Business Growth - A Quick Health Check

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If you feel being in business is harder than you anticipated, your business is erratic and difficult to plan for the future or you’re always busy and often stressed, you’re not alone. In most cases the underlying issue is a lack of Business Growth.

I often see owners grappling with changing market conditions either as part of a global shock or, more commonly, a slow gradual change. I call this the boiling frog theory: you put a frog in boiling water and it jumps out, but put it in cold water and slowly turn the heat up and it gets cooked. Unfortunately many business owners are experiencing the water temperature being turned up and either don’t notice, don’t know it can happen, or do know but expect it will stop and return to the temperature it was.

Business owners constantly seem to be waiting for: the AU$ to drop; banks to start lending again; the next Federal election. All of these are valid external market factors, however, is it realistic to expect business matters a different result when and if the change occurs? Can your business survive the wait? What if it doesn’t happen?

I recently visited two identical established local businesses supplying the same market with the same product. One was telling me business was tough and he was in survival mode. The other was telling me he was too busy and was concerned about satisfying orders. The difference in attitude was stark.

The first business was taking advice from family, bookkeeper and accountant all using their collective experience of that business for the past 20 years. The second business had employed a manager who recognised market changes and implemented different marketing strategies, which saw sales increase.

Business Growth for most business owners means increased sales but beware “top line vanity, bottom line sanity” i.e. it’s no use chasing sales if they are not profitable. One of the business diagnostic tools I use at Thexton Armstrong Napper is the Business Growth Wheel which, like all wheels, runs more efficiently when it is large, round and smooth. Achieving increased profitable sales can be easily eroded if one or more of these elements are not working optimally.

Mark each element out of 10, marking where you believe your business is for all those items and then join the dots. This will give you a picture of how clunky or smoothly your business is running and what may be the major areas holding you back.

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