When you started your business, you probably figured you were good at the thing that you wanted to sell, but you had no idea how much other ‘stuff’ was involved. As you get your business going, all the moving parts can quickly overwhelm you until you feel like you feel like you are constantly putting out fires and you can feel overwhelmed and confused by all that needs to get done.
Donald Miller's How to Grow Your Small Business (affiliate link) helps cut through the confusion! It simplifies and clarifies what's important to focus on as a business owner so you can feel more confident and in control. Miller breaks down all the tasks and aspects of business ownership into easy-to-follow steps so you can easily navigate the jungle of running a business.
This program provides simple and actionable steps to improve your entire business. It is suitable for individuals who are new to business and have no prior knowledge, as well as those who are familiar with the concepts because of the straightforward way it brings everything together. The program's magic lies in organizing and simplifying complex information.
The basic premise is that your business is like an airplane; every part must work together. The plane, or business, can get bigger, but it all has to grow together.
Clear Vision and Leadership are Key: Just like a pilot needs a clear vision and control of the cockpit, business owners must develop a focused vision and guiding principles to steer their company toward success.
Marketing and Sales: The Engines of Growth: Effective marketing and sales strategies are akin to the engines of an airplane, propelling your business forward. Understanding your customers' needs and crafting compelling pitches are essential for sustained growth.
Financial Management is Vital: Just as fuel is crucial for an airplane's journey, maintaining healthy cash flow and implementing sound financial practices are imperative for the longevity and stability of your business.
How to grow your small business like flying an airplane
Your vision and leadership - the cockpit
In this step, you want to develop a clear vision of where you want your business to go and focus everything around that vision. This is where I start with my own clients. Only by getting clear with what is most important can we determine what we should and should not be doing every day. Is that product a waste of time and resources?
You can create a one-pager with what is most important for your company and keep coming back to it.
These Guiding Principles then provide clarity that will drive growth in your business. Every day we are distracted by what we ‘should’ or ‘need’ to do, but having a focused objective helps us to go from wasting time putting out fires to investing time and resources into what will drive the difference for our business.
Marketing= the right engine
Miller explains that your marketing efforts make up one of the engines that propel your business forward. Using brain science, we want to learn to talk about our products from our clients’ perspective. Miller has created another framework (and book) called StoryBrand, which asks seven questions to think about how you relate your product to your customers.
As you get clear on who your customer is, their pain points, and what they desire, you will be able to speak their language and draw them to you. This is the language you will use on your web page, social media posts and every conversation you have about what you do.
Sales= the left engine
Without sales, our business cannot fly.
In addition to learning to speak to our customers as outlined above, we have to learn to craft a sales pitch with a clear and simple call to action. There are often inferior products that get the sale simply because they have learned how to pitch the product by speaking to the customers’ problems and making a clear call to action.
Product = the wings
According to Miller, we should also regularly review our product offerings to make sure we are investing our time and money in the directions with the highest returns.
a. Streamline your products
Determine which of your products are most profitable and streamline your offering to sell more of those and eliminate others with lower returns on investments. Offering fewer products well is more effective since it costs you less to develop similar products.
b. Create products that bring value
Your products should be in demand and profitable. According to Miller, customers are looking to add value in specific areas (see chart). Harvard also published a pyramid of ways we can provide value to customers. In general, the most successful products are the ones that offer the most value to customers.
c. Conduct a product brief
Before launching a new product, consider whether it will be worth it for you. You can waste valuable time and resources by jumping too quickly into new products. By slowing down to determine whether a new product makes sense, you will take a more calculated risk with a higher likelihood of success. (online at smallbusinessflightplan.com for a digital, fillable version)
Overhead and Operations = the body of your airplane
Since labor is your most expensive cost, Miller suggests implementing 5 meetings to make sure your people are aligned and using their time to work toward the goals set in Step 1. Depending on the size of your organization, you may or may not have all these meetings. There are other, less frequent meetings and guidelines and templates for each meeting. The cadence of these meetings helps promote positive working relationships and prevent problems. For a solopreneur, they are a reminder of what regular reflections we should be having. Additionally, every business should legally be tracking meetings like the all-staff, even if they are solopreneurs, so by having this routine established, you will start recording what you need.
Cash Flow - Fuel tanks
To run a successful business, we need to understand how money runs in and out of our business. Most small businesses fail because of issues of cash flow, so the earlier we set up systems to maintain cash flow, the more solid position we will be in. Miller suggests setting up 5 separate bank accounts to control your cash flow and ensure you have reserves for a rainy day (and to pay taxes!).
Get your business on track!!
I think every small business owner can use the tools in this book. If you are a mom starting to sell baked goods out of your home or running a multi-million-dollar company with multiple employees, this book will help set your business up for success in simple steps.
Even better than the book, sign up for their online course so you can work through these principles. However, if you aren’t sure about the $274 investment, start with the book to get a taste of what to do.
These are the same steps and principles I use to coach clients toward growing more solid businesses.
If you want help putting these steps into practice, you can hire a coach like me to help guide and support you through each step.
Call now for a free strategy session to discuss what the next steps are for your business.