Here’s How To Know What To Do At Each Stage Of Your Business’ Growth
Hey there, Catherine Langman here, and welcome to today’s episode of the Productpreneur Success podcast!
And today, I want to talk about how to plan for your business success, how to plan to achieve your goals, even if you have know idea what you should be doing or what you should focus on to realise your vision for your business.
A lot of people struggle with trying to work out what they should be focusing on, or what are the right strategies to be working on right now, to help move them forwards in business.
And trying to figure that out can be tricky and lead to feelings of overwhelm or feeling like you don’t have what it takes to succeed in business.
So let me reassure you that all this stuff is totally figure-outable, and hopefully today’s episode will help shed some light on this for you.
But before we get started, I want to let you know that I have something extra special for you to accompany this episode.
I’ll be hosting a FREE live tutorial on this Thursday 12th March at 11am Sydney time, where I’ll be doing a deep dive training into the 3 essential pillars for eCommerce sales success.
Join me live and you’ll have the opportunity to not just learn exactly what you need to have in place to build a profitable online store, but also ask me questions as well!
I’ll link to the booking form in the show notes if you’d like to join me live for this tutorial.
Alright, let’s dive into today’s episode.
How To Plan For Success (Even When You Don’t Know How…)
I think one of the hardest things in business, is knowing what to do next. How to plan effectively for business growth.
What do you do to start your business? What do you do to scale from there?
I tell you what DOESN’T work if you want long-term growth: doing the same thing as you always did.
If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you’ll always get the exact same result!
Or, put it another way – what got you to where you are right now, will not get you to where you want to go.
Scaling from one level to the next always requires different inputs.
So, what do you do at each stage of your business, in order to grow to the next stage?
1. Getting started and launching your business
I remember when I launched my first business, I was absolutely sh!tting myself! I was almost too scared to tell any of my family and friends I’d started a business, or invite them to look at my website.
Why? Because of an almost-overwhelming fear of failure. I had set myself a really big goal, and standing on the starting blocks, that goal looked totally unachievable!
Is that familiar to you?
It’s actually really common!
BUT, if you want to progress, you gotta beat that fear of failure.
And the way we do this, is to detach ourselves from the outcome and focus on the process.
You want to focus on mastering the process of doing business, and of sales and marketing, without attaching your ego or self-worth to the outcome.
Doing this liberates you and enables you to just learn what you’re doing.
Focusing on perfecting your execution of the PROCESS, and practicing visualising the perfect execution of the process, is absolutely key in succeeding in any endeavour.
Perfecting the art of business requires the same commitment and focus as becoming an elite sports person.
For example: Years ago, when my husband was a kid, he was a talented, competitive swimmer.
He was so good that he eventually made Olympic try-outs. (He never quite got past Ian Thorpe or Michael Klim, but he was pretty quick.)
As a kid he did a lot of hours in the pool. As an 11, 12 year old boy, he would’ve been doing 10 sessions a week of swimming.
And he’s kept some of the journals from those days. They recorded all the sessions for each child, how many kilometres they swam, what strokes they did, what they needed to improve on and so on.
And there was one comment in this particular journal as an 11, 12 year old boy that said, “Marcus had an off week this week. He only swam 24 kilometres.”
(Compared to me – I’d probably sink if I tried to swim more than 24 metres!)
So we need to treat business the same. Yes, we set ourselves a goal. Whether it’s making the Olympic swim team, or achieving a certain annual revenue.
Once you set that goal, then focus on the process and just putting the work in.
And what you MUST focus on in the earliest stage of your business is: testing sales and marketing strategies until you work out what works to convert your first customer, and then repeat and refine your process as you keep winning over your first few customers.
2. When you have a few customers (but still a long way to go)
Sometimes, getting those first few sales and customers can be easy and happen quite quickly after launching. For others, it’s more of a slow burn.
Either way, getting those first few customers to buy from you feels so good. This is your proof of concept, right? Evidence that people are willing to pay money for your product.
But a handful of customers does not a business make, does it? So what do you do now, when making some proper, consistent revenue still seems so far off?
Here’s what you want to do: you want to stop thinking big and start thinking small.
That sounds a bit counter-intuitive, right? Normally the advice is to set yourself a big goal, a big vision, and then repeat that to yourself daily like some kind of mantra. Manifest that goal into existence.
