Are you happy with the growth of your business? Small business owners have ambitious goals. It’s part of the mindset that drives success. Some owners also can be overly optimistic and are disappointed when they don’t achieve their growth goals. To ensure your goals related to growth become a reality, consider how to overcome these common roadblocks to growth:
Unrealistic assumptions about growth. It can be hard to accurately forecast and predict resources needed to generate new sales, customers and products. You might know how your business operates, but you might underestimate how expensive it will be to acquire the new skills, customers, and products required to grow. Often, that underestimation relates to needed capital.
Focusing on new customers. Are you the type of owner who tends to focus on finding new customers who can buy new products? The reality of growth is much different: only 17 percent of growth actually comes from missionary selling — new products to new customers. Two-thirds of growth comes from penetration and cross-selling to existing customers. According to SunTrust Business Owner Research, selling to existing customers also is likely to shorten sales-cycle times and lower acquisition costs.
Failure to evaluate lessons learned. Entrepreneurs are smart, fast and adaptive, and they are driven to sway others to their point of view. They don’t have a reputation for being reflective, unless forced to be. However, slowing down and listening to what internal and market voices are saying can be a critical step to customizing your offerings for broad acceptance — helping fuel growth. The best way to ensure this reflection happens is with a written business plan documenting assumptions and specific growth goals, as well as, building mechanisms to foster learning.
Failure to leverage others. SunTrust research shows business owners are time-starved and admit they should do a better job leveraging and empowering employees. They often fail to relay expectations to their employees and help them understand and adopt a vision for growth. A clear elevator pitch makes it easier to enlist the support of business partners, suppliers and customer advocates who can motivate business growth with referrals, partner support and general market information. Don’t go it alone. Most business owners who don’t reach out to others take on most of the sales burden for their companies.
About SunTrust Business Owner Research: SunTrust surveys small business owners and advisors as part of its ongoing business seminars and symposiums. The small business owners attending these events include both SunTrust client and non-client business owners and are representative of the broad spectrum of businesses located in the SunTrust markets. The research cited in this report is extracted from these 5,425 small business owner surveys collected between 2007 and 2011.
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