Know Your Financials: You
need to know when youíre at break even and what the implications are
when youíre not. Can existing cash flow carry you for the time
being, will using your credit line be enough, or do you need to raise
money or? Knowing the difference between cash flow and profitability
||Know Your Outside Financing Options: Companies
primed for growth know how, when and where to get outside money and
what type of financing to tap. They understand the benefits and
detriments of debt versus equity financing. They know the appropriate
financing option at each point in the companyís life cycle, and are
versed in how companies are valued and the impact of current trends on
the ability to raise money.
||Leverage Core Competencies: One
key to growth is to leverage your companyís competitive advantage by
developing new products or going after new markets. Deploying your
abilities across geographic and product business units will help your
firm achieve economies of scale and scope.
||Focus Externally as Well as Internally:
your companyís financials, operations, sales and marketing efforts
is only half the story. Comparing yourself to your competition and
understanding the impact of marketplace trends will give you the rest.
Compile a list of factors that are important in your industry to
determine the metrics by which to measure your performance. Since more
information is available internally, your internal performance metrics
will be different from your external.
||Consider Non-Organic Ways to Grow: Acquisition
can be an ideal way to grow, but you need to evaluate what type of
company is a good fit with yours. Be precise about how the target
company adds value to your enterprise and what the necessary
benchmarks are to capitalize value. Make sure the acquisition target
lines up with your overall business strategy and available capital.
Other ways of gaining a marketplace advantage: team up with another
company and form a joint venture or strategic alliance. Relationships
such as these are easier to both implement and end.
||Move From Micro-Management to
owners often have trouble letting go and turning matters over to
subordinates. But itís critical that you do so, because you canít
do everything yourself. No matter how good you are, you donít have
the expertise to do it all.
Delegate responsibilities and tasks to appropriate staff. Communicate
critical and actionable information. Cross-pollinate solutions or
ideas among the staff.
||Make Strategic Use of Outside Advisors:
donít need to navigate unfamiliar waters alone. Put together a good
board of advisers, and youíll create a powerful asset that can make
a huge difference when you need to get objective advice, scout the
marketplace, gauge future trends, seek new strategic positions, have
introductions made or build repeat customers. They can advise,
evaluate and play devilís advocate. You should also consult your
lawyer, accountant, banker, peers and others whose judgment you trust.
||Reap the Rewards of Technology: You
can improve your business through access to timely, critical
information about performance. And itís equally important that you
identify and seize technology-enabled opportunities that help you
reduce costs and increase productivity. Use relationship-management
systems that integrate information to better serve customers, improve
cash flow and promote cross-selling. Make sure your systems can be
integrated with each other and are both scaleable and flexible.
||Protect Intellectual Property: Products,
technologies, business methods, patents, trademarks, copyrights and
other forms of intellectual property can significantly enhance a
company's ability to secure and defend sources of marketplace
advantage, even in times of rapid technological change. Intellectual
property is a means of creating a proprietary, defensible market
||Manage Risk Through Insurance: Just being in business is risky. A fire could
destroy your inventory, records and building. A flood could cause
thousands of dollars' worth of damageÖthe list of potential
catastrophes businesses face is virtually endless. Since you canít
eliminate risk, you have to manage it by insuring your company with
general liability and property coverage, an umbrella policy,
automobile insurance (if you own and operate commercial vehicles),
professional liability, life insurance, workers' compensation,
business interruption insurance and destroyed or damaged records