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The ABC of Growing a Business

March 15, 2018

steps to growing your businessAsk a group business leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs what their biggest business challenge is, and I’m confident you’d hear the same recurring thought: building their business in a sustainable, predictable, yet profitable way, quickly.

It’s a reality that most businesses never reach their full potential, always yearning for the thing that will catapult them into significance, but never really finding it.

So to help you in your business growth journey, we asked global growth authority, Royston Guest, to share his take on the ABC of business growth;

A = Attitude

I’m often cited as saying success is 80% mindset & 20% strategy.

A winning mindset will get you far. It will power you to get back up after you’ve fallen, it will give you that determination to succeed and it will help build your resilience to keep going when it gets tough.

A winning mindset enables winners to be absolutely certain they are going to achieve their goals. To many it seems like an elusive concept; as if it’s too whimsical to possibly be that simple, yet again and again, we hear from inspirational leaders that their mindset is the most potent delivery system in their arsenal.

And it all starts with a positive attitude, and the good news is that this is entirely achievable through determination.

The power of a positive mindset

Inspirational leaders know that the world is full of negativity, which presents a full frontal challenge to anyone trying to be positive, and the one unassailable key to success lies in their ability to shut those messages out.

In thinking about developing your winning mentality the starting point is about being clear on your own definition of a positive attitude. How would you define it?

My own personal definition is this: the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think. And the key within this definition is that it is a conscious choice.

Thinking positively is a conscious choice. Acting positively is a conscious choice. Reacting positively is a conscious choice.

Surround yourself with inspiring people

We’ve all spent time in the company of negative people who seem to suck the energy and life out of you. After leaving them you almost feel like sticking your finger into the plug socket to recharge. I call these people ‘Life’s EVs’: emotional vacuums.

The challenge is that negative people are worse than negative experiences. Why? Because the experience can be over in 10 minutes, whereas the person may hang around for years!

There is a really important life lesson here and it is simply this: who you spend time with is who you become.

Spending time and surrounding yourself with inspirational leaders and inspired people and their attitude, their mentality, and their mindset will rub off on you and will help you to create a positive workplace. It’s the easiest and best choice you’ll ever make.

B = Business Growth

Knowing which stage of the business growth journey you and your business are currently in can help you navigate a pathway to growth. I view business growth as being split into 5 distinct stages –

  1. Start Up
  2. Infancy
  3. Adolescence
  4. The Groove and
  5. Maturity

Each of these different stages has its own set of challenges, or business behaviours.

1. Start Up

Start-Up is when you take your idea and turn it into something which says you are open for business. It includes tasks like setting up a company, developing your branding, designing your business cards and creating your first website.

In this stage you may experience feelings of overwhelm, being scared and totally out of your comfort zone, whilst at the same time feeling excited beyond words.

2. Infancy

You’ll know you’re in infancy if the business challenges you face today include figuring out how to find customers and in the early days an over dependency on 1 or 2 key customers, poor cash-flow and your days feel like a whirlwind of reactive tactical tasks.

In Infancy, you are operating in survival mode. You will need to shift from gut instinct mode to implementing practical business sense in order to move to the next phase.

3. Adolescence

This is the stage where you start to ‘build out’ your business. It’s the stage where your business can quickly grow, BUT it can easily and just as quickly take 3 steps back. Great if you can handle it and are prepared, terrible if you’re not ready.

You’ll know you’re in Adolescence if the business challenges you face today include continued customer concentration risk, the robustness (or lack of) your strategic plan (2yr+ time horizon) is in question and your operations are under pressure particularly when demand is high.

You may have experienced feelings of frustration and maybe even anger as you don’t know which challenge to solve first. Your confidence takes a knock as you know you’re carrying the strategic direction for your business in addition to the day-to-day operations.

4. The Groove

The Groove is all about harnessing the growth and scaling up, but it isn’t without it’s growing pains.

The business challenges you face today include inefficient operations, the engine room is just not pumping at the pace it needs to. You need to scale your sales and business development activities to hit your goals and you’re hiring, firing and motivating people without a defined people plan in place.

It’s a great place to be if you’ve set yourself up for success. If you’ve put those hard yards in during Infancy and Adolescence you start reaping the rewards here.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need to focus and knuckle down but you can crank those dials up knowing you are strong at the core.

5. Maturity

Maturity, the holy grail in some people’s eyes but actually can be the stage where you face loss of momentum and flexibility, or your losing talented people and you’re not sure why, or your losing customers and you’re not sure why.

The key here is anchor your successes, keep your eyes open to new opportunities and work through those challenges as they are not going to go away.

C = Cash

Managing cash flow in your business is critical. Yes, revenue, profit, costs are all equally important but your cash management, in terms of your daily, weekly, monthly trading is what keeps your business afloat.

Ignore it at your peril.

And cash management is fundamentally about one measure that really matters.

Your debtor to creditor ratio.

It still amazes me today how many business owners, business leaders, and entrepreneurs don’t instantly know what their debtor and creditor numbers are running at, whether for the year to date or as a trend.

The simple fact is that nearly every business is both a creditor and a debtor, since businesses extend credit to their customers, and pay their suppliers on ‘delayed’ payment terms.

Cash is needed to fund growth

Cash can be what stifles the growth potential in your business and proactively managing the ratio between these two levers is key to being able to fund your growth ambitions.

It often happens that companies get muddled up about the amount of money they have on hand at any one time, because often they’re simply holding it for someone else.

Consider, for example, the revenue you collect on behalf of the Government in the form of corporation tax and VAT. Those amounts come into your account on payment of every invoice, but it’s critical that you ring fence them, perhaps by putting them into an entirely separate account, because they aren’t yours to spend.

I frequently see companies get a corporation tax or VAT bill – which is predictable and happens at regular intervals – and then have to scramble to find the cash to pay it because they’ve made the mistake of thinking that 100% of the cash in their accounts was their free cash flow to fund their daily business activity.

Corporation tax, VAT – or your equivalent – is not operating capital and if you find yourself using it as such, your business model simply isn’t working and you need to revisit the fundamentals of your business growth model.

Cash is king in business. Track its whereabouts and don’t spend what’s not yours.

About the author

This guide has been exclusively written for ByteStart by Royston Guest, a global authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. He is CEO of Pti-Worldwide, author of #1 best-selling business growth book, Built to Grow, now available on audible. Check out his weekly blog at https://www.roystonguest.com/blog/

More on growing your business

ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting and growing your own business. Check out some of our most popular guides;

Starting Up

Going for growth

Funding your business

Cashflow

Leading a business