Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations

Welcome to a new series of articles all about business growth. Over the last year or so we have all been focused on COVID-19 and the challenges to be faced over the years ahead. It has not been a particularity happy time for many. While some businesses have had to close or reduce staff, many have kept going and there are new ones starting most weeks.

This series is all about the future and the optimism that comes with growth. Let us remember that starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive and determination of the people who do it as it is about the products or services they sell.

To grow your business, you first of all have to grow yourself and that will be the focus of the next article. You will need confidence and courage, skills and knowledge and, above all the ability to think and work smarter not harder! Growth often means going into the unknown and you will need to be prepared for the unexpected!

You will find it easier to grow your business if you collaborate with others and become part of networks that will offer support and encouragement. I will look at some of the innovative networks that have grown up in the Pacific, especially over the last year or so, and explore how to make the most of them.

A business owner does not grow a business on his or her own – you will have a team which might include full or part-time staff, suppliers, contractors and others. They can all help with business growth if they are allowed to become involved!

All business have customers who are a crucial part of any business team – no customer, no money, no job, no business. As you grow your business you may need to find new customers or new markets and you might need to learn new ways of accessing these markets, especially with a focus on modern technologies.

All business sell products or services. Business growth will require you to look carefully at what you sell, why you sell them and who you sell them to and make changes to what you do and how much you charge for your services.

If your business is to grow, it is likely that you and your team will get busier and you will need to be better organised and put in place efficient systems such as financial accounting software and other systems that can free you up to do other things.

Your planning will need to be dynamic and active and geared towards growth. A business plan written 12 months ago is unlikely to be of any use as you move forward on a new path. And of course, you will still need to plan for the unexpected – to be as resilient as you can be.

To get yourselves ready for this exciting journey of growth, start by reviewing the last 12 months. Document all the things that have happened that you are proud of along with the strengths of yourselves and your teams. Write down the things you struggle with and that could hold back growth. Start to think about the opportunities that lie ahead for you over the next year or so and, finally, what could threaten your growth? Remember, threats may come from outside, like a cyclone or Covid-19, or from within like a key relationship breaks down or poor communications or the loss of a key team member.

If you can, involve others in this brief review of the past 12 months and start to think about ways in which you can make more use of your strengths to help you access your opportunities. Also, which of your weaknesses needs to be sorted first? Which ones will stop you accessing your opportunities?

Running a business is a journey and like all journeys, hopefully you know where you are heading. This brief reflection on the past 12 months will help clarify where you are starting from now. Then you can start out on the next stage of your journey of growth knowing that, as with all journeys, plans may need to change as events happen that were not expected. But keep your eyes on your destination – that will help drive your forward especially when the going is tough!

Next week is all about growing yourself first!

Growing is an important part of the business, but more important than that is to get better!

As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.

Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact chris@breadfruitconsulting.com or hazel@breadfruitconsulting.com

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