What are your business development goals for this financial year and how are you planning to achieve them?
Whilst it may seem difficult to plan in times of great uncertainty, a clear direction is important for business development. A degree of flexibility will be required, but a longer-term vision will increase the chance of growth and profitability. It will also help your team to remain positive and focused during this time of change.
“Luck is preparation meeting opportunity” – Oprah Winfrey
Undertake a business development audit
A great place to start is with reflection; recognise the successes of the past year. A business development audit is a valuable tool for guiding you through the process. It enables you to review the current situation, undertake gap analysis and identify growth opportunities.
I have included a free downloadable Business Development Checklist template at the end of this article to support this process. You can also find this and other downloadable business documents in my online template library.
Assessing internal factors
Employees and resources
Staff well-being, furlough, home working and possibly redundancies; HR has certainly been in demand over the last year. There may have been some difficult decisions and changes to working practices. There will also be positives; where have your team stepped up?
Considering your current position, do you have the right skills in place to take the business forward? Does your team have the necessary resources, support and collaboration to facilitate growth? What is needed to support their personal development? How will you retain your skilled workforce through the coming year? Would outsourcing be an effective way to fill skill gaps?
An audit of resources may also include your physical premises. If remote teams are working for your business, could you cut costs by downsizing?
Products, services, systems and equipment for growth
The products and services that consumers desire are always shifting, but rarely so dramatically as in the past year. What has been in demand and what has fallen off the radar? Has your business diversified in response to customer needs?
With growth and profitability in mind, what new products or services could you add to your offer? What products and services are no longer relevant and should be ditched? It might feel difficult to let go of certain items, but take care to focus your time and effort on what will drive the business forward.
Now consider your equipment and systems. Does anything need updating, or is it time to invest in a crucial piece of equipment? Are your current systems cost-and time-efficient or are there bottlenecks that need attention? Use training to keep your team updated with any changes.
How to acquire new Clients
Redefining your customer profile
It is not unusual for businesses to have lost clients in the last year. What was a priority at the start of the year soon shifted; we could never have predicted that toilet paper and dried pasta would be the ‘must-haves’ for spring. If you were able to adapt, you may have gained customers. As we start a new financial year it is important to understand who is buying from you and why?
Take this opportunity to re-define your customer profile. When you know your target audience, you should research them; their buying behaviours, needs and desires and what influences their purchases. Client knowledge will impact your message and where this is marketed. Get it right and you will retain and gain custom in the coming year.
Assessing the competition
The market has changed, your bitter rivals may have diversified in a new direction, others may no longer be in business. There will also be opportunists who have stepped in to fill gaps. It is useful to know the competition and to establish where your business holds a competitive advantage.
What would make you stand out? Could specific documentation differentiate your brand? For example, achieving an industry standard or became a member of a relevant organisation could be viewed favourably.
Branded documents for consistency
As you move forward, what are the associations with your brand and is this still relevant? Is your branding strong and consistent across every interaction? This includes the tone of your website content, internal documentation and the signage on your premises. Ensure your team clear on the values that define your brand, so they can put them into action.
For business growth, your brand must be familiar and trusted. Is that same company image shared across your branded documents, website, packaging and advertising? Are your products and services distinct from the competition and easily recognisable?
Give to receive
It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving away things of value can increase the chances of generating leads and profits. These ‘gifts’ can take many forms but could include:
- free consultancy
- website articles filled with advice
- downloadable documents
- speaking at events
- free samples
As we look to the future, what knowledge, skills or tangible goods could you provide for existing customers and prospects?
Monitoring progress with business development and associated costs
Any element of your business development strategy should include a means of measuring progress. If you have a goal in mind, what are the milestones that need to be achieved every month? How will you evidence that those milestones have been reached? Sitting alongside this should be financial forecasts and cost analysis. The business may be developing, but is it profitable and sustainable?
Wishing your business every success in 2021
Being resilient to challenges and open to opportunities is easier if you have a clear vision. Share your business development audit and strategy with your team. Invite their input and provide them with the resources and support to work collectively towards each milestone. Recognise achievements and make this a year when you can celebrate success.
Please contact me if I can assist with the design, creation, editing and formatting of branded documents or for outsourced business support.
Business Development Audit: Free Download
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