By: Roberta Matuson
For the first time since 2006, business growth has surpassed survival as the No. 1 priority for entrepreneurs, according to the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, a semiannual survey of business owners.
While saying you want to grow your business is one thing, making it happen is another. Here is fuel for thought to help you scale your business for growth.
Think big; move fast Rarely do you hear the CEO of a small company saying, “Our goal is to remain small.” Most entrepreneurs seek business growth to maximize the blood, sweat and tears invested in their businesses.
Yet, many are on the sidelines while their competitors are on the express lane to success. Why? Their competitors are thinking big. But more importantly, they are moving fast. Great ideas are just that. What makes the difference is the ability to implement at warp speed for successful business growth.
Keep in mind that the goal of developing a plan isn’t to have a great plan. It’s to take action.
“You can only learn so much while planning; you can learn much more by doing,” advises, Ann Latham, president of Westhampton, Mass-based, Uncommon Clarity and author of The Meeting Clarity Handbook - 7 Quick Tips for Better Results in Half the Time. Develop your plan, take action and make course corrections along the way. Implement more effective meetings while you also cultivate your own communication skills. This will put you miles ahead of less agile companies.
People power Having the right people on board is critical for business growth. The Washington, DC-based start up OPOWER is a prime example of an organization whose growth is powered by people. In early 2009, they employed 30 people. Today, they are a company of 210 people and growing.
CEO and co-founder Dan Yates, believes the secret formula to small business success is hiring the right people.
“We’ve hired really talented people and have given them the responsibility and the authority, as well as great co-workers,” states Yates. The company looks for “A” players and has the patience and discipline to wait for the right person, rather than settling. “A people hire A people. B people hire C people, notes Yates.
Look at how you’re managing your team. Is it time to replace B players with A players? Will you need additional staff to reach your projected growth? Now is a great time to secure the talent.
Recent college hiring trends show that recent grads, whose employment outlook has been dim of late, are ready to trade in minimum wage positions for jobs with a future. Talented workers who have experienced layoffs are ready to get back in the game.
Keeping your pipeline full As we move fully into the recovery, the challenge to find top talent will intensify. Sure you can hang a “We’re Hiring,” sign out your door, but will this strategy get the right people walking into your door? Consider using recruitment strategies that will reach today’s best job seekers.
Keep in mind: your job description is your company brand. Create job postings that draw people into the picture, so they can easily see how they will fit into the framework of your organization. Video marketing that promotes your company culture will give people an insider’s look into your company and the people who work there.
Keep your pipeline from leaking Post-recession employee turnover will take some maintenance on your part, as the economy improves. Make yourself more visible and be sure to check in with your people to see how things are going. To retain top employees, pay particular attention to their comments regarding their direct supervisors, as this is the number one reason people leave their jobs.
As a small business, you can’t possibly compete with large businesses for talent, solely based on money. That’s actually good news, as money is rarely the reason why people choose to stay or leave. Develop recruiting strategies that provide people with what matters most to them. Use employee engagement surveys to discover the sort environment they seek and then implement what is possible. For example, if employees value time off during the summer to be with their families and this is typically a slow time for your business, consider implementing Summer Fridays and allow employees to leave early on Fridays.
Demonstrate trust It’s difficult to let go of every-day business decisions, especially when you are the founder. However, this is exactly what you must do to grow your business. Yates points out that he trusts his A-players to make the right decisions. He also knows that in order to do so, they must have the tools and information necessary to make sound decisions. Transparency is one of the key values associated with his company.
Developing your company culture built on respect and trust begins with the owner. Publically celebrate successes and work together to learn from failures. When you foster a culture of talent, respect and responsibility, you’ll find people rarely do things that will embarrass the company. Instead, they will take greater risks, which lead to greater financial rewards.
When we look at small businesses that have grown into highly valuable companies, we see a common thread. Committed people who willingly giving one hundred+ percent of themselves to achieve outrageous growth.
© 2011 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the highly acclaimed book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.