3 Keys to Achieve Success and Grow Your Business

Most of us can probably agree there’s nothing better than seeing people thrive. And, lucky for me, that’s my job: As AIA’s SVP of Owner Success, I get to help the people around me be successful.

What does that mean? Every single day, it’s my responsibility to proactively provide the support and resources our team of more than 300 Owners needs to grow their business. In other words, my team and I partner with AIA’s community of entrepreneurs to optimize the way they run their businesses to drive sales.

As you can imagine, throughout the course of a 25-year career, I’ve learned a lot about what we can and should be doing to achieve our goals. It’s actually pretty simple; there’s a basic formula to follow that will help you move closer towards what you want to accomplish.  

I promise you this, success will only happen if you do all of these things. Truly, you can’t have one without the other.

1. Start with the right mindset.

Self-improvement begins with a goal or vision. You have to really want it in order to achieve it. If someone doesn’t desire change, then they’re not going to get very far. AIA’s CEO, Matt Gresge, is a big proponent of “what we think is what we become” and he even detailed a roadmap for achieving your goals.

2. Develop a reasonable plan.

Establish where you want to be in one year and five years. Whatever your goals are, block out time in your schedule to think through them and actually map them out. Put one or two action items in place—for every quarter—that directly contribute to these goals.

3. Stay committed to seeing your plan through.

Accountability is key. I make a point to remind people that vision without execution or commitment is hallucination. Continually prioritize your goals and find ways to work towards them. Accomplishing small goals on a regular basis will eventually add up, and you’ll slowly and steadily move in the direction of those bigger goals.

While this might sound easy enough, life happens. With competing priorities, we get busy and sidetracked, then we start to lose momentum and may abandon our goals altogether.

No matter if you’re a sole proprietor or operate with an assistant, support team, salesperson or sales force, the good news is that you can quickly get back on track. Assuming you meet the three criteria outlined above, consider implementing these proven strategies to improve performance and begin growing your SMB today.

  • Know the value of your time.

At times, it can be more cost-effective to bring in specialists to support the business, which frees you up to do exactly what you do best. This could be an admin, billing coordinator, salesperson and/or accountant—in a part-time or full-time capacity based on need. Calculate your hourly rate by dividing gross margin by the number of hours you work in a given year. Is it possible to pay someone less than your hourly rate to do the same work or is that person an expert in their field and can do the work in less time?

  • When it comes to prospecting, pursue more of the same.

The numbers tell you exactly what you need to know. Analyze your sales data to determine the type of customer you’re most successful with. Think through the reasons why you’ve found success with this segment. Rather than casting a wide net and seeing whom you catch, it’s more efficient to focus your sales efforts on identifying, targeting and ultimately attracting more of this particular customer.

  • Track inactive accounts.

Old customers aren’t necessarily lost. Set your calendar (quarterly, bi-annually) to review which have not purchased recently, stopped purchasing altogether or those you may not have spoken with/seen lately. Then, consider reconnecting through a phone call or lunch invitation (for smaller customers) or initiating a marketing campaign to get back in front of them (for bigger customers).

  • Distinguish between what you are selling—and what you’re not.

Upselling or selling deeper is a potential avenue for growth. While your sales may be strong in one area and, naturally, you intend to continue endorsing that product(s) with customers, it’s important to use analytics to understand the full picture. In addition to looking at your SMB’s top-selling items, examine popular products that your peers’/competitors’ customers are buying. It’s possible your customers could also benefit from this assortment, and may not be aware such items exist or realize how these items can promote their business.

Of course, it’s one thing to talk about these activities, and another to actually do them. At AIA, we put these tips into practice every day. For example, we help Owners utilize sales planning tools to optimize profit margins and business intelligence tools to inform their marketing efforts. As a result, Owners work smarter and have more time to build their business.

I’m all ears: Tell me how you’re doing. There’s really no limit to how much we can learn from each other. If you’ve found success growing your SMB, I’d love to hear more about how you did it. What worked for you along the way, and what didn’t? You’re welcome to comment on this article or message me your lessons learned. Thanks for sharing!

As Senior Vice President of Owner Success for AIA Corporation, Kimberly Fulford leads the Success Management, Marketing and Service and Delivery teams that directly support the company’s network of 300 Owners with individualized coaching and business development resources to help them realize significant growth.