4 (Brutally Honest) Roadblocks to Growing Your Business
BY: LUCINDA HONEYCUTT ON FRIDAY, APRIL 03, 2015
No matter where you are in business, growth comes with a set of challenges. For those in transition from small to medium business, understanding what the most likely roadblocks are and how to address them will make all the difference, in not only how much the business grows, but how quickly.
1. Not Knowing Your Target Customer
You may know who your customers are in the broad sense, but do you really know who your ideal customer is? You may be getting tons of leads through your sales department, but if you find your conversion rates are low, you’re likely not reaching the right customers. Remedy this with customer avatar profiles for each of your target markets.
Your customer avatar is a fictional representation of the person most likely to buy from you, not once, but again and again. Create a story as if your avatar is a real person with a real identity. Dig deep into the details.
If you’re in the business of selling weight loss products, you know your target audience is best represented by women in the 25-40 range. She’s either a mother who’s trying to shed the baby weight, or someone whose metabolism has failed her with age. In this case, you’d craft two separate stories, one for the busy new mom and one for the woman with a sluggish metabolism. Determine what traits they share and where they differ, and tailor your messages to each group accordingly.
Give your avatar a name and a backstory. Describe her motivations, her fears, her limitations. Give her a job, describe her family, etc. Let’s say Sarah is a 26-year-old mom who’s working full-time and going to school part-time. She’s tired, stressed, and needs help. She doesn’t have time to go to the gym. Knowing all this helps you learn how to sell your product to her.
By tailoring your copy and sales materials as if you were talking to Sarah, understanding that her priority can’t really be diet and exercise, knowing she’s concerned about her health because she wants to be there for her new family, you can offer specific answers to her problems...and everyone else like her.
Tailoring your messages to address Sarah’s problems and ease her fears will have greater impact than messages written to the generic, broad, customer definition you started with.
2. Failing to Scale
That contact data spreadsheet that worked for you when you had five clients isn’t going to be helpful when you have 100, 200, or 500 clients. For business success, you need scalable systems in place, like customer relationship management (CRM) software. A robust CRM for business growth will help you keep track of all your customer contacts and where they are in the sales funnel. CRM can even help you manage projects. It’s important to nurture all customers appropriately, from prospects to repeat customers. CRM can help you manage them quickly and efficiently.
You’ll need to scale for other systems, as well. If you’re using a spreadsheet to track expenses, it’s time to upgrade to better accounting tools. Still managing employee time-cards with pen and paper? Upgrade to an enhanced time-tracking system. The time you’re spending on these simple manual systems can and should be used in other areas of your business.
3. Hiring the Wrong People
With the wrong people on staff, you’re wasting time and money. You’re also creating a negative work environment for the right employees, because chances are there’s someone one picking up slack somewhere.
●Clearly defining the job description and employee role. This clarifies what you’re looking for, and tells the prospective employee what is expected.
●Focusing on skills and attitude. You can improve skills with training, but you can’t fix a poor attitude.
●Actively participating in the hiring process.
●Emphasizing your company’s culture.
Employee turnover is costly. You’ll lose money because:
●Your staff will lose productivity while the position is vacant
●You’ll risk having to pay more in overtime to the remaining staff who are now overworked
●You’ll spend money to recruit, interview, and train a replacement
Depending on the level of the job you’re replacing, you could spend as much as 150% of the lost employee’s annual salary to find a new employee.
In the beginning, it’s natural to have something to do with every part of the business. As you grow, move away from tasks you can delegate and trust your employees to handle the day-to-day logistics for you. Micromanaging takes away time from areas of your business more important to foster growth. Considering that nearly 80% of American workers reported having dealt with micromanagers at some point, and one-third of them say they left a job over it, it’s critical to avoid micromanaging in your business.
Roughly half of all small businesses make it five years or more, and only about a third of them survive a decade or more. Don’t let common roadblocks make you part of the half that fails within the first five years.
Image via Shutterstock