Why you need a growth plan as a small business.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. One of the most overused phrases in business and yet planning is something that is so vital for even day to day operations of any business. Small businesses, especially, need to plan for just about everything and nothing can be left to chance. A Business plan is vital but equally so is a growth plan.
What is the difference between a business plan and growth plan?
A business plan is more of a hypothesis in some ways, it lays out the steps you need to take to establish and then run your business. It is based on facts and focuses on potential markets and operational ideas, it is a very good blueprint that gives a general idea of what the business does, its potential and goals. A Growth plan, on the other hand, is focused on actions that have or can be performed repeatedly to create or sustain growth. It is important to have both a business plan and a growth plan or strategy.
Your game plan
The growth plan for a small business is your game plan to reach and achieve set targets. The plan outlines all the steps you need to undertake to grow your business, it outlines your objectives and creates a clear direction. Your growth plan will overlap with your business plan in some areas, but the document is fundamentally different in that it addresses key questions that you must answer if your small business intends to grow and keep growing.
The 7 key questions in a growth plan
There are a few key questions that your growth plan should answer, and the answers form your growth strategy. These questions and their answers are the reason your small business needs a growth plan.
- How do you replicate what has been successful before?
- What operating procedures, policies and standards do you need to implement to achieve and sustain growth?
- How do you plan to expand?
- Who are your competitors? – A SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis is vital and this should be updated frequently
- Do you know your staffing requirements – now and future?
- What are your actual financials? Be precise, petty cash even counts in the early days – sound accounting is vital for growth to be achieved
- Do you need capital to grow?
Under the microscope
Your growth plan is one of the most important documents when running a small business. It is essential to be brutally honest in the document and not be afraid of what might seem negative attributes. From marketing to finances every aspect of your business needs to be scrutinised and the document becomes a running commentary on the performance of your business. If one area is out of balance it could be growth could be hindered significantly. Many small business owners who have a growth plan refer to the document at the business bible, it is a working document full of the tips, tricks and information you need to know to continuously fuel and sustain growth. Even companies that have grown to substantial businesses use a growth plan to remain ahead of the field.
Unlike a business plan that can be completed relatively quickly, provided you have all the information you need, a growth plan takes time to develop. At first, many aspects of the growth plan will be trial and error, you won’t know what works until you have tried it. Furthermore, a growth plan is almost organic and will always grow. As it grows the content becomes more accurate and more valuable, the success strategies become better understood and your business becomes more solid.
Don’t keep it private
It is easy for an entrepreneur to keep a growth plan private. Growth is not easily achieved on one’s own and thus sharing the growth plan in confidence with your team leaders and players is vital. For a business to grow everyone needs to be on the same page.