Plan Ahead to Grow Your Business Tomorrow

SCOREThis article is provided by the Greater Scranton Area SCORE chapter.

Achieving steady, sustainable growth in a small business is one of today’s more difficult challenges. General economic ups and downs get in the way, as do regional issues, government policies, tax laws—and even the weather.

But it also may be your internal approach to generating and managing growth that’s producing slower sales than you expected, even in the face of what seem to be bright opportunities. Your approach to fostering growth may simply be too hit-and-miss. Perhaps you had a detailed business plan when you first started, but what type of plan does your small business have now for moving into the future?

The everyday marketplace tends to be a chaotic universe where things rarely go according to your original design. A growth plan that acts like an internal compass can be a helpful tool.

Start with your day-to-day actions. If you want your business to grow, that should be the focal point of everything you do. Gather the financial details about what’s happening internally. Then put your plan in writing.  It does not need to be lengthy and ultra-detailed. Just the basic points will do. For example, how has your business done in fulfilling your original mission? Did you start with a bang only to see things flatten out? Perhaps you aren’t delivering what you first promised to your customers. Fix any problems or shortfalls quickly.

Keeping up with changes in your marketplace is crucial, so you might have to conduct some new research to stay up to date.  This doesn’t have to be formal research. You might start with a simple customer survey, for example, or check for available research online. Make adjustments as needed in your approach.

Communicate your growth vision to others involved with your business, including outside vendors and contractors as well as partners, investors and employees. Don’t just dream—delegate specific actions to reach those goals.

Find out what objections customers are raising to your sales effort—why they have purchased or declined your product or service. Adjust your sales process to place greater emphasis on closing.

Two helpful books on small business growth planning are Strategic Planning for Small Business Made Easy for $19.95, the latest in the “Made Easy” series from Entrepreneur Press, and The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth for $18.95 by small business growth expert Steven S. Little.

For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”  SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.  Call (570) 851.1608 or visit to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.