Growth hacks: 5 tips to achieve your business goals faster
Follow these strategies to fast-track your rise to success.
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1. Get specific on your business plan
Every big business started as a small business. Making that transition requires growth, and growth requires a strategic approach. It won't just happen.
A detailed business plan with well-defined, specific objectives is the most fundamental growth hack you can pursue. Specificity really matters. Make sure your objectives are measurable, and make them as precise as possible.
"Become the dominant supplier of industrial cabling in Victoria" is not a specific enough goal. "Double our 2020 revenues for industrial cabling" is much better. And that might require equally specific sub-goals: "Become the top-ranked provider on Google for the 5 biggest searches relating to industrial cabling."
It's also crucial to ensure that you adjust your plans as markets change. You need a 5-year plan, but you also need to be revising that plan regularly.
That can require major shifts when unexpected developments happen (pandemic, anyone?). As legendary investor and business builder Warren Buffet once put it: "Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be a more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks."
2. Use business finance so you can expand faster
Having a plan is a crucial start, but having sufficient capital to execute on that plan is often a major blocker. That's especially the case for businesses, which have less cash on hand than their larger rivals.
45% of large businesses had enough cash on hand available to run for 6 months or more, according to May figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). For medium businesses, that figure drops to 27%, and for small businesses, it's just 24%. And that's just for ongoing operations. Expansion requires even more capital.
That's where a business loan can often make sense, opening up paths for growth by removing capital constraints.
That was the experience for Kate Tomlinson and Tom White from White Clover Music, a full service wedding music and concierge provider. The business grew rapidly, but because clients wouldn't be invoiced until after the wedding, cash flow was limited. The duo turned to Moula to access finance, and one major attraction was the speed of the process.
"Given we are so busy working, and we earn more money working than negotiating loan terms, what mattered more was the fact we could just call Moula, grant access to our Xero data, and clearly show that payments were in our future," White explained.
3. Outsource admin tasks that waste valuable time
Running a business is time consuming. With so many competing demands, it doesn't make sense to soak up hours doing basic administrative tasks.
Take advantage of freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, Airtasker, Freelancer and Design Crowd. Those enable you to outsource tasks without the ongoing expense of taking on full-time employees.
Those platforms are an obvious choice for one-off tasks such as designing a web site or creating marketing materials. But they're also worth considering for routine tasks you have to do on a regular basis, such as consolidating reporting data.
4. Build a professional support network
Beyond those casual resources, most small businesses rely heavily on the enthusiasm of their employees. But while they're a vital resource, you also need to supplement them with advice from experts who don't work for your business: accountants, financial advisers, finance providers and other third parties.
External resources can offer a fresh perspective that's not always going to be apparent when you're slaving away in the trenches. It's also worth remembering that in the current competitive job market, staff loyalty shouldn't be taken for granted.
Gartner research shows that just 9% of Australian workers are "engaged", meaning that they have a high intention of staying with their current employer and are willing to make "high discretionary effort". Treat your staff well, but also make sure you're drawing on other resources.
5. Use social media growth hacks
Social media has grown into a major driver of business activity. 81% of Instagram users actively research products and services using the platform. Maintaining visibility on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and other platforms can expose you to whole new audiences.
That said, building and maintaining a presence on any social platform can be time-consuming. One option is to make use of freelancers to help out (as we discussed in hack #3).
Another sensible option? Make sure that if you're paying for social media marketing, you take advantage of geotargetting options when appropriate. Especially if you're dealing in physical goods and on-site services, restricting your reach can make marketing far more effective.