This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 15/01/2018.
How will business take advantage of Croydon’s changes?
Looking out of the iconic 50p building next to East Croydon, I can see the skyline changing quickly.
The renovation of Fairfield Halls is to my left, with Boxpark and Ruskin Square in front of me and the Tower on Saffron Square to my right, a lot has changed in the last two years. With construction due to start in early 2019 for the long-awaited Westfield development, the change continues apace. At ground level, Croydon has one of the fastest growing local economies in the country. Our tech sector is booming!
What are you doing to ensure that your business both survives the changes and flourishes?
At this point, you have two options:
- Fly by the seat of your pants and see what happens
- Make a plan
Personally, I’d recommend the latter.
What do you want to achieve?
Are you looking to achieve world domination in the next five years? Do you want to be acquired in the next two years, or do you simply want to generate a comfortable income? Whatever you want for your business, the first step is to put that stake in the ground: I want to achieve x in 2018. Without something to aim at, how can you plan to achieve that goal?
Is your goal SMART?
We would all love to double our business in 2018, but is that a SMART goal?
Specific: What is going to double? In this case, would it be turnover, profit, staff numbers, customer numbers?
Measurable: To know you’ve achieved your goal, you have to be able to measure it. Your accounts system will give you most of the numbers you want; just ensure that you have the right tools to measure current a future performance around your goal.
Achievable: Unachievable targets will demotivate your team. Achievable ones will motivate and drive your team.
Realistic: What have you done over the last few years? If you’ve grown by 10% a year for the last 2-3 years, perhaps your target this year should be 25% so that it is more inline with previous performance.
Timed: From 1st January to 31st December or during your financial year? A goal isn’t a goal without a deadline to work to.
What does that entail?
How much work is involved in achieving your goal and what does that mean to the business? Let’s look at an example.
If you wanted to double your business next year, what does that mean?
- How many more clients does that mean?
- How many more staff do you need to service that growth? How much will that add to costs?
- Do you need a bigger office space to accommodate the planned growth? When will you have to move? I know that Sussex Innovation has given bigger offices to companies with growth plans, so that growth can happen faster.
- How much marketing do you need to do to double your client base?
- What skills and resources are needed that you don’t have within your business at the moment?
Can you commit to this?
Making a change to the business means adding more work, at least in the short term, onto your shoulders and those of the people who work with you. Is that feasible?
It’s often simple to say ‘yes’ when you’re sitting down and planning in quiet room, but what happens when you get busy? Will you put off work for your clients so that work on your business gets done? ‘I’ll just do it after all the client work is done’, I hear you say, but when was the last time there was no client work to do?
Do you need help?
Recognising you need a hand to achieve your goals isn’t a weakness. Do you believe that Neil Hammerton grew Natterbox to the success it is without getting someone to help him? How about all the recent winners at the Croydon Business Awards? Do you think they did this alone? Nobody is excellent at everything, and you’re better getting help in early, rather than late.
The Croydon business community is well known for helping each other. Croydon Tech City has been helping early stage tech businesses for years now. Croydon Chamber of Commerce is a thriving community of small businesses. Being based in the Sussex Innovation Centre has been great for my business. I’ve used their mentoring support and their Catalyst Team to help my business and my clients, as well as working with other members. I know that other spaces, such as TMRW, encourage their members to work together to support each other.
This is just the tip of the iceberg; there is all of the support that you need available to you in the town. All that you have to do is ask.
What’s stopping you?
To plan for 2018, you need just four things:
- Time: set aside a day (yes, a whole day) to plan what you want to achieve in 2018 and what that entails.
- Peace: your phone and laptop are great tools, but they have the ability to distract and sidetrack you. Leave them somewhere away from where you do your planning.
- A sounding board: someone independent of the business who you can bounce your thoughts and ideas off of. Someone in your network maybe? They are not there to say yay or nay, but to challenge your thinking and, maybe, point out things you haven’t thought of.
- Commitment: if you commit to your plan, you are far more likely to achieve your goals.
Croydon isn’t the same town it was at the end of 2016; it won’t be the same as it is now at the end of 2018. The question is: what is your business going to look like at the end of 2018? I hope this helps.