Being successful is about realising you cannot spin all the plates all the time. It’s important to step back, regroup and think strategically about what you have achieved and what you now need to be prioritising, argues Paul Fileman.
The first thing you need to be doing is looking at how you can carve out some breathing space; you need to step off the day-to-day treadmill of just running the business and take time to consider the bigger picture of where you are going and what it is you are looking to achieve.
At a practical level this might be something as simple as hiring a bookkeeper so there’s one less thing to be doing late at night. Or it might be delegating more responsibility to your team so you are actually managing rather than always feeling you need to step in.
To my mind, an effective strategy for growth needs to include the following five steps:
1. Ask yourself what your goals are, what it is you want to achieve
You need to have a very clear idea as to why it is you are trying to grow the business (as if you don’t know no one else is going to).
- What are your goals here?
- Is it so, ultimately, you will be able to sell up and fund your retirement?
- Is the aim to build it into a chain?
- Or is your ambition just to have something that give you enough of an income to be comfortable?
- The decisions you make will, inevitably, be coloured by what you see as your final destination for the business.
2. Take time to look around you
Look at the influences on your business –
- The business’ strengths and weaknesses,
- Your local (and wider) competition,
- Any regulatory issues or constraints,
- The availability of staff,
- Your access to funding and so on.
- Are parking restrictions an issue,
- Are there planning decisions in the pipeline that might be going to affect you,
- How healthy is your local high street
- Might you, even, need to think about relocating?
3. Formulate timed, stepped strategies
You do not necessarily need a different strategy for each goal, but you do need a plan that is clearly laid out, with targets and all linked to a manageable, realistic timeframe. So it might be the steps you intend to take over the next year, beyond just day-to- day organic turnover, to grow sales, improve your marketing, refresh your premises, skill-up staff and so on.
4. Develop from here “breakout” strategies
Design projects that people can get working on, tasks both for you the owner and ones that your staff can do or take responsibility for.
You may not, of course, wish to share all your business goals. But you will at some point need to start sharing information with your senior team, your stylists and so on. It might be a project to take the salon upmarket, reach out to a new client demographic, create a new feel or ambience or new ways to promote the business locally or more widely.
The important thing is to end up with a list of projects, but definitely fewer than 10, that you but, just as importantly, your staff can lead or drive. This will help to engage and motivate the team and create “buy in” but also mean it won’t all fall on your shoulders; if you have too many projects on the go at once you can just end up giving up.
For example, it might be you conclude the answer is something as straightforward as simply needing to recruit a new stylist.
But, rather than just assuming this will all fall to you, look at how that’s going to work from the salon team perspective. Yes, you’ll probably be the one who makes the decision to hire, but who is going to help you with training, learning, and development and support? Can someone on the team, apart from you, become their mentor?
5. Feedback, review, control
Finally, whatever project or initiative you put in place it is vital to put in place a process of review and feedback so you, and your team, can learn from it and improve.
It is important to be prepared to go back and work through the numbers and understand when something is working, working better than expected (and so perhaps needs to be expanded) or not meeting expectations and so it’s time to cut your losses.