There are key developmental stages in the growth of a Small to Medium size Enterprise (SME) and this is a question that we are asked a lot by our business start-up clients and even those who’ve been established for a number of years.
The development of a business can be quite fluid and does not follow any particular pattern because it is subject to environmental factors such as the level of competition and the product or service sector it is operational in plus external factors relating to the health of the economy.
However, to help our clients we have identified 5 key indicators that your SME or Small Business (SMB) has come of age.
1. Steady flow of potential customers
If you are an online business you will see a steady consistent growth of web visitors that you can track for free via Google analytics reports.
The only sure way to build web traffic is by consistently delivering good, fresh content and having a site that matches the needs of your target audience.
If you are an offline business you will be now experiencing a steady flow of potential customers into your retail premises, for example or you are engaged in a good number of potential customer contacts through your sales channel.
2. More than a couple of customers
The much celebrated early customers may have moved on now – they were so important because they gave a validation of the enterprise and proved the business model to a certain extent.
If you are a service business you may have retained your early clients and added to them now – that’s the key.
For online businesses you will now be able to track the ‘web visitor to sales conversion’ ratio – a vital piece of information that will help you predict when you will make your next sale.
3. Referral and Repeat Business
If you are focused on doing an excellent job for your customers and providing superior customer service you will reach a stage where your customers come back to you to make additional purchases (repeat business) or are so impressed by you they tell other potential customers about you and these other potential customers make a purchase (referral business).
In terms of development this really is like an Olympic Gold for your business. The reputation and customer base of your business can literally grow over night when you consider how your business could benefit from a number of @mentions on Twitter, for example.
Social media has made referral and repeat business even more important.
4. Business Continuity
For the SME that started as an individual’s primary concern there is a key indicator that is more significant.
Can you maintain a level of business continuity when you have a day off? We understand that for many SME owners at the start they ARE the business.
If this is you one of your short term objectives should be to set in place processes and plan resource in order that your business can continue if you need to be away from it.
Business functions can be outsourced (helpline support) or automated (regular customer service emails) for a low cost and it will you identify what you truly need to spend your time working on.
5. Steady Profit
Perhaps this is the most obvious sign for most. You have reached the stage where you are making steady profits.
Your sales forecast has a level of accuracy to it that you only dream of before; environmental and seasonal adjustments have been made.
There’s no guarantee that this will continue indefinitely but this is a rewarding stage to have reached.
If you would like us to help you reach any one of these key indicators, please give us a call or email us and we will be happy to work with you to deliver growth for your business.
We hope you find this information useful.
Marketing Fundamentals TeamFollow us on Social Media