Running a small business requires having a vision and an action plan to develop that vision into a scalable enterprise. Every small business owner should have a growth plan in place for driving sales and revenue. Too many small business owners are too timed with their growth plans. Variety in business is generally good, but when it comes to profit and revenue, an entrepreneur’s expectations should be fairly singular – go big. At least that is according to business development expert Cameron Herold, who drove 1-800-GOT-JUNK’s growth from $2 million to $106 million in a handful of years when he served as COO. Otherwise, he says, you’re probably selling yourself short.
“If you’re a CEO or entrepreneur and you do not plan on doubling your profit and revenue within the next three years, you may be lacking focus,” says Herold, author of “Double Double” ( www.DoubleDoubleBook.com ). “It’s within your grasp to increase your business drastically within a few years, but you need to make several smaller goals in order to do so. It all starts with a vivid vision.”
Here Herold discusses how to cultivate that vision.
Get out of your office. A vision needs perspective, and if you’re waiting for inspiration to strike at your desk or the boardroom conference table, you’re bound to get dragged into the daily routine, says Herold. You need to allow your mind to drift into the future, but at the office you will get pulled back into specific constraints. “Go somewhere that allows you to forget metrics, daily tasks and obligations. Great locations to set your mind free include the ocean, a forest or a place in the mountains. Or, simply lie down in a hammock in your backyard and start sketching ideas.”
Turn off your computer. Computers are notorious for sucking you into the vortex of daily emails and tasks. Instead, put pen to paper. There’s magic in just writing it all out by hand first. “I got a sketchpad with unlined paper,” Herold says. “Initially, I had trouble thinking abstractly because I’m so left-brained. I turned my sketchpad sideways, ‘landscape mode,’ and ideas for how my company would look in three years began coming to me.”
Think “where” and not “how.” Look at the road in front of you. Don’t focus on how you’ll make it happen. The “how” mentality is sort of like trying to edit a first draft before it is written; the “where” mentality allows you to simply get your ideas out first. Where do you want your company to go? Look down the road, see what you see and let the view have its moment. Don’t get ahead of yourself. The how will have its day.
Think outside the box. Getting out of your comfort zone will change your usual thought patterns and spark creativity. Think about crazy stuff – maybe something too outlandish to share at a meeting or even consider seriously. “I like to use a technique called ‘mind-mapping,’ which isn’t so much formal writing as it is plopping down random thoughts onto paper and fleshing them out later,” Herold says. “Mind-mapping allows you to brainstorm without having to provide explanations of strategies for achieving the desired goal. Here’s a good rule: if what you think about during one these sessions seems bizarre or unlikely, it’s something you should definitely include in your vision.
Once you have a vision for growing your business start setting goals and putting those goals in writing. Say for example, you want to get more customers. How many? What type of customers? Where? Research shows that more than 90% of those people that write down specific, realistic, deadline oriented goals actually achieve their goals.
If you feel like you need some help or guidance, then get an advisory board or a business mentor. In fact most experts encourage small operations to have a board or group business mentors. Your board can even be family members that you trust, or friends. Having someone to bounce ideas off and get an objective opinion is critical to your business growth.