Have your sales and profits remained relatively flat for years? Do you see potential but don’t know how to tap into it? Following these guidelines will help add the structure and forward thinking required to take your business to the next level.

  1. Embrace Delegation and Outsourcing – Do you find yourself in the trenches of your business, wishing you had more time to work on generating new business or visiting current customers?  Carefully consider where you and your key employees are spending time.  Are there tasks that could be delegated to other team members.
    Also consider functions such as human resources, payroll, or IT. You can often hire a third-party, at very reasonable rates, to handle these areas for you so you can work on more important aspects of your business.
  2. Develop A Strategic Business Plan – Does your business have a road map? Where do you want your sales to be in five years? 10 years? Who is going to lead the organization if you have to step away? Knowing the answers to these questions is important if you want to have a structure in place to allow your business to grow. It’s recommended that you, along with key personnel, at least annually spend time off-site to discuss planning, vision, and growth strategies for the years ahead.
  3. Establish a Board of Directors or Advisory Board – You might think that a board of directors is only for the GE’s and Apple’s of the world. However, even the smallest businesses can benefit greatly from a group of business-minded, trusted individuals that gather a few times a year to review the business strategy and offer feedback and suggestions to move forward. Maybe there’s a retired business owner at your church that would be flattered to offer his years of experience to help you succeed. Or perhaps a trusted friend in a related industry that would be willing to be part of your board?
  4. Invest in Systems – Do you have systems in place for every routine function within the organization? These can be automated systems or manual, but every function should be formalized and repeatable. Are you using software that is customary for your industry? When was the last time you upgraded? Are you using your existing software to full capacity? Are there modules that you think could be useful, but you’ve never invested the time or resources to explore the capabilities? Continual evaluation and investment in your systems and processes are important to establish a platform for growth.
  5. Evaluate your Team – Do you have the right people in the right place? It’s important to take an honest look at each of your team members’ strengths and abilities. Often one individual in the wrong place can keep your business from moving forward. It’s understandable to want to avoid a process that may lead to uncomfortable conversations and hard decisions, but it’s a critical practice if your business is going to move forward.

The five best practices above are common to the most successful of small businesses. They certainly require time and effort but the rewards can be great.

This article was originally published in Illuminations: Facts & Figures from people with a brighter way, a Rea & Associates enewsletter, 7/2/2014.

Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.
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