Stay On Target: Planning For Business Growth

In a recent article, we touched on what you can do to make the most of your goals for this year. The sum of it, roughly speaking, was this:  Specificity and clarity —  applied to means and methods — practically guarantee a smoother journey.

You break down an over-arcing goal in stages to make it more specific and time-bound, and then break those stages apart in smaller steps. This helps guide you to make consistent, sustainable, and steady progress, and is also great help for when you feel the monotony wearing you thin.

  • You feel lost? Refer to your project ‘map’ to re-orient and guide you.
  • You can’t quite focus or decide on what to do? Just look at the next step to take.
  • You feel down? Look at the work you’ve already put in towards your goal. You are working on your dreams. Keep going!

Essentially, with this system you’ll be setting yourself up to win. Regularly, and in small ways.

Let’s say you want to do a better job — how do you plan on going about it? You want to keep your skills updated and sharp — how are you going to do that?

It’s like using the method, “Don’t break the chain.” Come up with a clear, specific goal and work it backwards.  You  write all the steps down, and every day you take a step. Just one.

We also touched on other things like:  Focus your energies on what would simply not happen without you.  Find sources you can trust, find mentors, find or create a focus group.  Test things out by making  small bets.  Test, try, work at it. You can only go so far with theoreticals. You have to do the actual work to learn first-hand.  Broaden your experience, and keep learning to think for yourself.

Moving from general aims to specific goals, what are you focusing on for your business this  year?

What are you doing to drive retention?
There are a lot of online articles and forums sharing information dedicated to how to create good sales funnels, and how to grow email lists. These are indisputably valuable resources for entrepreneurs, especially for those just starting out and people still in the planning stages.

To grow from this stage and help your business mature, you have to ask yourself about the other side of the situation: What are you doing to keep the customers you worked so hard to get?

Not paying attention to that facet of the business is like working to fill a bucket without noticing the little leaks and cracks that develop over time — or having an overflowing bucket where the water runs off to the drains.

Customers have a dizzying array of things demanding their attention.
You need to get their attention, in a way that comes across as a fit to their demographic.
You need to go where they are and ‘strike up the conversation’, as it were.
You work to ensure that your product performs the way it should, your product will become a subtle support in  your customers’ lives, and your business can grow with them for the long haul. This can also lead to good relationships, a healthy on-line community, and stronger  brand-building.

It’s also up to you to build the system that can comfortably handle the inflow of customers new and old without letting any of them fall through the cracks.

Customers also have a dizzying array of options to choose from.
Competition is everywhere. Customers can make the switch easily, especially if they’re dissatisfied. The weight is on you to show that they have very good reasons to stay with you. Keep your product’s value in their forefront.  Customers want value for their money. They want things convenient for them.  You have to do the work to suss out the small, behind-the-scenes details that they won’t often notice, but would value the pay-off of.

Adopt, cross-sell, advocate.
Say your target market (your demographic) is young right now, but in time would be aging.

  • What new shifts must you look at in five to ten years’ time to work with to prepare for that change?
  • What are you doing now to prepare for the shifts in demand when that time comes?
  • What are the technological changes and issues that would affect the way you do business in the near future?

Practice thinking ahead.

To help you visualize, here’s a general example: Think of toothpaste.

Imagine toothpaste — for kids, for adults, for sensitive teeth, sulfate-free, fluoride-free, flavored,  whitening, brightening, strengthening, etc. Then make the jump to tooth brushes. Child-size and adult. Hard, medium, and soft bristles. Extra-soft bristles. Electric toothbrushes — with charger, or stand-alone battery-powered.

Dental floss. Dental picks. Tongue scrapers. Mouthwash — with and without fluoride, spearmint, peppermint, etc. Those fizzy pills for cleaning and soaking dentures. The adhesive for securing dentures. The teeny interdental brushes made to clean under and around braces, or in loose dental brackets. Water picks.

The general market is Health and Beauty. Going narrower,  it’s dental hygiene and oral care, then it’s broken down by function. All the things we just imagined are linked under one big umbrella which means to cover the human life-span from kids to the aged, in the area of taking care of one’s teeth and gums. There are sets, packages, age-specific models, specific dental-conditions (ex. sensitive teeth), etc.

And the companies who make these products respond across the life-cycle of their customers.

Think of the marketing you’ve seen yourself when it comes to this specific area of personal care. Avoid bad breath, defend against caries, enjoy your life, find love and make connections, just take care of your teeth.
See what we mean?

Listen better.
With all the technological tools at our disposal, there’s no excuse not to talk to and communicate with your customers. If your business is big enough to have a lot of front-liners, think of your customers as your second line of ‘front-liners.’ There are those who will tell you what’s going wrong or going right, and those interactions can help you see things you may have overlooked, or at least check out to see if there is a real issue.

Analyze product usage patterns. Be ravenous for data points that can drive your business forward. In a quickly shifting landscape, these small points can be your breadcrumbs out of the wilderness. Just an an example:

  • What do your customers use your product for the most, specifically?
  • How did your customer use your product in ways you did not expect?

Look around. Ask other people from different teams, inside and outside the business, so you can get fresh perspectives and avoid getting locked into one particular mindset.

Meet them where they engage the most.
Having an internal, cross-functional, customer-focused alignment ensures  your people and departments  aren’t working at cross-purposes and weakening your business from the inside out. Instead of a dissonance where one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing, you will have a unified organization bent on being practically indispensable to the target market. Engaging the customers with a service-focused aim only serves to strengthen the relationship and make your business work better and become more valuable to your market.

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