Now it’s one thing to start an online business but growing the business is where the true business challenge lies.
I have started and grown several online businesses from scratch with little or no money. I believe in running a business on a lean budget.
1. Focus on the business mission
The first strategic step to growing your small online business on a lean budget is to focus on fulfilling your business mission. On the entrepreneurial journey to growing your business, I will advise you start from the business mission. Why?
“The thing I really care about is the mission; making the world open.” – Mark Zuckerberg
The reason is that the business mission is where the entrepreneurial spirit dwells. It’s the heart of the business; it’s core. Most importantly, your business mission is the reason why your business exists.
2. Develop a challenging vision
I will advise you set challenging goals; goals that will force you out of your comfort zone. Don’t develop a vision you are comfortable with; develop a vision that makes you uncomfortable, develop a business vision that forces you to use your critical thinking skills.
3. Reposition your business team
“Bringing together the right information with the right people will dramatically improve a company’s ability to develop and act on strategic business opportunities.” – Bill Gates
The third key to growing your small online business from scratch on a lean budget is to reposition your business team. To grow your business, the right people have to be in the right position.
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your business team and delegate duties to them according to their strength. If there is a weak chain in your business management team; consider bringing someone in to fill the gap. A strong business management team is essential to business growth.
4.Emphasize the need for speed, effectiveness and efficiency
Are your employees aware of the need for your business to grow? Are they aligned with your business mission? Do they understand the vision? These are questions you must put to rest.
“The most important ‘speed’ issue is often not technical but cultural. It’s convincing everyone that the company’s survival depends on everyone moving as fast as possible.” – Bill Gates
5. Strengthen your business internally
What is internal growth? Internal business growth entails strengthening your bottom line, improving your employee’s effectiveness and machine’s efficiency. It may also mean repositioning your business team and automating your business processes. Once a business effectively grows internally, growing externally will be seamless.
6. Keep an eye on the cash flow
“Cash never makes us happy. It’s better to have the money burning a hole in Berkshire’s pocket than resting comfortably in someone else’s.” – Warren Buffett
Cash flow is the lifeblood of business. Remember that you are growing on a lean budget, so every penny has to be accounted for. You must know your numbers and above all, you must know your financial position at all times.
“The most important word in the world of money is cash flow. The second most important word is leverage.” – Rich Dad
7. Take care of your customers and encourage word of mouth
“Focus on your customers and lead your people as though their lives depend on your success.” – Warren Buffett
While growing internally, you can instigate external business growth by taking care of your customers and encouraging word of mouth. Customers are the reason you are in business so make sure they are not ignored during your growth process.
“The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” – Jeff Bezos
8. Go strict with employee performance evaluation
So you want to grow your small business on a lean budget? Then you must maximize every resource at your disposal, leaving no room for inefficiency and waste. You must also evaluate your employee’s performance rate at regular intervals and any employee that doesn’t meet your standard should be fired.
9. Seek strategic alliance
“Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.” – Bill Gates
Forming a strategic alliance is an effective way to grow big, while still remaining small. Look within your neighbourhood first for opportunities to form strategic alliances and if you can’t find any; create one.
10. Focus on the core and outsource the rest
If there’s any secret to growing a small business from scratch on a lean budget; then it’s definitely outsourcing. Outsourcing is the reason my entire business keeps growing; yet, I remain small. To the outside world, my business size is still the same but on the inside; my profit is doubling.
11. Re-invest the profits
Growing on a lean budget requires you re-invest every single profit into the business. Re-investing profits is essential to business growth.
12. Stick to the process; keep growing
The last but not the least step to growing a small business is to stick to the process. Building a successful business is not an overnight process; it’s a process that takes time and requires persistent. To stick it through to the end of the process, you need to see the big picture of where you are heading to; you need to envision the end point of that process.
“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Ray Kroc