You’re reading this so I’m making an assumption that you want to grow your business.

But do you know where to start?

I’ve got two kids (12 and 14). And sometimes I’m jealous of them. They always know what they need to be doing.

They wake up every morning with more or less one job. To go to school. They absorb as much information as possible, with a clearly planned (mostly) syllabus. They know what assignments are due. And if they are ever in doubt how it’s going. They had grades to point them in the right direction.

Unfortunately, owning our business isn’t nearly that easy.

You do have a scorecard. But what’s on it? For most of us —- sales. And potentially, what we paid ourselves that month and whether or not we covered our bills. But what else?

As a solopreneur or business owner, there’s so much you have to do all day every day to juggle getting new clients, supporting the ones you have, and keeping the lights on behind the scenes.

If you are trying to grow your business, you need to know what growth means to you, then deep dive into your business, decide what to focus on, determine how you will grow, set your targets, and implement. Sound overwhelming?

As overwhelming as it may seem to figure out a clear strategy for growth, when you break it down one step at a time. It is well within your reach. And if it still seems unsurmountable, I have some tools to help 😉

The steps to get to growth

Step 1: Know Your Why

Why matters because understanding both personal and business will drive growth and create the best offerings and investments that get you to the goal. It looks like:

  • What your business needs to give to you

  • What your business needs to do for the world

Your why will fuel your decisions and help you adjust to set yourself up for what you want in the bigger picture.

Step 2: Decide on the Measures that Matter and set your targets

Once you know what matters, you can connect that to the measures that will get you the most results (and help you let go of all the noise). They look like:

  • Results measures that tell you that you got there (time, money, experience, and impact)

  • Action measures that tell you if what you’re doing is working or needs to change

If you can’t action it — it’s time to let it go.

Step 3: Evaluate your business

The results you want are often easier to determine. But how do you get there? That’s where things get sticky. For instance — you may know you want to increase sales, but you aren’t sure if you need to focus on social media or prospecting.

That’s why it’s so important to do a broad scan of your business. Our brains are so efficient that they fall into patterns to conserve energy. One of those patterns creates a bias to confirm what we already know.

If you rapidly assess the health of every area of your business, you are more likely to shortcut your biases and see your best first step.

What areas do you need to look at?

  • How you run your micro-business

    • Your strategy

    • Your plan

    • How consistently you execute what you say you will

  • The functions that to keep your company healthy and strong

    • Financial health

    • Building people power (human resources and contracting)

    • Operations and supply chain

    • Technology and systems

    • Legal, regulatory, and compliance

  • The market you serve and how you serve them

    • Offerings

    • Customers

    • Sales

    • Brand

Your goal is to find the hidden nuggets you might not see — and get to the root cause vs. the symptom so you can have your greatest impact with the least amount of effort. 

Step 4: Choose your focus

Speaking of your greatest impact — most entrepreneurs I know think they are jugglers. And while we have to be to a certain degree to grow a company, we can’t focus on everything and expect results.

Once you’ve inventoried all your projects (or as Stephen Covey and EOS call them — “rocks”), you need to decide what comes first.

How do you decide that?

The work that:

  1. Is ready to be done. If it’s not ready you need to do something else first

  2. Will get you the most value.

  3. Takes advantage of timing (market shifts, time-sensitive customer needs, etc.)

  4. Logically precedes other work (i.e. makes future work a heck of a lot easier)

Do you know what comes first and are you ready to set aside the rest?

Step 5: Build your systems

Systems are core to running your business efficiently, focusing on the right things, and as a result growing. So what is a system and how do you evaluate it?

A system includes the applications, the practices, and the data you use to get the job done. If the system isn’t cohesive, it won’t get you where you want to go. 

In this step, you walk through all the areas of your business for a second time. But this time, you’re looking at the systems you use to get the job done and deciding what needs some TLC.

Hint: These improvements should be added to your “project” list.

Step 6: Chunk your actions

So now you have a list of projects. It’s time to take your top projects and break them into bite-sized pieces so you can move them forward.

What size should the pieces be? It depends on you. I usually recommend no more than one week per action. It’s high enough to keep the bigger picture in mind but small enough so you know if you’re getting off track.

If you don’t know all the steps, just right down the ones you DO know. Then fill in the gaps with “TBD based on the results of X” (Where X = the preceding activity that will shed light on your path forward)

Step 7: Manage to perform

All of this is great. But if it’s not integrated into a planning and performance routine that allows you to determine what’s working and what’s not — then adapt, then growth becomes a bit of a crapshoot!

What does a good routine look like?

  • It’s timeboxed with short, medium, and long term planning horizons

  • You look back and forward (ideally at the same time)

  • It’s consistent (same time, same place)

  • It works with your natural tendencies as much as possible

Do the steps still seem like too much?

I have a solution for you. In our Gear up for Growth, online course. We will take you on this journey step-by-step in 8-weeks complete with video instruction, worksheets, and “unstickers” to address common hurdles that micro-business owners face.

In less time than a semester of school, you can have a clear strategy to take you from overwhelm to growing your business.

Ready to go grow your business?

Sign up for the free preview of Gear up for Growth.

Jenny Erickson grows micro-businesses by getting them from where they are to where they want to be through advice, coaching, and fractional-COO support. Which business are you?

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