Working out your next steps on the road to business growth: Part 3 – Implementation

You’ve developed your plan to grow your business and you’re ready to go – now comes the implementation.

I’ll kick off with another cautionary note from the field of exploring – this time Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great Antarctic explorer. One of my favourite quotes of his, from his book “South” is: “I continue to marvel at the fine line between success and failure”.

My interpretation regarding business growth: if you’ve done the preparation and planning we’ve already covered (in parts 1 and 2), you’ll be in the right ballpark. However, success could easily slip away.

So here are my five tips for implementation:

1. Monitor the market and your customers extra carefully, looking out for any signs of trouble. For instance a wobble in orders from a significant customer might require you accelerate your plan, or cut back on expenditure.

2. Review your activities against your 100 day plan regularly – weekly or even daily. Are things going as expected? If not, why not and what can you do? Being able to assess the cause quickly is essential. E.g. was it an inherently bad idea (in which case improve your preparation phases for next time), or was it poorly executed?

Whatever the situation, figure out what needs doing now in the light of reality, get over any disappointments and crack on!

3. Maintain focus. There are two main tasks to carry out – keeping the existing business running and ensuring successful implementation of the growth project.

Depending on the size of your business, it might be you want to split those – and depending on who/what skills you’ve got available – you’ll decide where to put your focus. The other party needs to be equally clear where their focus is too.

4. Keep taking action yourself and ensure weekly (daily if required) meetings with staff and contractors to keep the momentum building. However, do stick to your equivalent of the “turn-around time” from the Everest example I quoted in part 2, rather than pressing on regardless if things are going off-track.

5. Celebrate successes. Note any problems and put the emphasis on fixing them in the short term. The enquiry about why can come second. And certainly avoid any blame game nonsense as it’ll shut people and their creativity down.

To set the context for all the three steps on the road to business growth, in my view, the only thing that’s certain in life is that if you sit on your butt, nothing will happen. Doing something will generate a result, though that might not necessarily be what you expected. It could be worse – or even better!

So the key is to have worked through the revenue and cost scenarios, made sure the worst case wouldn’t kill you or the business, and go for it.

The more you can break your business growth into bite-sized pieces, that you can test, measure and refine at each stage, and fund through variable rather than fixed costs, the more you increase your chances of success.

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