The formula for success is simple, right? Good idea + sales = success. Let’s all just do that and become millionaires.

Gosh, if only it were that easy.

If you’re a small business owner who can’t seem to quite master the art of growth in a way that you can sustain, you probably know that the formula above doesn’t actually cut it. But there are a number of things you can do to that will go a long way to helping to help you achieve the kind of sustainable growth you’re looking for (remembering from my last blog post that you’re growing if you make a 1% improvement from last year).

Let’s start with some key issues you might be experiencing when it comes to sustainable growth and then explore some ideas to solve them.

You can’t quite find your market

When a lot of business owners answer the question “who’s your target market?” their first impulse is often to say “anyone” or “everyone”, even in client-driven ventures and yes, even those who’ve been in business for a while.

But trying to appeal to anyone and everyone is a losing game. As a small business owner with growth aspirations, you have to be more strategic about where to put your resources. If you lack focus, you’ll end up not being really right for anyone and then you become just like everyone else out there and then the only thing to compete on is the price (and that’s a race to the bottom).

So, how do you figure this one out? Well, start by looking at your favourite client and ask yourself why are they your favourite client? It will usually be they love your work, they’re easy to work with, they pay their bills on time, refer others and they’re an all-round joy to work with.

Now think about who else is like that? List two or three other favourite clients/customers. Then look, really look deeply, for the similarities. Is it the kind of service you provide them, the industries they’re in, the size of businesses they own, the kind of people they are, the kinds of customers they have, a shared set of experiences with you. Look for what they all share in common.

Then all you need to do is find more of those types of people.

Maybe also look at your marketing and sales materials. Do they target that person/group? If not, make some changes to appeal more to your favourite customers.

After all, how great would it be to only work with people who absolutely adore what only you can do for them?

You’re struggling to build a quality team

Often when you first start out, it’s just you. But then you might hire a team member or two – probably admin so you can focus on what you do best. But then they get busy, take leave, or move onto another job, etc and you end up having to pick up the slack again. Or you hire an overseas virtual assistant who seemed like they could do the job, but there’s a bit of a disconnect, stuff drops through the cracks and well, frankly, it’s just easier if you do it anyway. And often, all this happens right when you’re in the thick of trying to get a big deal done.

Not being able to get the team working right can be costly both in terms of your cash flow, time and sanity.

We hear this from clients a lot. They want to grow, they just can’t find the right team structure to do it and do it in a sustainable way. So what’s a business owner in this situation to do?

Look at how you’d really achieve the growth you’re looking for. What you’ll probably find is that putting on someone to assist with revenue production is more likely to produce growth than adding an admin.

But what about all the admin you say? Well, then you look to outsource using Australian companies to help, like a virtual receptionist or appointment booking specialist who can convert callers into appointments (for a fraction of the cost of a staff member) AND you also look to use technology to assist with the admin. Cloud accounting programs like Xero make book-keeping a doddle these days, Squirrelstreet for keeping track of all your invoices and receipts and a number of other online apps can save you tens of hours of admin a month. And neither virtual teams or apps go on holidays, get new jobs, take sick leave, etc.

You’re not making enough profit to grow

As bizarre as it can seem, sometimes making good sales numbers just isn’t enough. Keeping your head high enough above water to generate enough profit to fund your further growth plans.

So you might be thinking about cutting costs, maybe even some people? Whilst people might be the most obvious big cost, sometimes easier costs to trim can be found elsewhere.

A friend of a client was told me the other day he pays $15K a month in rent for some 50-ish square metres in Chatswood. Sure it’s in a nice building and he’s got lovely offices with great meeting facilities, but times have changed, and now it’s just him rattling around in there – everyone else works mostly from home. Yes, he’s paying $180K a year in rent. Our client showed him her office, for which she pays around $3K for a space that houses 5-6 people with views and has access to quality private meeting spaces when she needs them.

He wouldn’t even need to spend that much. But even if he did, that would drop his rent to $36K a year (inclusive of all other outgoings) – saving him around $150K a year. Getting out of your expensive rental space and into a pro-working space could free up significant cash flow, take away office management stress (and further admin), leaving you free to devote your time (and your money!) to growth.

If you’d like to chat about how else innovative thinking can help your small business, I’d love it if you got in touch. You can call on 1300 318 680.