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Surround yourself with a great team: How SMEs can grow their business

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Whether you have grand plans to triple your revenue within the next 12 months or you would simply like to grow steadily over the next few years, you’ll likely need to invest in your business to reach your goal.

But how can you invest in your business to maximise your growth? While there’s no magic formula that will work for every business, it does help to listen to those who’ve “been there, done that” and those with specialist expertise in small business growth.

So, we’ve done some ground work for you here, SmartCompany spoke with a small business owner and business growth expert who have shared their insights on growing a small business.

Start small and don’t overcomplicate things

Aromababy Natural Skincare founder and managing director Catherine Cervasio recommends initially focusing growth efforts on an area that is “manageable and doesn’t require enormous risk.”

“If you’re looking to grow geographically (export, for example) perhaps don’t also grow your product range at the same time and vice versa,” Cervasio says.

Before growing, also make sure you’ve got the business essentials covered – protect your intellectual property and make sure your target market is matched with your product, for example.

Cervasio also recommends outsourcing where possible. “It’s important to understand your own strengths and passion,” she says.

“Do what you do best and invest in areas of your business where you either lack skill or enthusiasm.”

Growing bigger (and bigger)

Since launching Aromababy in 1994, Cervasio says she’s found the most need to invest in her business in the last decade.

“I took out a loan to restructure and provide capital to help us fund growth last year. We saw opportunity to take on China as a new market and needed to invest in carrying more stock, participating in trade shows offshore, updating our website and hiring a Chinese staff member.”

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With bigger goals, it’s important to be patient. Hiring staff and investing in trade shows are things that don’t bring an immediate boost, and investing in higher stock levels can also be fraught with risk, says Cervasio. Careful planning and vision are required.

Business owner or self-employed?

HerBusiness CEO Suzi Dafnis says what keeps your small business small (and also vulnerable) is being reliant on your own talents, time and energy, to grow the business. She recommends shifting your thinking from being self-employed to “putting your CEO hat on and deliberately building a team.”

Build that team – even it means starting with one virtual staff member, says Dafnis. “Implement systems, plan, and leverage funds to get the right equipment and resources in place so that you can do more with less.”

Build a support team

Building a support team is a critical part of your growth journey, Dafnis says. “In interviewing successful business owners for over 23 years, one thing that I’ve found is that they consistently surround themselves with great people.”

Aim for building lasting and genuine relationships with “people who are going through the same things as you, have likely found solutions that you’re looking for, and totally ‘get’ you and your entrepreneurial drive.”

The sweet spot, she says, “is deliberately building a community, a network around you that will support you, refer business, be there for you at the high and low points.”

There are many ways to invest in your small business and grow – from hiring staff to developing staff training, moving to new premises, buying more stock or equipment. As we’ve seen, it’s also important to build a support team and develop a growth mindset.

The information provided in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information in this article, National Australia Bank Limited (ABN 12 004 044 937, AFSL and Australian Credit License 230686) (NAB) recommends you consider whether it is appropriate for your objectives, financial situation and needs. NAB recommends that you seek independent advice before acting on any information in this article.

 
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As Australia’s largest business bank, we back small to medium business across every stage of their lifecycle.