When you first start a business you’re bursting with enthusiasm. Every small step feels like a milestone: the launch of your first products or services, your first marketing campaign, your first customer and your very first cheque.
But then what? When things calmed down, did it feel strangely lacklustre? Did you feel you’d stopped making progress?
You’re not alone.
So how do you keep the pace going to achieve the exciting growth you’ve always wanted?
Share your vision
You may know where you want to get to and can see how to get there. However, unless you’re explicit and remind people of this vision regularly, your team won’t understand or feel the same sense of pace and purpose.
Invest time in bringing to life where you believe the company will be in, say, five year’s time. As importantly, help people to understand what that means to their careers and earning potential. When people buy into your vision, they will help to keep that momentum going, even when you’re not there watching.
Make a plan
A shared vision, though, is not enough. You and your people need to create a concrete plan to realise that vision. A good place to start is to create an annual plan covering:
- a sales target
- a profit target
- new product development plans
- a marketing plan (to include which markets you’ll target, and which tactics you’ll deploy)
- a people plan (such as compensation, hiring, development, and management arrangements).
- Your team, and the rest of the business, will then be able to refer back to the plan to be reminded of the shape of the activities for the year.
To really keep momentum going across the business, it’s useful to adopt an approach used by larger companies. That is, to turn the plan into a set of objectives for each person. By setting SMART objectives, you can ensure that all of the elements of the plan are executed effectively and at the pace you expect.
Motivate and Inspire
Your team, like everyone, will have good days and bad days. On the good days, they’ll achieve great things and feel as though they’re making huge progress. On other days, despite everything, it may feel as though nothing much is coming good. That’s why it’s your job to keep people motivated and inspired, reminding them of what they’re working towards and what its success will mean to each member of the business.
Although it won’t increase momentum, if you don’t pay people what they believe is fair, then you’ll soon see progress slow down. One key issue to keeping momentum high is to pay your people as well as possible. If you’re able to link a part of people’s compensation packages to company performance, then you’ll see everyone’s personal rewards rise as the company hits its targets.
Hire and fire
It’s more important, in a small business than anywhere, to recruit and work with great, motivated and driven people. Invest the time and money needed to recruit such people. Be brave and decisive, shipping out those who aren’t right.
Review and celebrate
The cheapest, easiest and most often neglected way of maintaining momentum is to reflect on how much has already been achieved, and celebrate! The whole company will feel lifted and inspired to even greater achievements.
If progress has slowed in your small business, your team may need a boost. And the best boost of all? Getting those around you on board with your vision. Be inspired by fashion entrepreneur Natalie Massenet: “in thirteen years of doing my day job, I’ve learned a few things about motivating people. It’s about setting a vision and, as long as everyone knows why they’re doing what they’re doing, you achieve that vision”.
Heather Foley is a consultant at etsplc.com
Image courtesy of Zuzzuillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net