Grow Your Business by the Numbers

14158_056One of the most effective ways to achieve business growth is to make growth a priority and set corresponding goals. If you don’t manage your business by the numbers, you are putting it at risk and limiting your growth potential.

Here’s a quick test: Ask yourself if you know what your revenues were for the past three months or what you think your revenues will be for the next three. Do you know the answer?

How about this: Ask yourself how many customers you’ve had in the same time period. Can you identify the repeat customers and those who were new to your pipeline? Do you know how much it cost to get their business? How about your costs for goods sold?

This is only a sampling of the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself to gather the information you will need to effectively run your business. Knowing the answers will put you in control and enable you to grow more intentionally. [Read more…]

It’s a business, treat it accordingly

Guest Blog Post by Laurie Breitner

Laurie BreitnerPeople frequently go into business to do — and, hopefully, make money at — what they are passionate about. Like the massage therapist who got her start in her kitchen formulating oils, creams and lotions because the market did not offer the quality products she wanted to use in her practice; the mechanical engineers building wind turbines to bring reliable, renewable energy to hard to reach places; and the second generation business owner caring for her family’s legacy.

Spending your days doing what you love is a wonderful ideal but the reality of small business ownership is often a far cry from that, not that there aren’t significant emotional and financial paybacks. But make no mistake. If you want to make money, treat it like a business with all that implies.

Each of us has activities that we enjoy (and feel confident and competent to do), and those we don’t — it’s human nature. Too often business owners are taken aback by the range of competencies and experiences needed to ensure business success. Significant difficulties can ensue when business owners put off or just don’t do the essential tasks (whether too difficult or too mundane) that help ensure long-term success. [Read more…]

The Lean Launchpad… It’s Not Just for Startups

Guest Blog Post By Karen UtgoffKaren Utgoff, Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting

For an established small business, introducing significant new products or services or entering new markets can be very difficult and uncertain. Traditional approaches to these significant growth initiatives require substantial additional work on the part of owners/employees as well as significant time and money before there is any clear indication of success; many business owners avoided these efforts because of the uncertainties and for fear of “upsetting the applecart.” However, ignoring them could put your business at risk from disruptive trends in markets, technologies, or customer needs and jeopardize your business’ long-term value. That’s why it’s important to make room for entrepreneurial activity in addition to business as usual.

While the Lean Launchpad methodology was developed to help technology startups find their product/market fit efficiently, it would be a mistake to dismiss it as only for startups. That said a new external venture is different from an internal venture within a successfully operating business. To adapt the methodology to an existing business, I have previously suggested a New Venture Manifesto for Small Businesses that parallels Steve Blank’s Customer Development Manifesto. [Read more…]

Business Growth Center Expands Programming for Existing Entrepreneurs

GRANT AWARDED FOR STRONGER BUSINESS™ PROGRAM

SPRINGFIELD ─ The Business Growth Center at Springfield Technology Park has received a grant from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) to help underserved or disadvantaged business owners in the Pioneer Valley grow, or stabilize, their enterprises. The funds will enable the Center to continue its Stronger Businesses Program™, starting Oct. 7, and supplement funding for its staff.

This is the second time the Business Growth Center has received this MGCC grant for the Stronger Businesses Program™, which focuses on businesses with fewer than 20 employees. An assistant program manager will also be added to its staff who will support the Center’s Growth Advisory Program and seminars.

The grant is part of the MGCC’s 2015 Small Business Assistance Grants Program, which is designed to complement and enhance the traditional public and private small business assistance network. The Business Growth Center is one of 30 organizations statewide to receive 25 grants, and the only one in Hampden and Hampshire counties, to receive funding from the MGCC. [Read more…]

Raising Businesses in the Village

Marla Michel, director of The Business Growth Center

Marla Michel, director of The Business Growth Center, on mentoring and growing businesses

You’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, the same can be said about raising a business.

Business owners don’t know everything, but society seems to expect they should. Instead, they need society, this “village” – their families, friends, community members and even strangers – to help them succeed.

People start a business because they excel at something or have a passion for a product or service, and they dream of being their own boss. Then, they learn quickly that they need more than passion and energy. They need to know record keeping, insurance management, inventory oversight, marketing and, maybe one of the hardest areas to master, human resources rules and regulations.

Western Mass business owners need to be leaders, managers, salespeople and the overseers of countless details. Fortunately, The Business Growth Center offers them many resources so they can learn the skills that will truly allow them to grow their businesses. [Read more…]