14 Business Strategies For Growth Every Entrepreneur must know when starting a business
Introduction to business strategy
You need all the help you can get when you start a business in today’s uncertain and volatile economy and don’t let me put you off, this is a great time to get out there and beat your business drum, but take advantage of the help and services that are on offer in the world of business today.
I want to get straight into this and here are fourteen fast and furious business strategies for growth you must know when you are starting a business and I really could write an entire book on each of the points and also on a lot more.
I want you to capture the spirit of each business strategy below and do deeper research — you have to get as much information as possible, get out there and apply the business strategies and do it, then measure your results, adjust and then keep doing!
Best business strategies for growth
1. Evaluate yourself
You are about to enter into a massive commitment and one that will hopefully set you on a path to resounding success and far too many people take this too lightly. You are going into business and that in itself, will separate you from many people — make sure you are ready for the challenge.
Here are some points to consider and I will add that they are just some…
- How motivated are you? You need a huge degree of motivation and the ability to keep motivated even in rough times.
- Are you prepared to work long hours? Please don’t fall for the “build a business around your life” idea. You can certainly run your life around a business that you have built when it is successful, but starting one is a totally different matter.
- Can you take criticism? You need skin that is thicker than a rhino and you must be able to stay focused on your business and not the criticism that may occur.
- Have you got the support of people around you, such as your family and friends? It’s a lonely road out there and you must have people who you can talk to for support
- can you handle the pressure? Most entrepreneurs are tested severely in their careers and even go bust before success. I was one of those, but I had the ability to take the punishment and bounce back — put yourself in that position and honestly ask yourself the same question.
These are just a few pointers for you to consider, but I’m sure you get my drift. I don’t want to put you off starting your company, but you must be a realist and know that so many businesses fail in their first year and many don’t get past 5 years, so be honest with yourself.
2. Develop the entrepreneurial mindset
I always say that success is eighty percent in the mind and twenty percent in the execution — but you must put one-hundred percent into that execution.
I talk about my own journey here in my article “How to become an entrepreneur — the entrepreneurial journey” and it may give you some inspiration.
The entrepreneurial mindset is the mindset of a total commitment to succeed and a true entrepreneur would rather sleep on someone’s couch while conjuring up their next idea, rather than take a job. It sounds extreme, but it’s true.
You have to join the mindset of the elite if you are going to succeed and that means elite leaders, businessmen, athletes, soldiers or whatever. Study these people and try to find out what makes them tick and ask yourself if you can relate to them in any way.
Don’t go out and try to “be” your idols, just make sure you take on the qualities that you love about them and you will see how it works perfectly.
I will give you an example relating to my two sons who are both determined to be professional soccer players and I will support their dreams totally. One has modelled himself on the great Ronaldinho and the other Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
My daughter has set her sights on being a classical singer and her role model is Maria Callas.
I often remind them when they are playing and practicing who their idols are if I think they are not performing to the best standard they can and it is amazing to then suddenly see the difference.
Self-belief is a huge part of being an entrepreneur and for me, it was something I had to work on from an early age, but also something that grew when I experienced success as well as failure.
Now an entrepreneur and a businessman are different and should not be confused with each other, at least in my opinion and you can read more about what I have to say in this article, “How to become a businessman: tips to succeed in business.”
3. Make sure you have a passion for your business
If you have no passion, then your chances of success are reduced in anything that you do, so when you commit to starting a business, then you might as well choose something that you are passionate about.
I used to train my own salespeople personally in my startup technology staffing business and one of the requirements to be selected for training was that you had none or very minimal staffing industry experience, simply because I didn’t want to inherit and baggage from the other philosophies of the other companies — I had devised my own “secret sauce” for success!
One of the tests I would give each interviewee was based on asking them to firstly, tell me what their passions are and then to give me a one-minute overview of that passion. If they came through the exercise demonstrating a genuine passion that I could feel, then teaching them my industry was a breeze by comparison.
You have simply got to have passion for what you do and I will give you another example about me and that was when I was first interviewed about in the press. Before the interview, I was chatting with the journalist and was asked the question about when I planned to retire. I answered that I had already retired as what I do is far from “work.”
Get the same feeling and your success will skyrocket — your employees, customers, friends, family, and everyone should be infected with your passion and enthusiasm!
4. “Pressure test” your idea
You need to have the mindset that you are pressure testing your idea with the aim of putting yourself out of business before you start. This may seem extreme, but it will save you a fortune in the long run.
It is a very good strategy for each entrepreneur to look at things from all angles and one of those is to find a way to simply put yourself out of business. Let’s say you have a thriving business and things are really looking good — take a view that someone who is hungry, extremely success-driven and just as passionate about business as you are and who set’s up in competition just over the street from you or directly in your online space.