But for lots of start-ups, constantly focusing on big goals can be incredibly overwhelming. And feeling overwhelmed can cause you to feel stuck in your business, rather than moving forwards!
Instead, break down your goals and tasks into small manageable steps that are easy to achieve.
Ask yourself, ‘what can I do to make an extra $500 each month?’
Or, how can I move from getting 1 order a week to 1 order a day, and then 10 orders a day, and so on from there.
When you improve a little bit each day, eventually big, lasting improvements happen.
It’s a bit like compound interest: If you focus on those incremental improvements, those 1% improvements every single day, ultimately you achieve much more than if you keep chasing the magic bullet that will blow up your business overnight.
If you’d like a bit of help working out your goals and how to put together a simple business plan, then I do have a blog post that will help walk you through how to put together a plan of attack. I’ll link to it in the show notes.
3. Entering into the growth phase
So you’ve passed the launch phase and your sales are now growing. You’re not THERE yet, you still have some way to go to achieve your goals, but sales are growing.
Sales may not be consistent at this point, but you’re definitely busier.
At this stage, you can often feel pretty frantic. One minute you’re answering customer emails.
Next minute you’re packing orders. Then you’re working on a newsletter or Facebook ads.
At this point, things can feel pretty reactive, with little time for forward planning.
And whilst you’re really busy and sales are growing very nicely, you may not be in a position to pay yourself consistently just yet.
Before you burn out or start dropping the ball on something important, you need to get some help.
This may be hiring your first team member, outsourcing something like order picking and packing, or working with a business coach.
Now, before you go and tell me that it’s too hard to delegate everything you do, because other people just don’t do things the way you want them done, and training them how to do it takes so long that it’s quicker if you just do it yourself…
I know how this feels. It’s a bit like trying to get your kids to make their own lunches or learn how to cook a meal. They make so much mess, it’s really slap dash, and they complain so much that you can’t bear it.
Problem is, if you persist with this attitude, you will end up being the bottleneck that strangles your business’ growth. You only have two hands and 24 hours in a day. You simply cannot do more than you can do, so when you reach capacity you NEED help in order to do and achieve more.
(My kids started making their own school lunches from grade 1. Yes, they made an awful mess and sometimes went to school with nothing more than a vegemite sandwhich. But several years later, and many more chores under their belt, they’re really quite self-sufficient and it’s saved me HEAPS of time!)
I have a lot of clients at this stage, and what is absolutely necessary before you can go hiring or outsourcing is:
Document your processes so that, when you do bring on help, that person will be able to execute each task exactly how you want it to be done. Just as if you did it yourself.
4. Scaling your business
Once you move through the growth phase, and you have a team in place to facilitate your next leap forward, it’s time to scale.
There’s many different ways you can scale a business. You only have to take a peek at Google to realise there’s lots of advice about different strategies you can employ.
The temptation is strong to want to do EVERYTHING! But let me guard against this, as it’s a recipe for disaster! (Or at least, a recipe for being a whole lot less effective and profitable!)
Instead, pick one or two marketing strategies and just focus on doing those really, really well.
Limit your focus to a couple of things that work well, and then optimising those till they produce exceptional (scalable) results. Don’t spread yourself too thin by attempting to execute lots and lots of different strategies.
That is, be the expert, not the generalist!
5: Prioritise for profit
Further to my previous point, you MAY need a little help trying to figure out exactly what activities or strategies to focus on.
I don’t know about you, but my to do list and my ideas list always seem a mile long, so you want to make sure you focus your time and money on the things that will get results.
Here’s a simple method you can use to score each strategy so that you focus on the right things.
First of all, work out what the level of effort will be to execute the strategy. IE, will it take you two weeks, or most of the year to get it done?
Next, work out what is the return on that effort.
I have found this exercise really useful at figuring out what I, personally, should focus on doing, and what I should delegate. I try to work only within the areas I can have maximum impact in my business, and then I delegate the rest to my team.
Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope this has given you some clarity around what you should be focusing on at each stage of your business’ growth, to help you achieve your goals!
And don’t forget to register for my upcoming FREE live tutorial, where I’ll be doing a really deep dive training on the 3 most essential pillars that determine the success of every Ecommerce business.
Check the show notes for the link to register today.