Departments SME

How to plan for profitable business growth

Part 1: An overview

In his new four-part series, business advisor Phil Symchych is going to look at how you as a business owner can plan for profitable growth.

Growing up in Dauphin, my mom had one rule for my brother, Mark, and me: “Get outside!” It didn’t matter the weather or the temperature, out we went. We played street hockey year-round. The games were always to ten. 

“How does this relate to business?” you ask.

We always kept score.

Do your employees know the score in your business?

Do they know your vision for the future, your company’s mission or purpose, your quarterly goals, and the short-term priorities that will move them towards your goals?

If you want to engage your employees more, share the score, share the plans, and ask for their ideas on how to make the plans better. Everyone wants to play for a winning team. If you don’t share the real score, the employees will make up their own, and it won’t be accurate. They won’t tell you want they’re thinking because you’re the boss. It’s your job to tell them the real score and keep them focused on the results they can control.

In this article, I will share the seven steps to achieve profitable business growth. 

The seven steps to profitable business growth

This process works best when used quarterly and continually. If you want to grow your business, the best way is to think and act like a much larger business. Public companies publish their quarterly results publicly. 

After you’ve clarified your vision, mission, and values, which should be done every few years, we need to refine your strategy. Your strategy is what you do to help your customers increase their success. 

My definition of strategy: the intentional focus and alignment of your resources (knowledge, expertise, processes, and people) to provide optimal value for your ideal customers. 

After strategy comes messaging you put into the market to attract your ideal customers. Most strategic planning processes exclude this critical step. Your messaging needs to focus on your ideal customers, their challenges or goals, and the results you create for them. 

For example, my messaging is: “I help growth-oriented B2B service and industrial companies to increase annual revenue by ten million dollars and triple profits.” 

The purpose of your messaging is to attract your ideal customer and start a conversation. What is your messaging?

The next step is to establish your goals and metrics so you can measure progress. Goals, to be effective, should be more specific than a simple overall revenue goal. A better goal is revenue and gross margin for a specific product or service line. That way, people know what to focus on.

Next, develop plans to achieve your goals. Goals without plans aren’t goals, they’re dreams. The plans can initially be high level quarterly plans. Management makes more detailed monthly and weekly plans to achieve the goals. It’s important to know who does what on a weekly basis. 

With plans in place, it’s time to execute the plans. The challenge, as you know, is operational gravity, where employees are helping customers, dealing with emails, and doing daily tasks. Your role is to add strategic priorities and related weekly actions into your employees’ calendars and tasks.

All of this is great, in theory. How does it work in practice?

It works by holding people accountable on a weekly basis to make forward progress on your strategic priorities. That’s why metrics are so important. If you hold your people accountable for weekly progress, you will see better monthly and quarterly results. If you only hold people accountable on a quarterly basis, there is too much time and space to hide, make excuses, and not focus on results.

Reviewing your progress provides a significant opportunity to learn what is and isn’t working in your business. That’s why smaller, more frequent weekly reviews will accelerate your learning. 

This learning will help you to update your strategy, revise goals and metrics, and adjust plans for future quarters and weeks. A rolling five-quarter plan, with more detail in the next two quarters and less detail in the rest, will give you optimal control to grow your business.

If the score was lopsided when we played street hockey, we changed up the teams. When you know the score every week in your business, you will also be able to change your plans to achieve better results.

Full speed ahead!

Topics

Business Brief

Read the week's business highlights, news, analysis and more free every Friday.