How to grow your business: Long-term planning

This is the third in a series of blog posts on how to grow your business, covering various topics in order to help you get the most out of your small business. This week, we will be focusing on the importance of planning far ahead.

Why worry about the distant future?

Long-term plans tend to promote the fastest growth. A trap that many small businesses tend to fall into is focusing solely on yearly profit and working to improve that. Focusing on the short-term profits will still promote business growth, but at a much slower rate than if you were actively working towards a long-term objective. Similarly, it can be easy to think your business is failing if your net profit is down from last year, but being able to step back and assess whether you’re still on track for your goal in five years’ time will keep you going through the tough times.

What to aim for

There is no set plan for how fast a business should grow, as each one is different. Therefore, when creating a long-term plan, it should be tailored to your business, setting out goals and realistic times to achieve them. A long-term plan could be as little as two years in the future if you are working in a volatile market such as fashion, or as many as ten if you intend to bring something new into the market.

It’s a good idea to stop once in a while and imagine yourself as a customer approaching your business 5 years later. What will it look like? How big will it be? Once you have an idea of where you want to be, you can start setting out goals in order to reach that target and then begin to get an idea of the time frame needed to make it happen. Make sure that you convert your goals into numbers, such as projected revenue in 5 years’ time, or the minimum number of branches open. Solid targets are easier to work towards than vague concepts, and it allows you to track your progress as well.

While it helps to have numerical targets, some of the most common long-term goals focus on the environment and culture within the company, such as promoting innovation and establishing a culture that thrives on hard work. Others focus on reducing carbon footprint or creating a workplace that your employees can feel more comfortable in. A plan should focus around what you as an entrepreneur want, whatever that may be.

Above all don’t think your plan will stay the same, because the market won’t. It’s vital to adapt and re-evaluate from time to time, to keep your goals relevant and achievable.

Involve everyone

As a small business, you cannot afford to waste your staff. When creating a long-term plan, it’s essential to ensure that everyone is in agreement with what you’re aiming for and what needs to be done. If there are disagreements, then discuss them rather than ignoring them; often they will be valid concerns that can add to your plan instead of detracting from it. Be open to suggestions – you have some great minds at your disposal, so use them.

What do common long-term strategies look like?

Long-term strategies are not always as complicated as you might think. A good plan is organised into stages, each with their own tasks. The highest tasks are the original aims; for example, this could be to double the company value within 4 years. Accompanying this are the tasks needed to achieve that goal, such as investing in more warehouse storage. To raise the funds for warehouse storage, you may have to increase your revenue in the short-term by advertising your services. For each task, you should estimate how long you think it should take and when you want to complete it by, converted into numbers that you can set as short-term goals. This way your initial goal changes from seemingly unapproachable to perfectly achievable and gives you a tangible guide to getting there.

These plans tend to look five years or more into the future, so do not be disheartened by the amount that needs to be done to achieve a goal: business growth is slow by nature, and planning around it will inevitably need more time than you think.

Business growth advice from TaxAgility

At TaxAgility, we know what it takes to get a small business off the ground. Our team of specialist London accountants have watched clients take their success ever higher, and been with them every step of the way. If you want advice on how to grow your business, call the business growth specialists TaxAgility at 020 8108 0090 or use our Online Enquiry Form.

How to grow your business: The importance of an online presence

cartoon image of two hands typing on a laptopThis is the second in a series of blog posts that will guide you in growing your business, whether through practical advice or with ideas on how you can change the way you work. Each week we will cover a new topic relating to business growth, to help you make the most of your business.

Why is an online presence important?

Regardless of your business – B2B, eCommerce, specialist services or a deli selling cakes and coffee from 6 am to noon – having an online presence is important. Your website is your digital shop window, it is here that your prospects come to verify who you are and your audience gets to know you after clicking on the link from your social media post. It is also here that the decision to work with you or to purchase your product takes place, which is why your website must be functional, appealing and user-friendly.

On the other side of the coin, an online presence is what your audience, prospects and clients expect from you. Many of your current and potential customers are part of a generation of people who have grown up in a world where the internet is part of daily life. Millennials and Generation Z perform up to 61% of their transactions online, and thus a solid online presence is key to interacting with this demographic.

Having a successful online presence requires a solid digital marketing plan, one that can help you to identify your audience, attract them, and provide them with the right user experience when they come to your site. The best way to start is to carry out an audit of your business environment, including finding out what kind of online visibility your competitors are enjoying, what is keeping your audience from converting into paying customers, and what can you do to achieve greater visibility cost effectively.

Keeping up with the times

Nowadays internet access is primarily done through smartphones or tablets, meaning more transactions are performed on these devices every year. Being mobile-friendly is key. If your website is difficult to read or navigate on a smaller device like a smartphone, it can drive away a large portion of your customers. Check your site accessibility on phones and tablets, and consider the possibility of having a dedicated mobile site or even an app.

It’s also worth staying on top of social media trends and checking what’s popular. Look at what content performs well and what platforms are used by your competitors. For example, the creative industries often utilise Instagram, while media and communications prefer Twitter. Don’t just blindly put up post after post though, make sure that you are actually reaching a relevant audience and that they are engaging with your content. You want the ‘views’ and ‘likes’ on your site to turn into actual business at the end of the day.

How to manage your online presence

With technology advancing so fast, it is becoming a real challenge to manage a strong online presence for small business owners. A wise option is to seek help from a professional digital marketer. Get them to use a wide range of tools to help you to identify the digital channels that are best suitable for your business and take the most cost-effective approach.

When it comes to SEO, time and effort are key. Keep your content fresh, professional and insightful. Also, be aware that the chances of getting to the top position overnight are almost impossible particularly if you are after a popular keyword, consider running a paid search campaign instead.

Social Media are the buzzwords. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube are the popular choices. Treat them like a business function by setting the objectives and measuring the progress. If you aim is to drive awareness, but nobody is reading your post, it’s time to consider changing tactics. Again, it may be worth getting a professional digital marketer to help manage your social media and grow your audience.

Business growth advice from TaxAgility

At TaxAgility, we have watched many of our clients go from strength to strength and grow their business every year. As specialist small business accountants, we are there from the start to help our clients improve and create new opportunities. Talk to TaxAgility today to find out how we can help you grow – either call us on 020 8108 0090 or use our Online Enquiry Form.