All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim,

have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high,

one which sometimes seemed impossible.

Orison Swett Marden

Photo Credit:  Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The economic conditions of the past 5+ years have forced business owners to constantly evaluate both the external and internal conditions that will help them survive and ensure organizational sustainability in the long run.  However, to effectively achieve business results and to drive change you eventually want your business to grow.  This requires effective business growth strategies that work specifically for your company and the conditions, which you are operating in.  To help you anticipate these conditions, here are 10 business trends and hot topics that business expert Susan Solovic predicts will impact your business in 2014:

 

  1. Crowdfunding
  2. Mobile Commerce
  3. Outsourced Virtual Workforce
  4. Cloud-based Business Solutions
  5. Social Media
  6. Local Collaboration Alliances
  7. Customer Service
  8. Security
  9. Disaster Preparedness
  10. Fewer brick & mortar locations

How do you manage your business effectively to deal with these trends? While there isn’t a simple blueprint and not every strategy works for every business, there are 7 key strategic steps you can take to help you develop a plan for your company’s business growth and sustainability given these trends.  These 7 key steps can easily be implemented to propel your business into business growth, not just survival mode:

  1. Assess business successes and challenges. Most business owners go wrong when they set out to grow their business, develop new products and services or rebrand themselves in that they never take inventory of where their business is now and where it has been.  They lack clarity on what their financials are, what the customer base looks like, and what the market influences have been.  And most importantly, they never step back to see what their achievements and challenges have been.  They’re just ready to jump into the new.  So, before you jump into the new, find out what the old is by taking an inventory.
  2. Analyze market segments and develop laser-like business focus.   Segmenting your market comes down to making choices. Who will you serve? Who will you avoid? And which segment can you focus on to improve profitability?  To help you with that you need to: Stand for something.  Tell your story. Know your demographic. Ask what you can offer to your customers. Get clear on your message and brand. Define your unique mission and outline your story that is consistently communicated.  Develop a relationship with your stakeholders to ensure that they become your brand ambassadors.
  3. Manage business complexity and develop systems.  Big businesses understand that without a system they lose time and money.  A system is a set of tasks that are repeated in pretty much the same way at the same time in order to accomplish the same end goal.  This is as simple as: You take inventory of repeated tasks.  You create checklists for specific tasks.  You use technology to implement and automate.
  4. Cultivate a world-class corporate culture on a shoestring budget.  Your corporate culture can ruin, hinder or drive the company’s success. You have to be willing to take on conflict and negativity in an open fashion to turn it around to where employees feel included, rewarded, enthused and committed to be part of your company.
  5. Learn how to differentiate your company and product/service and make a name for yourself. A lot of business owners have forgotten that being in business truly is about the customer – not just about the wonderful features and benefits of your products and services.  What resonates with your customers?  Do you understand what makes their hearts sing?  Can you demonstrate that you’re in business because you value your customers and the community you serve?
  6. Develop yourself to develop your business. As the leader, you set the tone for your organization. A healthy sustainable organization has a leader who is willing to work on himself so he can best lead the organization.
  7. Harness the power of collaboration and partnerships.  Lots of small business owners lament that they can’t compete with the big companies when it comes to negotiating contract terms with vendors or competing on pricing.  However, learn to propose innovative business arrangements with your partners.  You also let the media be your friend.  And, importantly, you make your customers your brand ambassadors.

If you’re interested in finding out how you can overcome obstacles that stall your business’ growth and how to develop a blueprint that works for YOUR business, please join me in a free webinar on February 12 from 1-4 pm.  It is generously sponsored by the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation.  Registration is not limited to women-owned businesses and a recording will be made available within 24 hours after the event.  You can easily register here: http://wcecnj.org/seminar-details.aspx?ClassID=720

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