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Moving Forward…Not Backwards!

Starting and operating a small business or SME is both exciting and overwhelming. The first steps require risk, passion, and commitment to transform a vision into a reality. Once a business is established and out of the starting blocks, the business must prepare for growth and ultimately success by focusing on basic principles that are important for any business.

Consider these principles that will help lead a business in the right direction:

Plan – It is no more than wishful thinking that growth in a business will happen overnight. Owners must prepare for growth by planning. Many business owners have one thought in mind...sell more and get larger! However, growth requires careful consideration in many different areas of a business such as operations, staffing, facilities, finance, and marketing. Planning is about assessing how future changes will interact with each other and how revenues, costs, and profits are affected both positively or negatively. Many small businesses & SME owners think planning is only for large businesses, but what they don't realize is that those businesses became large through planning.

People – There is no getting around the fact that people are the greatest assets of any business. Without dedicated employees a business cannot operate efficiently, market, sell, and service customers. However, most employees don’t become star employees overnight. They must be groomed for growth through mentoring and training. As a business expands, growth is based on many factors: products or services, marketing, competition, capitalizing on opportunities, improving weaknesses, and effectively utilizing internal resources. Qualified employees along with other strengths of a business build the foundation necessary for sustainable future growth.

Prioritize - Successful growth requires prioritizing tasks, strategies, and goals. Owners should review business approaches that are working, areas where goals aren’t being met, and tasks needing change that will improve operations and help meet objectives. Today's decisions affect tomorrow's growth. Therefore, decisions that add little value should be given a lower priority compared to decisions that improve operational efficiency and maximize profit, for this is what leads to increased business value. Prioritizing allows a business owner to focus on those items that have the greatest impact of improving the likelihood of successful growth.

Processes and Procedures - All businesses operate with a multitude of various processes and procedures (regardless of how simple some might be). Successful business growth focuses on continuously improving the processes and procedures involved in creating and delivering a business' products and services. In a highly competitive marketplace, businesses must adapt, evolve, and improve what it does in addition to developing new processes and procedures to stay current with updated offerings and competition. It’s a must for small business owners to review their entire operation and streamline processes and procedures, wherever possible, to reduce inefficiencies and costs. Maximizing efficient processes and procedures and eliminating costly or inefficient ones, achieves a critical element necessary for successful growth.

Pace - A small business should pace its growth based on accomplishment of various predetermined milestones centered on the company's objectives and goals by slowly increasing and improving all functional areas necessary to handle the planned growth. The business should progress to comfortable and realistic levels based on internal resources and strengths to achieve its goals. As growth is successfully implemented at one level, then further growth can be added incrementally.

In order to move forward and not backwards, consider implementing these five growth principles in a consistent manner, which will allow the success of your small business or SME to be achieved in a steady, orderly manner.

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