BUSINESS GROWTH

Every business owner keeps a keen eye on threats coming at the business from the outside. It’s a long list. Owners watch out for the changing marketplace, new competition, falling sales, expiring leases, new regulations, and other outside threats.

Every business owner keeps a keen eye on threats coming at the business from the outside. It’s a long list. Owners watch out for the changing marketplace, new competition, falling sales, expiring leases, new regulations, and other outside threats.

Inside threats, however, are frequently ignored or missed entirely. These inside threats can be just as dangerous, and this list is also long. Left unchecked, they can undermine business health.

The important inside threats to a business can be grouped into three areas. They are market planning, employees, and cash flow. 

➤ Planning market share. The most important part of your business plan concerns marketing. Take care of your marketing planning and the rest of your business plan falls into place. Market planning needs attention at least every three or four months. 

Who are your clients? How will you expand your client base? Do you plan to continue growing your market segment, or are you considering expanding into a new market segment? What specific promotional initiatives will you implement? Is your business too dependent on a single client? What are the effects of technology on future market share? How is the market changing?

Paying attention to all these questions will help you with your market planning. Staying on top of the ever-changing market helps you focus your day-to-day operations on a more confident future. 

➤ Working with employees. Your employees are the future of your business. Take care of them and you assure a smoother transition into your future operation.

Are any of your employees overworked? Are they adept at handling clients and can they handle customer complaints? Can your employees run the business if you are hospitalized for a week? Which employees can you get ready for their next position? Do you cross-train employees so they can handle each other’s jobs in emergencies? Do you listen to them, and are employees comfortable making suggestions? Have you made them an integral part of your business, discussed with them how they fit into the future of the business? 

Every business will need to add employees from time to time. Even a single-owner business is looking ahead to grow by adding employees. You are building a team, and you have the responsibility of a coach to get all the players working smoothly together. 

➤ Cash flow problems. Incoming payments for goods and services are the life-blood of your business. Healthy cash flow means you can grow and expand. 

Are you running your operation too close to breakeven? Do some clients hold you up on payments? Do you need to weed out some clients? Does incoming cash provide enough for growth and expansion? Are you trying to grow faster than your marketing planning provides? Have you planned your cash flow to provide for future needs--for example, computers, vehicles, larger space, additional employees? 

You have two ways to grow. Generating enough cash flow to fund growth is one way. The other way is to seek funding from the outside. You need a healthy cash flow to support either alternative.

Internal threats are present in every business. Market share, employees, and cash flow need continuing attention. Answers can provide clues to the internal health of your business. Answers can also prod you to solve specific problems. 

Owners need to examine their operations from time to time to identify internal threats. Only by identifying threats can owners put in place solutions that will build healthy ongoing businesses--ready to grow and expand. 

Written by Al Warr

Over the past 40+ years, Al has founded, operated, grown and expanded several small businesses. He knows the acid burn in his stomach when the cash flow stops flowing. For 10 years, Al headed the Business Owners Institute in New Jersey. Helped over 2,000 business owners work through problems. Currently he writes a daily Free blog HelpMySmallBusiness.Blogspot.com. In his spare time, Al has written over a dozen books--find them online at Amazon.com/Kindle

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