Are You Prepared to Grow Your Business Next Year?

Planning for growth can be tricky for small business owners as there's no one-size-fits-all strategy. However, it becomes especially true when mapping out the steps to grow your business in this next year.

A growth strategy for the new year will surely need to factor in the influence of the pandemic, how it affected your business operations, customer trends, and industry.

However, the fact that your plan will consider these changing scenarios, including crises and ways to adapt, puts you in a category of small and medium-sized businesses that are indeed growing successfully.

"Growing SMBs are more likely to plan for the future, or 'scenario plan,'" according to Salesforce's "Small and Medium Business Trends" report, based on research from The Harris Poll, which surveyed more than 2,500 small and medium business (SMB) owners and leaders across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

"Seventy-seven percent of growing SMBs have created scenario plans to prepare for future crises, no matter what happens," the research shows, writes Eric Bensley in a Salesforce blog.

As you plan to grow your small business in 2022, consider these tips and advice from other research, business leaders, and entrepreneurs.

Don't make change without good reasons. Avoid the urge to slip back into an earlier model of your business to "grow." 

Instead, it might be wiser to plan for growth based on this newer, adapted version of your business - assuming it's succeeding with the adjustments you made in response to the pandemic-influenced economy.

"Most of the growing SMBs (79% of them!) believe the changes they made this past year to business operations will continue to benefit them in the long term," says the Salesforce blog about the company's Trends research.

Stick to tried and true business practices. When it comes to growing your business, lawyer Anna Jerden cautions small businesses not to lose sight of tried and true methods, such as valuing your team, as well as your business and community partners and vendors.

"Remember that relationship building always pays dividends," writes Jerden in a blog for Relate Law, the firm founded by the former strategic communications and public relations advisor.

Also, other solid advice when you first started your business may still apply as you grow it in 2022, such as seeking help to help guide your strategy, says Jerden.

"With our reliance on technology, maybe the world has become a lot smaller because information is so much more readily available. But, know that not all information is good information," she writes.

The expertise of professionals, Jerden says, could be invaluable when you're making decisions about the future of your business.

Don't rush it. Growing too fast can be hurtful to a business.

While fast-growth successful companies may make the news, there are plenty of other entrepreneurs who will tell you their venture faltered after trying to grow too fast.

"As your business grows, proceed with caution, making decisions based on verifiable facts rather than gut instincts alone," advises entrepreneur and digital strategist Sujan Patel. 

"Doing so will prevent you from getting in over your head or finding yourself over-leveraged without an appropriate exit strategy."

Be prepared for the challenges you may create. While strategies to help you increase your customer base and boost revenue are a good thing, Patel warns, growth alone isn't enough to support and sustain a company if the right conditions aren't met.

"Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for businesses that are excited about growth to accept – or even create – challenges that they're not equipped to handle," he says in a blog on his website.

Such challenges, he says, include taking on new clients without the resources to meet their needs or launching a product before it's ready. Other challenges involve introducing a product that's impossible to produce sustainably or failing to account for and control overhead costs that increase disproportionately with growth.

"The results, in most cases, are cash flow shortages and/or long-term damage to your brand and customer relations," Patel writes.

Keep looking to grow. Finance analyst Dock Treece believes business owners should always set their sights on strategies to ensure long-term growth regardless of the stage their business is in.

"The key to prolonged entrepreneurial success is to maintain the growth mindset characteristic of business owners in the early stages of their life cycle," Treece writes in a blog for Fast Capital 360.

"This way, innovation, positivity and experimentation can help you embrace challenges as they arise and move forward toward a permanent state of business maturity."

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