be handled the same as if you were doing it yourself.”
Know where to get help before you need it
Whether it’s a person who can manage your website for you, take over your social media or maybe just perform simple clerical duties to free up your time you need to know where you’ll find these resources when you need them. If you’re going to grow you’re going to need more resources.
One way to do this is to make yourself a list of everything that needs to get done on a regular basis. Then go through the list and mark which activities can be delegated to someone else.
Once you have this list, it’s time to start doing a little homework.
Check out companies that offer the services. What are their costs and what do you need to do to start with them and is there a lead time.
Talk to other solopreneurs and find out who they recommend. Referrals from people you know and trust can save you time, energy and headaches.
Put a small project together and pay for someone to do it. I’ve done this a number of times at Elance and ODesk. I got some work I needed done and I now have a short list of contractors, in different areas of my business, that I can use when I need them.
You might not need any of this help right now, but I know from personal experience, having the information at my fingertips when I’m talking to a client with a larger than usual project, helps me think quickly on my feet. Knowing just how much I need to pay a web developer for a 5 page website can mean the difference between being confident in front of a client and looking like a newbie just off the street.
Make friends with your local banker.
It just may be that you need some financial help when a great opportunity comes your way. Make sure your financials are in good order and your local banker knows you. Bankers can make things work a little faster and smoother for you when you have a working relationship with them.
The next time you need to make a deposit, park the car and walk in instead of using the drive up window. While you’re making that deposit, say hi and introduce yourself.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
“Go big or go home”, doesn’t necessarily mean for you to take on more than you can handle. Understanding your capacity is key to determining exactly how much you can bite off.
Be honest with yourself. It’s easy to say, I’ll just work a few more hours, but when that turns into weeks and maybe even months, it can hurt you and your business. Try to do everything yourself and you’ll eventually start to wear down and so will the quality of what you put out.
Besides, scarcity is not always a bad thing. People recognize that it means your business is thriving.
Greenberg Smoked Turkey Follow Up
I recently followed up with Greenberg Smoked Turkey to see how they were doing.
Some companies touched by Oprah got an instant lift that soon fizzled; others continue to enjoy the Oprah Effect to this day. For Greenberg, a link on Oprah.com prolonged the demand, generating 35,000 orders. The company now sells about 200,000 birds a year.
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you have systems in place? If you had a sudden uptick in success, could you handle it? Are you ready for Oprah’s call?