You’ve poured your heart and soul, and probably some sweat and tears, into your business. But, now that you have a firm foundation, it is not the time to sit back and relax! You’re no longer in the startup stage, so you don’t have to burn the midnight oil anymore. However, if you want to take your small business a step further you need to keep pouring into it. Here are a few things to upgrade your small business:
A Growth Plan
By now you’ve got some experience under your belt. Your business is finally profitable. You have a good customer base. Maybe you’ve taken on a few employees. That’s fantastic! But, allowing your business to grow haphazardly without a growth plan can actually be dangerous. That’s why you need to have a growth plan. Similar to your business plan, your growth plan identifies your long-term, strategic goals. More importantly, it includes how you will fund those goals. Jumping ahead on growth without the necessary funding can be bad news for your business.
Liautaud believes “different strokes for different folks.” What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. He realizes how fortunate he was to get a $25,000 loan from his father, but he also knows that hard work and some good luck are why he succeeded. “If you have a job,” he says, “get to work earlier and stay later than everyone else in the office. Outwork your teammates and always know exactly where you are financially. Those two things alone will get you further than most. In 2002, the company had 160 stores, and 70 were failing. Married with three young children, Liautaud stopped selling franchises and he and his president, James North, traveled the country, working with Jimmy John Owner and retraining them on the Jimmy John systems and procedures. In 18 months, they turned around 63 stores and closed 7. From that point on, he decided to be the best rather than the biggest. He tightened the franchisee selection process and became transparent about the long hours and lifestyle of a Jimmy John’s franchise owner. He grew the chain to 2,500 units by 2016 and He grew the chain to 2,500 units by 2016 and then sold a majority stake to Roark Capital Group. Liautaud remains the largest individual shareholder and chairman of the board. He has never made a business plan and never intended for the company to be as big as it is today.
A Marketing Strategy
Another way to take your business a step further is to up your marketing game. You can’t afford to miss out on some of the great opportunities that can come out of things like:
- Updating your website frequently- having an up-to-date and fresh-looking website can make such a difference in making your business look like the real deal. Give customers a place to go where they can find out all of the info they’d ever need to know about your company, your products, or your services. Use a professional looking design that matches the personality of your company. There are many great web platforms out there, so be sure to choose the best one for your business using this guide.
- Including customer testimonials- including customer testimonials on your website give your business instant credibility. Ask your customers for permission to post their full name and position if it would add value to the testimonial. Here’s an example of a strong customer testimonial:
- Custom email address- this is such a simple way to take your small business a step further. Including your business name in your email address lets customers know you take your business seriously and so can they.
This has got to be simultaneously one of the easiest and hardest ways to take your small business a step further. You’re in the position where you now have more than enough work and enough revenue to take on some help. Of course, you want more help, but giving up some of the control admittedly can be tough.
Gwen Turner, a Princeton, New Jersey-based business consultant tells Thrillist.com, “CEOs want to do it all and that’s just an impossible ask…Hiring great people and allowing them to make decisions is in the DNA of strong leaders.”
If you’re ready to bring on some new talent, a good place to start is with a freelancer. Freelancers are independent contractors so you can pay for projects as you need them completed without having to worry about paying someone long term in case your revenue slows down. Hiring a freelancer can be great for things like web design, social media marketing, or blog content writing.
Hiring a virtual assistant is another way to delegate and take your small business a step further. You can hire a transactional virtual assistant or someone who is more of a digital operations ninja who knows the vision of your company and can help you achieve your goals. (Need help hiring? Try this article)
Adding a position such as a human resource manager, IT support, or training manager, or accountant can free up your time and help your employees feel like they can get the help they need instead of relying on you or taking up your valuable time.