4 WAYS TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Two friends gather on a porch after a long day’s work. The one friend’s old dog comes to join them. The hound circles the area a few times and lays down right on the one popped-up nail on the decking. The friends shake their heads because the dog does this same thing every night.“Why do you think he does that? There’s a whole porch and he chooses the spot with the popped up nail. Think he’s trying to tell me something?” the owner asked his friend. The friend shook his head. “Even if he forgot it was there, you’d think he’d get up as soon as he stretched out on that nail.” The friend nodded. “Well, I guess it doesn’t hurt him that bad.” Business can be the same way. There can be a pain in our side but as long as it doesn’t “hurt us that bad” we carry on. We continue to do it as we’ve always done it. It’s generally not until we get to a point that something really pains us that we seek out change. At least that’s true of most people. However, if you’re that business person who needs to make a change, who wants to get off that nail, here are a few ways you can take your business to the next level. Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level Chart a Course If you’re dissatisfied with the direction of your business currently, or you want more from it, decide what that more is. Don’t think in nebulous concepts. Instead ask: How do I plan to grow? What do I want to accomplish? How will we get there? What’s the bridge that will take us from where we are now to where we want to be? Make an actionable map of what it will take. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote about the concept of establishing a “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BAHG)” in their book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” In the book they wrote, “A BHAG engages people—it reaches out and grabs them. It is tangible, energizing, highly focused.” Give people on your team something to get behind. Seek Ought a New Audience If you’re not sure of your BAHG, try a smaller one instead. One of the easiest ways to grow is selling your product/service to a new audience. We see this all the time with high-end designers. They create a budget-friendly version of their line and mass market them in stores. Think about your product or service. Is there a way to reach another market, possibly by pairing with another business? Get creative behind brainstorming ideas. Hire Slowly, Fire Fast Once you’ve established where you want to go, you need to assess your team to decide who is a good fit for your new direction and who is not. This does not mean you let go of your most loyal employee because she’s not sure how to post to Instagram and that’s going to be a big part of your new marketing strategy. This is about getting rid of detractors, not people who are lacking teachable skills or those who don’t agree with you. Change is difficult under the best of circumstances but if you have a toxic employee, don’t let her infect the others. Get rid of her quickly so you can embrace the new direction unencumbered. If you are fortunate enough to be hiring at this time, give some thought to the skills you’ll need as you make the leap to the next level. If your current team is missing something, you’ll need to hire it or teach it. Remember not all skills can be combined into a single jack-of-all-trades employee. For instance, if you realize you need a bookkeeper, personal assistant, and social media help, don’t lump all of these into one job description and try to source for it. Instead, think about professional growth and interests for your current employees. Has anyone expressed a desire to learn more about social media? Terrific. Now take it out of that bookkeeper job description. Consider Your Leadership Infrastructure When you’re a small business and your entire staff is huddled around a coffee table at the local coffee shop, you’re agile and able to respond to things quickly. As you grow and move on to the next level, you need to begin to consider your leadership infrastructure. This is the ideal time to join a mastermind group or some sort of business-leader-to-business-leader mentorship program. The movement from small business to mid-sized is a much less organic experience, and must be more organized and deliberate. A Final Word About Next Steps for Your Business As you grow, remember you’re not alone. There are many community resources that can help, including your local chamber. Look for mastermind and executive mentor programs. If there aren’t any in your area, they’re easy enough to start. Create a Meet-up group or make connections through LinkedIn. Whatever you decide to do, get off that nail. You’ll feel better immediately. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.  

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