How can you grow your business, and work with intention, to produce innovative products or services?
Honesty and bravery play a big part. Honesty in sharing the fears, dreams, and frustrations of going into or expanding your business. And bravery in expansion and growth that may make you feel out of your depth or unsure you’re making the right decisions.
One mental trick I like to employ is remembering the times you felt most confident, most successful and most happy whether at work, in your business or personally. It’s a gentle way of training your brain to experience pleasure in a tight spot. Turning towards these feelings so that they become normal, lean into emotions, during times of anxiety or change.
Understanding and acknowledging change and resilience
A couple of points worth considering before we dive into the full article, are the impacts of change and the need for resilience, in business.
Change is when your business improves, restructures, or transforms all or part of its operations. This can be stressful. We have recently experienced a few years of transformation with some expected and some unexpected winners.
One of the big wins has been the sustainability of small businesses and how they have become champions during a global pandemic where bigger similar businesses have struggled.
Some of this is about relationships. The smaller a business the better you know your suppliers and customers. Even during growth you can keep the personal touch, vision and mission, front and centre. Whereas the bigger players may have lost key suppliers, been aggressive in their purchasing and therefore squeezing their suppliers out of business, or not showing enough value to their customers.
Right now (April 2023) supermarkets are trying to convince smaller growers to join their supply chain, and these smaller healthier growers should be cautious. These relationships start off well (especially when the need is high) and then the finer points of complicated contracts being used to drop growers or refuse their product.
Another issue is workforce, something we took very much for granted that student and overseas workers would be flowing through our country regularly, being able to stay as long as they wished to fulfil farm, health, and retail positions. Building resilience here means being a good employer, maybe B Corp Certified, with flexible working hours, good pay, and benefits. And this can only be achieved with good growth and sales.
Which brings me back to the reason for this blog post.
What’s your best business approach?
To give you a quick way of assessing where you are currently, and if there’s any further research or conversation required to start or grow your business, I’ve outlined four important elements in the business building process for you.
Visualise, Test, Evolve and Function
The following is a whiz bang run through of what should take a few hours to cover in enough detail for you to have the framework of a good business model, whatever your stage or size. But this is a great start point and worth considering against the information you already have about you and your business. Be honest. Be brave.
This is my very favourite stage of business discovery. Talking about your motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. And how these play into your entrepreneurial spirit and where you see yourself in 3-5 years’ time.
Bringing together your revolutionary business idea, company name and vision.
This stage can often be an area of innovation that you feel uncertain about. It’s key that you gain and show clarity and vision to achieve your desired future.
Investigating what your business does and how you intend to make money is the natural follow on from understanding your idea and vision. Your opportunity to look at the market size, customers and why would they buy from you.
A SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, is something I recommend you undertake regularly. As we know things change rapidly and you need to have a plan when they do. Here’s a link to a free template from HubSpot.
When you have these answers, it then allows us to understand what skills/people you need – can you partner/collaborate to expand your reach – what money, facilities, and equipment are essential, and do you need a strategy for marketing, finance etc.
This is where everything connects. Your value proposition: the vision, mission, and goals to deliver your customer solving solution, the service or product importance to your customer, and how your goals and mission drive this value.
Your values are hugely important and should show differentiation between you and your competitors. These are your ideals, or principles, that people inside and outside of your business will associate you with and hold you to.
Evolving also considers how you will operate in the next 1-3 years. From your financial, marketing and sales strategies – what are they and what do you need – and more importantly who is going to do them. Most often it’s you! So being clear from the start is going to make life much easier as the months go by and your involvement in the business deepens and priorities change.
Always aware of the steps you need to take to guide your customer interactions to your products and ultimately to buy.
There is a lot of analysis here, something that’s easily overlooked or sometimes not well understood, in the set up or pivot stages of business. Therefore, it’s key to be clear about how you deliver your business offering, accomplish your goals and structure your day, week, month around all of the already mentioned business essentials!
As part of this you’ll be looking into your customers and their buying behaviours: who are most important, the channels you use to reach them, how to serve, retain and develop repeat business from them.
And finally, how you grow. How fast, why, and where.
It’s been a whiz walk through what is a complex but thoroughly enjoyable (if you take regular breaks and reward yourself on a job well done after each segment is completed!) way of understanding your business, now and moving it through the years and changes that both of you will experience.