3 Rules to Bulletproof Business Growth
If your business is growing slowly, sometimes it feels hard to keep the momentum going, right? Do you ever have a day where you wonder if going the turtles pace is worth it?
In my career, I have been part of 3 full-on recessions, 4 political elections and economic downturns. I have also been through spikes, upturns and upswings.
The businesses that are still in business are bulletproof. They are recession proof. They are built on a solid brand and customer service foundation. This does not mean it’s challenging. This means the challenges are embraced and part of the fun!
If you follow just these three rules of slow but steady growth, it will pay off… right now and eventually!
Rule 1: Make Sure You Are Actually Growing
I believe a business with good credibility and visibility can almost come to a stop for short periods of time (so you can take a holiday or a mental break or adjust to back-to-school or deal with ‘real life dramas’) but at many points throughout a year, you must create spikes in growth when opportunity allows.
Growth spikes can be created by:
- growing your “list” – building your “numbers” of quality followers, friends, newsletter subscribers, fans, potential customers (and by quality I mean legitimately interested future customers or champions, not numbers just for the sake of growing numbers)
- increasing your visibility through anything that shouts every once in awhile “hey, I’m still here!” – try blogging; submitting articles to online publications; attending networking events; phoning your clients; emailing a regular newsletter; sharing good information through your business-related social media of choice; commenting regularly in Facebook groups or social media chats that have similar audience to you; share tweets and links of your mentors, clients or colleagues you admire; forward emails and share invites to subscriptions to your clients if you think they’d be of value.
- increasing your client base – my number one marketing lesson is to build your business from within existing networks, so while continually growing your visibility and building a list is essential to long-term growth, short-term growth can be measured by having clients and making money. Remember to tap into your existing networks first – inviting those who already know you to discover a new product or service gains faster rewards. Slow growth businesses still need to be “real” businesses so don’t forget to keep growing your monetary business, not just your visibility business at least one client at a time.
- increasing your client offerings – the easiest and most rewarding work is work provided to clients or customers you already serve and who already trust you. I guarantee, if you dig deep into your capabilities and truly understand their needs, there is so much more work you can offer to your existing paying fans… and they are quicker to say yes than future fans. Start here. Always start here.
Rule 2: Have a Plan, Work the Plan
You know you simply are not a business unless you have a plan. The very simplest plan you can make, if you don’t have a proper one, is to grab 4 sticky notes and write down the following:
- Sticky note 1: immediate goals – What do I want, and can I achieve, right now? List at least 1 thing from Rule 1 above that you can do to achieve it (them).
- Sticky note 2: 3 month goals – What is the simplest, must most meaningful thing I need to achieve within the next 3 months to feel I have grown my business? List the same thing you wrote on sticky note 1 (you are going to repeat that) and add something else you can do weekly or monthly to your list of things you can do.
- Sticky note 3: 1 year goals – Where do you reasonably envision your business to be in 1 year? Is the reason you are growing slow right now going to change so you can grow faster? Is the reason you are growing slow going to have more speedbumps and slow you more? Be honest about what the year ahead may look like, and then look at the items you listed as reasonable on sticky note 1 and 2 and write them down as things you are going to repeat 10x in the next year on any timeline you can reasonably accomplish.
- Sticky note 4: 3 year vision – What do you want the end of the year 3 years from now to look like? And what personally changes for you to allow you to grow faster? Sometime in any given 3 year period, your personal situation shifts… plan way ahead for this and see it as your ultimate opportunity to do many things right (slowly) now so you can achieve a great deal (faster) when that window of opportunity opens up. (See my story below)
Ideally your plan is NOT on sticky notes. I am a huge fan of marketing maps. Linear thinkers might prefer a 3-4 page planning document or a spreadsheet. But in whatever form works for you, create the plan above with the same 4 point timeline.
Rule 3: Stick To Your Values
Are you growing slow for a reason? If yes, then likely it’s because you are sticking to your values! And I applaud you for that. I have to “check in” with myself when I reach a point of frustration over my own slow business growth (because it is for the very best reasons):
Kim’s Story of Purposeful Slow Growth: If you know me, you know this already. I have 3 young girls – and I adore them completely! I wasn’t born to be a mom – or so I thought. I was career-driven and “on the rise” in my corporate marketing world. But then things changed… becoming a mom became my greatest blessing as a human and greatest opportunity as a motivated self-starter. Becoming a mom allowed me to become an entrepreneur. And being an entrepreneur has allowed me to be a full time mom. Before they were in school full time, I stayed as present as I could with them, recognizing my time where they let me kiss their boo-boos and hold their hands was fleeting. I used daycare and preschool and pickup times in parking lots as my working hours to launch my business and grow slow. My reason for slow business growth is purposeful. My reason for slow business growth is in the form of 3 curly-haired, spicy and sporty girls that keep me busy. My reason for slow business growth is also because I know slow and steady growth builds an unshakable foundation. Slow growth, not losing passion, making it all work and make sense is part of plan. It’s on a sticky note – so it is legit!
So what’s your story? I know many need to take on other jobs to pay the bills until your passionate business idea takes off. I know some of you have a slow growth business for reasons beyond money (family, volunteering, illness, etc). Don’t use your values as excuses… if you WANTED to grow faster, you would… but your values – what feels necessary and right – is simply a ‘slow growth model). And this is your reality and it’s just fine… as long as you are actually growing intentionally along the way.
If are sure of this… that you are proud to still be here… you might like to brag about it and celebrate. My business conspirator Nikki over at Fetching Finn created free Rebel Recession and Years in Business badges to help you show it off!
Go Team Bulletproof!