Back when I was an anonymous young associate lawyer at a big law firm, I had big dreams. I wanted to be an author. The fact that I had never even had a letter to the editor published should have stopped me, but it didn’t. It took a lot of perseverance, striking out, and planning big, and eventually I was able to make the leap.
Many small businesses face similar dilemmas. Stuck in a rut, they oftentimes want to grow, make more money, and make a difference. The question is, how do you take your business from small to big?
As a small business owner, you are likely very comfortable with the way you do things. However, if you feel like you’re ready to grow and take your business to the next level, the first thing to understand is that it’s time to get uncomfortable; bigger businesses do things differently. Indeed, to play in the big(ger) leagues, you will need to let go of your old ways, and learn some new tricks.
Here are four of the most important small-to-big strategies to prepare you for that next step:
1. Have a Growth Strategy: The first thing you should do is compile a list of various ideas for growth that make sense for your business:
- Spend more money on marketing, or
- Open another location, or
- Create an additional profit center
There is no shortage of ideas and strategies to help grow your business. Indeed, here on the Bank of America Small Business Community, you can find scores of articles on the subject. The important thing is to come up with and commit to a few strategies that make sense for your business.
2. Create a Team That Is Bigger Than You: Running the show solo is one of the most common mistakes among small business owners, even if it is very popular these days.
Doing it all yourself is not wise – you need your support system. If growth is your game, then teamwork must be your name. To grow your business, it is essential that you pull together a team – employees, contractors, consultants, a board of advisers, partners, investors, etc. People invested in your dream and strategy.
This is how bigger businesses are run – with a division of labor. With more people, you have a system for instant feedback and a diverse array of opinions, which are both crucial for growth. In addition, having more assistance, more contacts, and more expertise, will only help you to accomplish more than you could by yourself.
3. Be Unique: To grow your business, you should be thinking practically and strategically. However, you should also be brainstorming to find that one thing – the X factor – that makes your business stand out from the crowd. Think about businesses you like and patronize. Isn’t it true they do something unique, different, special and better?
It’s because they have an X factor.
So that is the question you must answer: What is it that you offer that is different and better? Amazon sells more things, cheaper. Starbucks has better coffee served in a hipper atmosphere. You need to figure out your X factor if you want to go from small to big.
4. Plan Big: Planning big is different from thinking big (although thinking big is certainly a part of it). All entrepreneurs think big, but growth companies plan big. McDonald’s was a single Southern California restaurant until Ray Kroc showed up with a plan to franchise it.
Each of these four steps is part of the growth process. After you’ve created a great team, decided on your growth strategies, determined your X factor, and planned your world dominance, you will be ready to go from small to big.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
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