Adrian Gill, founding partner of award winning commercial consultancy GHJ, shares some valuable insights gained from helping many of the region’s most successful businesses to achieve significant and sustainable growth.
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Most of GHJ’s clients already have a successful business when we start working with them. They’re entrepreneurs who’ve built financially stable and profitable businesses with strong products and services and good reputations. Our job is to help them to take it to the next level and make the transition to a scalable organisation.
They’re often being held back by the same things that made them successful in the first place – instinct, quick thinking and creativity. Their businesses and employees have also usually become too dependent upon them. They need structure, strategy, process, delegation and a trusted shoulder to rely on from people who understand what it’s like to run an SME. Although every situation is unique, there are some key requirements that are common to all ambitious entrepreneurs trying to take their businesses to the next level.
Identify your Future Perfect
Growth for growth’s sake isn’t good enough. You need an end game. We call it your Future Perfect and challenge every client to clarify what theirs is before we do anything else. You need to be able to answer three simple but critical questions – where do you want to be, where are you now and what’s the most practical way to get there? Once you know what your Future Perfect looks like you can start building it.
Make a proper business plan
Lack of proper planning is a common problem for ambitious entrepreneurs. They’re often simply too busy. The result is loose objectives based on a sales strategy rather than a robust growth plan. You need a plan that’s bespoke to your Future Perfect and adaptable to the constantly changing demands of your business. It should provide a clear roadmap of the journey ahead with all your key milestones covered, including critical performance measures, revenue stream analysis, accountability and reporting structures to ensure your growth strategy stays on track.
Research & validate your objectives
If you want growth, you need research that identifies where it’s going to come from and establishes where your strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities really lie. Good research unearths evidence based facts – not opinion or anecdotes – from which you can make informed and validated decisions. Knowledge is power. Use it.
Develop a brand that tells your story
Brand is one of your most powerful business tools. It’s much more than just a logo. It’s a board level issue that impacts your bottom line, drives margin and differentiates you from competitors. Use it to tell your story, communicate your benefits and bring your business to life. We recently rebranded a Bristol based software business, taking it from a narrow product-based proposition to one based on the wider commercial benefits that it delivers to its clients. The company has been transformed from a regional software provider into a market leader and global player through the power of brand and storytelling.
Make your sales & marketing customer centric
Use your research to put your customer at the heart of your sales and marketing. For example, businesses almost always feel that price is central to their offer, leading to one dimensional and uninspiring marketing. However, research shows that it’s rarely as important to customers as they think it is. Knowing this allows you to focus on other strengths and build a compelling proposition that is unique to you. It also provides the opportunity to introduce new pricing models that reflect the added value that your brand delivers. We are constantly amazed at how many businesses don’t look at increasing prices as part of their growth strategy. It’s a quick win that goes straight to your bottom line if you communicate it properly.
Invest in your people and culture
Your people are probably the biggest cost line on your P&L. Their engagement and behaviour impact directly on the success of your business and the external reputation of your brand. Make sure that you have the right organisational structure and people processes in place to help attract and retain the best talent, release hidden potential and generate higher levels of commitment. We have witnessed huge improvements in staff morale and pride that have transformed the performance of many of our clients. Quite simply, good people within a positive culture is a critical component of profitability and growth.
Technology is great, but it’s also a huge distraction. We see a lot of money wasted on advanced but ultimately pointless technology. Be brutally pragmatic and focus on results and the commercial value that the technology brings. Avoid the temptation for off the shelf solutions and select only the appropriate technology you need to support your core business functions and communicate with your customers and prospects.
GHJ is an award winning strategic consultancy that provides practical advice and support for ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs. Established in 2012 and based in Cheltenham, the company has helped some the region’s most successful businesses to achieve significant and sustainable growth. Its clients include Creed Foodservice, Montpellier, BPE, HK Associates and Pukka.
For more details on how GHJ can help you to grow your business, visit their website:
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You can also contact Adrian Gill on 0844 443 5663 or email@example.com