Business Growth Guide
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
– Benjamin Franklin
Review your basic business needs each year
Second stage businesses are established entities that have successfully navigated the startup phase, and are looking to grow. Taking your company to the next level of growth involves engaging with the variety of resources available that can help you plan your strategy, build capacity, market your product or service, attract the right employees, and all the items that are critical to building a strong and dynamic business in today’s economy!
Plan Your Business
Those who fail to plan, are planning to fail! Driving your business to the next level starts with a well-crafted business plan. This ensures that you uncover your areas of growth potential and identify potential challenges BEFORE you have to address any issues that could derail your success. Additionally, if you plan to seek funding for your growth, most lenders will want to see your updated business plan.
Get tips and help from resources by reviewing the Startup Guide.
Maintain Business Licenses
Having a current Business licenses and Business Tax Receipts, an Occupational License, and any other licenses that are required is essential to your business success. The licensing requirements may change as your business grows, especially if you are adding employees. Get legal and stay legal!
There are a variety of creative ways to fund a business. From attracting friends and family members to exploring micro-lenders and commercial banks. The Funding Guide can help you in preparing for seeking funding, and then locating potential sources of money to fund your growth.
Networking for Growth
Networking is happening all over town and offers direct interaction with people from a variety of other companies and organizations. This allows you to plug in to the community, enlarge your circle of influence, and increase exposure of you, your company, and your products. However, before you go to that next networking event, consider the following tips:
- Be Prepared: Think about who you want to meet at the event. Have a plan, and ask others who will be at the same event to help you meet the people on your list. Think about what you want to say and how you might engage them. You’ll find tips on how to develop an elevator pitch.
- Be Easy to Talk to: Actively listen to what others have to say and ask questions as appropriate. Don’t try to make a sale immediately, ask how you might be able to assist them. People want to do business with people that they know… and like! Have a positive, upbeat attitude. Be sure to wait for the right opening to enter into others’ conversations. Don’t interrupt!
- Be Ready to Follow Up: Once you’ve made a connection, don’t lose it. Phone or e-mail promising contacts the following day. If you promise to provide something, do it!
- Making the Most of Social Media: Successful social networking demands professionalism as well as a heightened sense of self-awareness and value. Many times sharing photos of an event and tagging people will get you connected with others. Check out 5 Tips for Social Networking Success.
Check out the BizLink Orange Events Calendar for upcoming events and networking opportunities.
Hiring & Managing Employees
Attracting and retaining good employees is key to business success
Hire Great Employees
Your people are your company’s most valuable asset. You must be thoughtful in how you attract and retain the right employees to support your growth because turnover will cost you in valuable time and money.
Building capacity may require adding employees to accommodate growth. Attracting and retaining the right team for your business can be challenging. It is critical that you attract the right person for the job and the right fit for your company culture, so spending time up-front to get it right will save you time, money and headaches in the future. Check out the resources below to get an idea of what things you might want to consider before making the offer:
Drive Profits through Marketing & Sales
Research and Planning
Doing your homework on your clients and the marketplace up front, will always save you time, money and a lot of trouble in the future. The most successful businesses will do market research as part of any business planning process.
Marketing is all about connecting with your customers! Knowing the needs and wants of your target market and then creating an environment that makes it easy to buy from YOU is critical for success.
Competition & Sales
- Determining what people would be willing to pay for your product or service and if there are enough of them to make it worth your while to serve them.
- How you intend to cost efficiently deliver the service or manufacture the product you intend to offer.
- Discover your competition and what might be unique about your offering.
- Understand whether your product might be something that is extremely unique or proprietary which might involve a patent.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has an online tools that assist small business owners to see how their company compares to the competition and find their competitive edge.
Locate organizations near you that provide excellent marketing and sales coaching for your individual needs using the Resource Navigator.
If you look at the USA as your marketplace, consider selling to the world
Expanding Revenue Through International Trade
If you sell your product or service throughout the United States, then you have the potential to increase sales to markets and customers around the globe!
Begin exploring international trade options in Central Florida by visiting the Central Florida International Trade Office website.
Additional resources & organizations that provide support to Central Florida businesses looking to engage in International Trade:
- BizLink Orange’s International Trade Business Guide
- US Department of Commerce – US Commercial Service
- SBDC – Export Marketing Plans
- Export from Florida – Enterprise Florida
Business Development Managers help Central Florida companies smooth their entry into worldwide markets with value-added services, including:
- Preparing marketing plans for international markets
- Handling export operations
- Import Information Assistance
- Providing international market research
- Identifying best market prospects
- Advising on finance and insurance options
- Working to find customers and partners
Selling to Big Business & the Government
Explore the option depending on your business type
Government agencies and large corporations purchase all the same products and services that most businesses do, however, selling to government agencies can be tricky and time consuming. Businesses throughout Central Florida rely on the professional assistance of the area’s Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.
Florida PTAC professionals provide small businesses assistance in understanding RFP’s and submitting bids to large businesses and government agencies. Additionally, the PTAC office may assist businesses in gaining certifications for women-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses which may benefit businesses as part of their bid responses.
The Government Contracting Guide provides additional details.
Certification programs can help you market your business to both large business and governments. Many large corporations and governmental entities set-aside a percentage of their purchasing contracts for small businesses, minority, and/or women owned business enterprises. (MWBE) Becoming “certified” as one or more of these types of businesses enables a company to improve their bid on some contracting opportunities. The Certification Guide provides more details.
Most government entities will require a company to at least go through a streamlined or shortened verification process that is specific to that agency. Certification can take from 30-90 days.
The following Resource Partners assist in procurement and certification.
Boards & Advisors
Outside oversight and input becomes increasingly vital as a company grows
Official boards of directors and unofficial advisory boards can provide connections and ideas to drive business expansion.
- SBDC’s Advisory Board Council is a next-level, business support service, assisting established Central Florida businesses by matching them with experienced business professionals with a diverse range of skills who work together on a “custom-fit” advisory board.
- Overview of boards of directors (The Free Management Library)
- Harnessing the Power of an Advisory Board (About.com )
- Ten Tips to Setting Up an Advisory Board (Stengel Solutions)
Mentors, peer groups and roundtables also offer some measure of input.
It’s never too early to look at options
One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind.