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Expert Advice for High-Growth Businesses

SMB Expansion Challenges and How to Fix Them

In a recent survey, What’s Keeping America’s SMB Leaders Up at Night, we asked small- and medium-sized business (SMB) owners and executives were asked to identify the key business issues causing them to lose sleep at night. “Expansion challenges” was one of the respondents’ top answers—and this is understandable. After all, as your SMB grows and evolves, you’re constantly faced with new concerns and new challenges. 

To learn how SMB leaders can address their obstacles to growth, we asked the Twitter community to weigh in during an Oracle SMB Tweetchat, SMB Expansion Challenges and How to Fix Them.

Here’s what they had to say.

Nearly one-third of survey respondents said “expansion challenges” was their number one business concern. When asked to identify their specific expansion challenges, 42% answered “having the right management team in place for growth.”

So, when building a leadership team, how do you know which positions to fill first and the right time to hire them?

Where are your weaknesses? What aren’t you good at? Hire to make your business stronger. Don’t hire when it’s easier/cheaper to outsource. Hire for positions that affect bottom line. Before hiring, make sure your needs are constant, not seasonal or promotional surges. Too many business owners hire people “just like them.” That’s wrong. You want people who aren’t like you.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Best-Selling Author of Start Your Own Business

Consider hiring someone who will help you shift work and move your business to a higher level. What can you shift?
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

If you see areas where productivity can improve, that’s your cue and you typically start with good leadership candidates. Also knowing if someone you hire isn’t working well with your existing team needs to be top priority.
– Maria Florio (@Luna12780)

Plan and know yourself. What skills are you lacking? What do you not like to do? Where do you want your SMB to be? Ask: what do you need to grow? Better handle on finances? More sales? More profitable sales? More sales channels?
– Christiane Soto (@ChristianeSoto)

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Are there metrics or parameters to identify if you have the right leaders in place to drive business growth?

How are you “moving the needle”? You must constantly monitor what you do. Are you increasing sales? Getting more leads? Track your sales trends. Track your employee turnover. Those are HUGE proverbial canaries in the coal mine.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Best-Selling Author of Start Your Own Business

Solid financial growth is a big measure, so is overall continuous improvement. Are your clients happy? Are you evolving?
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

However you measure your success, be proactive and predictive, instead of reactive.
– @UrbanSuccess

Metrics for the right leaders include positive/excited employee sentiment in the workplace and happy customers.
– Maria Florio (@Luna12780)

Well, growth rate is a biggy. Also, how profitable are you? People are your greatest asset and your greatest expense. A bad people move can cost $$$.
– Christiane Soto (@ChristianeSoto)

Fill in the blank: A business cannot grow, scale, or compete without _______.

The right technology. It can help you understand your customers, your data, and scale your business more quickly.
– Jim Brull (@JimBrull), Managing Partner of Global Cloud Sales, Centroid

Good employees. Adequate cash flow. Updated technology.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Best-Selling Author of Start Your Own Business

A solid plan! Starts with vision, the plan is next. Create an actionable, realistic plan. Plan then execute.
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

A business cannot grow, scale, or compete without heart and empathy in its leadership.
– Kelli Smithgall (@KelliSmithgall)

Customer service. You must deliver a great customer experience before a purchase, during a purchase, and post purchase.
– Peter Schutt (@PeterSchutt1), Senior Product Marketing Director, Oracle

Money, money, and money! Watch your cashflow.
– @UrbanSuccess

A harmonious team and work environment that cooperate effectively together.
– Maria Florio (@Luna12780)

How can SMBs support scalable growth AND keep costs in line?

Technology helps keep costs in line. Software can = numerous employees. Deploying the cloud gives you breadth and depth of coverage, without spending a fortune. Outsource when you can.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Best-Selling Author of Start Your Own Business

Using the latest technology to scale vs. hiring resources allows for more scale and more profit.
– Jim Brull (@JimBrull), Managing Partner of Global Cloud Sales, Centroid

Keeping an eye on metrics can help reduce cost and allow ability to scale.
– John A. Meyer (@JohnAMeyer)

By avoiding to make investments based on chasing after shiny new “objects” that don’t help them grow their business.
– Maria Florio (@Luna12780)

What are the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the marketplace as you grow your business?

Engage. With people in your industry, industry experts, subject matter experts (tech, marketing, etc.). Read. Online and print. And social can help you spread the word on you, your business and your expertise.
– Rieva Lesonsky (@Rieva), Best-Selling Author of Start Your Own Business

Plan to spend a portion of your day reading. I spend time each night catching up on business news and trends.
– Gwendolyn Turner (@GwenFTurner), President, Princeton Proper

Network locally and virtually to always be recruiting customers, employees and suppliers.
– Peter Schutt (@PeterSchutt1), Senior Product Marketing Director, Oracle

Staying on top of industry news, cooperating with peers, and always having the best intentions in mind as your end goal.
– Maria Florio (@Luna12780)

Social media has made it very easy to keep abreast of what’s happening in the marketplace. Follow the right people!
– @UrbanSuccess

The key to staying on top of what’s happening in your marketplace is being proactive. Schedule time for it.
– Brian Moran (@BrianMoran), Award-Winning Business Advisor

Find out how you can grow your business at Oracle OpenWorld. Register today!

 

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