Growing your business - checklist

Growing your business - checklistUnless you're quite happy just ticking over, it is likely that you will be looking for ways to develop and grow your business. These steps can set you off in the right direction.

  • Regular assessment of your business plan enables you to measure your progress and test your development strategy. Are you achieving your goals? Reconsider where you want to be this time next year and decide how you'll get there. Set new objectives and growth strategies, if necessary.
  • Are your products/services still as attractive as they were? How could you enhance them? Perhaps your competitors are leaving you behind.
  • Conduct fresh market research. It doesn't have to be expensive or complex. Simply chatting to customers can reveal much valuable information.
  • It might also be time to reassess your prices. Maybe you could even put them up.
  • Solid finances underpin healthy growth, so examine your cash flow projections for the year ahead. Are there any potential problems that could hinder your ambitions or threaten your survival?
  • Try to sell more to existing customers: it's cheaper and easier than selling to new ones. Could you extend your product range or sell bundled goods. Ask them how your business could better meet their needs. Add value to the relationship. Always try to 'upsell' – but subtlety is advised.
  • Too many businesses rely too heavily on a few loyal customers, which is dangerous. Each year, some of your customers will drop off. Think about which new customers you should target and how. Set monthly new sales targets and track your progress.
  • Learn which marketing methods work and those that don't. Tactics such as introductory offers can help to attract new customers, but ensuring they remain loyal is a massive challenge.
  • Most businesses focus on one or two sales channels, but using others could make all the difference. You could start selling online, if you're not already. Using online methods could enable you to reach consumers in other areas of the UK or start selling to overseas customers.
  • You could turn your business into a franchise or licence your products to other businesses.
  • Make sure your website represents your business effectively. If not, think about getting a new one done.
  • Social media marketing is one of the best ways to promote many businesses. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites could help you to attract, engage with and retain customers.
  • Even the most committed business owner can become jaded. Step back and pause for thought. Try to build new relationships with people who can refresh your thinking and maybe even provide new commercial opportunities.
  • If you're able to recruit, bringing in new faces could breathe new life into your firm. Pick the right people and they can bring fresh ideas which could make yours a much more efficient and profitable business.
  • Taking a business onto the next level can be impossible if you lack experience or knowledge. A mentor might be able to help, or a consultant might be able to manage a particular business requirement (eg marketing).
  • Much will depend on the nature of your business, its potential and your willingness to relinquish control and ownership, but often attracting external investment, for example, from a business angel or private equity investor, could be the best way forward.