How would they go about taking your market share and putting you out of business? This forces you to become creative and to also keep your self hungry.
Remember — there is always someone who wants to eat your lunch. And your breakfast, dinner, and snacks as well!
I would like you to be your ultimate critic and to never believe your own hype — this is because I have made the mistake and it cost me dearly in both time and money.
Never “sell to yourself” and remember that the market is the market and it will take you where it wants to take you. Do not be your own “fan” or greatest customer, you are selling to your target audience and it is imperative to remember that at all times.
I used to make the mistake of writing marketing material that I liked and not thinking of the customer — big mistake!
Don’t make the same one!
5. Research your market
You will get nowhere fast if you do not dedicate yourself to researching your idea thoroughly — think like a hedge fund manager and be proactive.
I say this all of the time and it amazes me how little many entrepreneurs I meet know about global economic conditions, their specific market and the sector they are operating in.
Everything starts with the money, so think like an investor and more specifically, a hedge fund.
When you learn to think in “money terms” you learn where the money is going and you can easily find out about your sector, how much it is worth and the opportunities that exist within it…but you need to also develop a sense of predictability and forecasting.
Imagine if you can know what your client’s needs would be and before they do?
It is an extremely powerful tool.
Use research to gain information and then turn that information into intelligence which is the key to positioning and profitability.
Just like a hedge fund — they can profit in all market conditions and are constantly ahead of the game (the best ones anyway). I once talked to a very successful hedge fund manager who simply told me that he was always taking positions in the market that were 6 months ahead of today…that was just one person and one strategy and I am certain there are many more.
Get ahead of the game, your clients and more importantly, your competition.
6. Get the right legal structure for your business
There is not much to say with this point other than to get proper legal and financial advice and that means talking to a good lawyer and a good accountant.
I cannot give specific legal or financial advice simply because I am not a qualified accountant or lawyer, although, over the years, I certainly feel like one because of the amount of time and money I have spent to be in their company.
As an entrepreneur, I think differently and that leads me to question everything and my advice to you would always be to amass as much knowledge as possible concerning legal and financial matters…but don’t try to be or compete with either. Just get a basic knowledge so you can converse with them and keep your bills in check!
7. Manage the risk
There are two main components of risk for entrepreneurs — their business risks and personal ones.
This is why obtaining the correct legal entity is essential for an entrepreneur and with regard to personal risk, then you need to simply weigh up how much you can afford to lose.
I think about going into a casino and I only do this when I am on vacation for a little fun, but I always have a set amount of money to “play with” and once that is gone, I am out.
Also, if I win, I walk away, simply because I know the odds are stacked against me.
In business, it is important to make sure you manage risk — both personal and to the business. Your research should be constant and that will in itself identify potential threats, as well as opportunities, so keep up to date with it.
With regard to personal risk, then my advice is to never give personal guarantees in business unless it is absolutely necessary and if you have to, give only limited ones where you can be certain of the total amount you stand to lose. The link covers the UK and for the USA, it is important to understand the State laws as they vary from state to state.
Think about what will happen to you if you fail? Again, be a realist here and run a mile from those who tell you just to keep a “positive attitude” no matter what. Life is about balance, nature is about balance and so is a business. you must be able to look at both sides of the positive/negative coin and be real. There is no harm in looking at the positive side as long as you understand the negative.
A battery would not work if you had two positive or negative points!
8. Set your budget
How much are you going to invest and where is the money coming from. I once had a startup coaching session with someone who was going to commit his life savings to his business. I could see that he didn’t really have the mindset of the passion for it and after a couple of hours, he decided that he was better off staying in his job and he is still happy there today.
Business is not for everyone and please make sure that you understand the $$$.
You have to be disciplined in business when it comes down to money and if you allocate a budget for something and let’s say for a new technology platform, then ask yourself if it is really necessary and the way to answer the question is to ask yourself how your customers will benefit from it.
If you cannot get a “yes” to that question, then don’t do it.
9. Build your personal brand
In today’s economy building your personal brand is effectively your old C.V./Resume, so build one and make it independent of your business — you will always be the same person, but your business may change.
My three children all have their own name Internet domains and I am educating them as to how to build their own personal brand.
I go into much more detail in another article — “Build your own personal brand” and you should take a look
As a recruiter, I can tell you that the C.V./Resume is dead.
Although you need to provide a copy for human resources if you are interviewing for a new job, the information on that document is relatively worthless and you can get a much better idea of the person by looking at their Social Media profiles, fr example.
There is a great saying in the recruiting industry and it is:
“You hire people for what they know and you fire them for who they are.”
so it is vital that you show “who you are” by building your personal brand.
