Plan for Success
October 21, 2022
Success in a small business or SME does not happen in an instant. In fact, many small business owners and managers worry more about failure than anticipating and planning for success. While failure is certainly a reality for small businesses and SMEs, this is not where the focus should be. Obsessing about failure keeps a business in the present time, however, planning and figuring out how to succeed is where the real emphasis should be...in the future.
Planning must be done in a logical manner understanding both the internal strengths and weaknesses of a business with concentration on those items that will contribute the most to the success of the business. This includes:
· Operational review
· Revision of original plans
· Final planning
· Plan execution
A business can start with a simple plan and revise it frequently as necessary for the business to meet its ultimate established objectives.
Limit Potential Risks
One way to limit potential risks is for a business (management) to understand the target market. While this seems to be something that every business should know well, often times small businesses and SMEs miss the market when targeting their audience. They either market to an audience that is broader than their actual market or fail to target the entire audience of potential buyers. On one hand, they spend more than is necessary by targeting too broad of a market, or they lose sales by not targeting all potential buyers.
Know the Customer
Businesses must know their customers.
· Who are the actual customers?
· How can the business help them?
· What benefits does the business’s products or services provide?
· What kind of problems can the business solve for potential buyers?
· When do customers normally purchase?
· What type of businesses purchase from the company?
· What are the demographics and income of individual customers?
· What treads influence the business’s customers?
Discovering the Answers
Finding the answers to the above questions are important. Some of the answers can be found within the data that a business already has, but it must be analyzed. The analysis is a great starting point and might take a little effort to extract what is needed, however, there is relatively no cost involved.
A business can also make use of market research using techniques that also have no cost involved or cost very little.
· Talk to existing customers and potential customers
· Obtain suggestions for possible new products or services
· Test the market with small amounts of advertising at first and gauge the results (did the advertising work?)
· Send surveys to existing and potential customers
· Review monthly activity for trends
· Research to determine the size of the market and if it is growing or shrinking
· Research what the competition is doing
· Review pricing relative to the competition and product or service value
Develop a Story
Customers love to hear success stories envisioning how they, too, can experience the same level of satisfaction by purchasing products or services offered by the business. Every salesperson for a business should be able to relate success stories. How did our product or service provide benefits to a customer? How did our product or service solve a problem for a customer? How did our company stand out from the competition for a customer? How was our company able to personalize a sale for a customer? These should become brand stories for a business that are told over and over again...memorized so they become second nature for employees in sales.
The primary goal of planning is to grow a business into a long-term, sustainable entity increasing in value every year. This can only be accomplished when management stays focused on the plan and achieves established goals for the future. When plans are executed properly, this generally leads to a business that is succeeding and headed in the right direction.