As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently hired on as an investment partner & strategist for a concrete countertops construction biz in Charlotte, NC. I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited about it…
My main task for the last two months has been helping my partner (and the owner of the company) build a solid growth plan and marketing strategy for the next two years. I’ve learned a lot in the process, and as promised I’m giving you access to my brain here in this blog. Most of what I’m about to share is stuff I already knew from my previous experiences, but I think (and hope) you’ll find it valuable if you’re trying to build a business of your own.
Also, since this is a blog post, I’m going to keep it brief. These are just some basic steps to building a solid growth plan and marketing strategy for your start-up that should help you get going. But once you do get going, if you’d like additional help, feel free to leave a comment below this post with any questions.
1. Begin with the end in mind. This requires that you think ahead, and it’s a vital first step for any large project. Identify what your goals are, write them down and create deadlines to keep you moving forward. You may want to start by answering questions for yourself such as:
- Where do I want to be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?
- What is my goal for profit in year 1, 2, 5, 10, etc.?
With specific goals and deadlines in place, you’ll be much more motivated to stay the course. Without a specific path, you’re more likely to veer off and end up right back where you started.
In our case, we are starting with concrete countertops right now. Our goal is to add at least 5 new services and projects to our portfolio each year, outside of just countertops.
2. Identify your target market(s). Who is your audience and who are you looking to help by offering the services you’re offering? Be as specific and as descriptive as possible, using criteria such as age, gender, location and income to help you identify exactly who it is you want to appeal to when marketing your products and services.
For concrete countertops — at least in our case — the target is mid-to-high-income male or female homeowners and/or business owners who are looking to renovate their space.
3. Make a list of marketing tools. Now that you’ve identified your target market(s), you need a way to connect with them. There are various marketing tools that you can utilize, such as a website, social media, list building/email marketing software, local networking groups, lead generation services and more. This is when you should revisit step 1 and think about which tools are most likely going to help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.
We have already built a website and social media pages and just recently hired a lead generation company to help us hit our targets for year one. (See step 5 for more on outsourcing help for your start-up.)
4. Write your budget & plan. Before you can really lay out your plan, you must have a budget in mind. Having a budget will help you avoid unnecessary spend and keep you on target to begin profiting as quickly as possible. This is where a lot of companies go wrong. Of course you have to spend money to make money — that’s a given. But you should be smart about exactly how you spend your money, and having a detailed budget written out will keep you on target and keep you from going broke within the first year.
Once you’ve established a budget, write out a plan that includes your goals, the tools you’ll use, and the timeline for execution. (Another benefit of having a budget is that it can help you determine which tools will be the biggest bang for your buck in helping you meet your goals!)
5. Hire some help. You can’t do this all on your own. Adam (the guy who owns the concrete company) was smart to approach me and get help creating the growth strategy for his business, and I’d encourage all business owners to outsource help wherever possible. If you can’t afford to hire people, there are other options. You could offer an unpaid internship, or you could offer a percentage of sales and/or equity. Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to hiring help.
Make sure you include additional employees in your budget. If you do this right, your business will begin to grow at a rapid pace, and you’ll need more people to help you do the things you’re not so good at. There’s a danger in thinking you’re good at everything and can do it all. I see so many executives screw themselves over time and time again by thinking they need to control everything. Like all of us who are human, you have weaknesses. Recognize what they are and seek help from others who are stronger than you in those areas and can help you fill in those gaps. Even if that means giving up equity — wouldn’t you rather have 50% of something than 100% of nothing?
There you have it. A quick 5-step reference guide to get you on track. Now go out there and build your business! And let us know how these tips work for you by leaving a comment below.