10. Get a business coach and mentor
You need all the help you can get in today’s uncertain and volatile economy and a coach and mentor to me are essential.
They will pay for themselves several times over if you have the right one and also may save you a fortune along the way.
Take a look at my article “Business coaching for entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses” and get the idea!
Starting a business is daunting enough and if you are going to do it alone, then it can be a very lonely road. In my early days, I was crying out for help and I would literally talk to anyone who would help me.
I had the good fortune of a friend who would painstakingly help me write proposals and educate me technology-wise as I had started a technology staffing business, but I could only take the time he could give as he was busy and had a young family.
A few years later in my business, I invested in a mentor that would give me much more hands-on support and advice when I needed it and it was the accessibility that made the difference — we would be talking constantly and that was because I wanted to drive my business forward at warp speed.
If you are really serious about starting and growing your business, get a mentor from the start.
11. Learn how to sell effectively
Nothing happens without a sale — it is the first part of generating the cash that will power your business and if you cannot sell, then you will find entrepreneurial life almost impossible.
If I had my way everyone would be learning to sell and starting at school age as it is one of the most important “life skills.” think about it — selling yourself to get on that University course, landing your first job and literally a skill you need for the rest of your life.
We are actually all born to sell — mankind would have not survived without it because it was natural for us to barter and exchange services and goods.
Now think of children and how they are fearless, have imagination, are creative and will always get the ice-cream cone right before dinner, using any and every tactic possible!
Wouldn’t those raw qualities be the same ones that you would want from your sales team?
I’ve gone into more detail here in this article “How to become a good salesperson.”
I would say that selling is the most essential skill for entrepreneurs and your strategy should be to learn as much about selling as humanly possible as you can turn the direction of a company by increasing sales rapidly.
12. Understand everything digital
By 2030 it is estimated that ninety percent of the population will be online, so if you are not then what are you waiting for. Learn about everything digital and talk to my friend Fernando Raymond if you want to understand what digital strategy is all about, and everything else that goes along with it.
The Internet era has truly revolutionized the way we live and work — we have only scratched the surface so far, so don’t ever think you have “missed the boat” and if you are a veteran like me, don’t also believe it’s too late to learn.
You also need to think about Artificial Intelligence and Automation as these are life and game-changers too. Embrace and don’t fear technology — use it to augment what you are doing and remember, you will never replace the “human touch,” that is until humans are replaced by machines!!!
I am not going to get you worried about being taken over by machines just yet because it is a long way away, but I will stress, extremely possible. What I would like you to do is to focus initially on your own website and make sure it is “fit for purpose.”
Your website should be your hardest-working salesperson and it should generate income for you and not just be a shop window.
So many people spend time and money building great looking sites, but they just lay there dormant and do nothing to contribute to the top-line revenue.
If you are having a website built, then make sure that you keep the design costs down to a minimum and allocate more money into marketing — also find a full-service provider who can handle it all — design, marketing, and most importantly strategy.
Or better still, get in touch with Fernando and he will teach you how to do it yourself if you don’t want to hire someone — this is also a good business strategy to adopt when you manage your marketing agency as at least, you will know what you are doing and be better informed to evaluate them.
13. Learn the “5 M’s”
These are the 5 points I cover when evaluating any business and they form the building blocks of the business plan, which of course you have to produce whether to raise finance or simply to keep you on track.
Market — what is the market you are going to operate in and who are the customers you are going to serve?
Message — what message are you going to deliver to your target customers and what problems are you going to serve?
Model — what does the business model look like and how are you going to operate it?
Monetize — how will you generate cash, what is your pricing structure and how will you stay competitive?
Measure — what systems and processes are you going to put in place to measure your performance and keep a handle on risk?
Get these points answered and you will find the final stage much easier which is to produce the formal business plan.
14. Write a formal business plan
I have left this to the end simply because if you have gotten through the other points, you will be ready to write it and have a much greater chance of writing a good one.
I see so many people who start their entrepreneurial journey by writing an elaborate business plan that has obviously had input from professionals and unfortunately, as it is not all their own work, I cannot feel their passion and all of the other qualities I am looking for.
As this is a fast and furious article I am not going to cover business planning in any great detail here, so I will hand you over to the Welsh government, as I am a volunteer mentor for Business Wales and let them guide you through their process so you can get the idea.
Go here for a direct link to the business planning section.
So there you have it — fourteen fast and furious business strategies for growth to help you get started in your business and that will dramatically help your success.
I offer one-to-one business and career coaching that gives you direct access to me 24/7 so if you want to expand on this or any other business or career coaching then get in touch with me and I will be happy to explain how I can help in a no-obligation free call!