Managing Small Business Growth

With small businesses representing 99% of Michigan businesses, it’s no wonder that they form the backbone of Michigan’s economy and that their growth is critical to the state’s economic health.

Most owners will tell you it’s one thing to start a small business. It’s another to scale it.  Whether you’re trying to reach a revenue goal, hoping to hire a bigger sales team, looking to expand facilities, or just exploring growth opportunities, you’re going to face hurdles. And, inevitably, you’re going to need help to overcome them, especially if you’re one of hundreds of second stage Michigan small businesses, which are those that meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Two years or more in business;
  • $1 million or more in annual sales;
  • 10 or more employees.

Five issues that stand in the way of small business growth.

The reality is, it’s tough to drive small business growth when you’re the person in charge. You’re not just the boss; you’re a worker. While you still take pride in the day-to-day operations of your Michigan business startup, there are dozens of details and responsibilities that go into small business growth. Here are just some of the critical, big picture issues you need to address as you learn how to grow your small business:

  1. Cash flow. Having enough money to pay your staff and vendors (and yourself) is one thing. To attract investors who will fuel your small business expansion, you need a healthy cash flow that shows long-term potential. 
  2. Competition. First, you need to know who your competitors are. Then you need to know what they do and what differentiates them. This applies, of course, not only to your current competitors but also to competitors in the new markets you hope to enter. 
  3. Marketing. Ineffective or insufficient marketing is detrimental to  any small business. Not surprisingly, strong, well-funded marketing is one of the essentials to any plans for small business growth. 
  4. Strategy. Simply stated, small business growth requires a plan. If you don’t have the expertise or time to develop and manage small-business growth strategies, your growth goals can be even more difficult to reach. 
  5. Recruitment. Until machines rule the world, every Michigan small business is a people business. To grow your Michigan business startup, you need top talent and a way to find, train and retain them.

How we help second stage Michigan small businesses.

The Michigan SBDC Growth Team offers no-cost consulting for second stage small businesses.

In fact, over the past several years, our highly skilled small business growth consultants have helped hundreds of small businesses accelerate growth at a healthy pace across the state of Michigan.

As you juggle the responsibilities and challenges of running your Michigan small business, our consultants will help you reach your short-term and long-term goals with services that empower you to meet the challenges to small business growth, head on.

Michigan SBDC consulting services can cover critical guidance on financing, revenue generation, and reporting; innovative thinking on strengthening sales and marketing; and ideas for your workforce, human resources and organizational development. We’ll help you tap into the growing import-export market for Michigan small businesses, walk you through scenarios that help identify areas in which your business can grow, review federal grants and contract proposals, and help you prepare for and work with lenders. We even can help you think ahead to your own transition or eventual exit from your small business.

Two programs to help your small business grow.

Our Focus Four™ proprietary program combines lessons from top business minds and the collective knowledge of our small business consultants and clients to help you integrate and align the four pillars of business success: vision, strategy, execution and cashflow. The goal: help your small business grow faster, grow smoothly, and boost profitability. Our Focus Four Field Guide (e-book) and associated toolkit are available at no-cost and without obligation.

We’ve partnered with the Value Builder™ system.  Value Builder measures your Michigan small business’s value and identifies areas for improvement. It’s a powerful small business consulting tool that helps fuel small business growth by:

  • Diagnosing what may be holding you back from creating a small business that can fully thrive without you.
  • Showing you how a potential buyer or investor would evaluate your Michigan small business.
  • Identifying the hidden issues that may drag down your small business’s value.
  • Pinpointing the part of your small business that’s most attractive to potential buyers and investors.

By the numbers: How we help Michigan small businesses grow.

In 2023, the Michigan SBDC Growth Team, with eight subject matter experts, through 4,900 small-business consulting hours helped 475 unique Michigan small business clients meet the challenges of second stage small business growth. The results:

  • $27 million in revenue
  • $20 million in capital formation

To be connected with a Growth Team consultant, sign up for consulting here.

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