By Vida Barr, Barr Jones Associates

All business owners want to see their businesses grow and prosper. Once a business starts to really grow, business owners take the big step of hiring staff and putting processes in place to keep the business on track. It is at this point that strategic management is critical if your business is to move to the next level.

At Barr Jones Associates, I work with a wide range of businesses providing strategic management advice and thought leadership to businesses who want to take their growth to the next level. These seven areas are critical to business success and by using these as part of a comprehensive coaching programme I work with them to achieve business success.

1. Conduct a business audit: Knowing the worth of your business is at the heart of everything that you do as you grow. A proper business audit will look at the finances of your business, both past and current, to help understand the effectiveness of your financial operations. A management audit looks more widely at the business and aims to spot potential managerial problems. There may be a need to change certain procedures in the business to adapt it as it grows – often business owners are so involved in their business that they don’t spot these.

2. Plan a strategy: As part of your business planning you must define your business objectives as a first step in developing your business strategy going forward. Plan a vision and a mission statement for your business and set yourself goals and timescales in which to complete them. Really drill down into your business and analyse what works well and what doesn’t work well. You can use this knowledge as the basis of your plan going forward.

3. Understanding your Brand: Creating a good brand is about connecting with your audience. If you already have branding, are you sure it works? Focus groups with stakeholders, customers and employees can help to get an outsider’s view of your brand and whether it is really right for your business.

4. Marketing is key: All forms of communication are vital to a good marketing strategy. How are you communicating with your chosen target audiences? One channel is not enough – you need to be thinking about blogs, e-shots, brochures, editorial, websites and social media in your marketing mix. Good marketing is at the heart of all successful businesses.

5. Consider your telemarketing and campaign management: A key part of growing your business is to qualify leads so your time is spent on identifying prospects and customers who really are interested in your business. Think about areas of your business that are most profitable and concentrate on bringing in leads and prospects that fit into that sector. Think also about the size of business you want to deal with – don’t chase the work down to the smallest client – chase it up the chain to those clients worth the most to you.

6. Corporate and contract accounts: As your business grows bigger, you will want to start tendering for contracts if you have not already started doing so. Making sure you know how to produce a winning tender is a real art. Although content is important, presentation and clarity are also key. Remember that the client will have a big pile of documents to go through and anything that makes yours stand out will help. A slick professional finish will help give your tender the edge.

7. Leverage your sales force as strongly as possible: A strong sales force can really help set a business on the right course. Make sure you invest in your sales team – provide good training, use incentives and ensure that they are well trained and won’t let the business down.