According to Jay Abraham, there are 9 drivers of business growth.
I was clearing out some of the clutter and old paperwork in my office yesterday and I uncovered Jay's leaflet entitled 'Nine Drivers'. It seemed more interesting than tidying my office so I had a quick read.
I thought that I would list them here and see how I am applying them to my own business.
I would say that for at least the last 10 years or so I have dedicated myself to the study of marketing.
Initially, I would study materials and books from people like Jay Abraham and Dan Kennedy before I dedicated myself to the study of internet marketing.
Improving traffic and conversions has huge upside leverage in a business.
You can harness this leverage by studying the competitors in your industry and by borrowing best practice from other industries.
I regard marketing as critically important to any business - so much so that I have specialised in this particular area even though I started out specialising in finance.
Strategy is simply having a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve and then plotting a course from where you are now to where you want to be.
My vision was to have a business that I could operate from home (- no commute -), with low overheads, no staff, no stock, no debts or creditors, which could operate anywhere I chose to live and I could easily supplement my income or pension with the profits.
I wanted freedom and independence above wealth but I wanted sufficient money to live a fulfilling lifestyle.
I wanted to create products rather to offer a service so I could point to this or that and say that this is my work and improved other people's lives.
My business is the creation of digital information products and websites that convert into leads and sales.
As a former banker, I understand the importance of capital. Ironically, my business does not require a lot of capital or indeed working capital as money is not tied up in debtors or stock.
Capital is required for a few simple tools, training and advertising. Whilst the business is not capital intensive, I calculate that I have spent a small-fortune on these items over the last 6 years to get to the position I am now.
Very few tools have withstood the test of time and I have tested and abandoned more tools than I care to mention.
I have purchased and studied literally hundreds of digital training programmes in trying to find a better business model before realising that there is really only a handful of business models which have given rise to countless nuanced variations.
Capital and cash-flow is nevertheless vital even though I don't require a lot of it to run my business.
Advertising is the one area where it is useful to have access to capital so that you can increase your spend when you discover a system that works - capital enables you to scale up quickly.
There are a lot of business models in internet marketing. I started by pursuing consulting with offline businesses before switching more to creating and selling information products.
My current business model now includes both of these areas and some affiliate marketing.
This is really a bit too spread. Initially, it is important to focus on just one area and get really good at one thing rather than trying to do too many things.
This also means that you should focus on a particular niche before spreading you wings.
For example, if you are building websites for offline businesses, it is better to specialise in building websites for architects than just being a web designer who creates websites for any business.
My business model simple, product creation, list building/email marketing and traffic generation. I also do websites for local businesses as one-off projects.
Relationships are also critical to business growth. I quickly realised this when I left the corporate world in 2001.
My skills did not translate easily to the entrepreneurial world but my consulting business survived simply by doing work for businesses with which I already had a relationship.
It soon became apparent that relationships were the major asset that I had at the time of leaving corporate employment.
(Relationships were also the reason that I could not continue in my former job because I did not think that my employers strategy was in the best interests of my customers.)
In business you need to build relationships with key stakeholders like investors, staff, suppliers, customers , advisors etc - your relationships will have a direct impact on the growth of your business.
Greece have recently discovered that creating friction in their relationships with the EU has had a dire impact on the deal they were able to cut for their bail-out.
Distribution channels include my list, my list of affiliates, my access to platforms like Clickbank, JV Zoo, Warrior Plus etc through which I sell my products and also my social media accounts and blog.
Having multiple distribution channels is a great way to increase the growth of your business so you need to work on strategically increasing the scope and cover of your distribution channels.
Your Products & Services
I've always been an advocate of having a spread of products and services i.e. do not have all your eggs in one basket.
However, I have also seen spectacular successes from businesses that choose to focus on one product or service in order to be the absolute best in the industry.
For example, if you create websites for local architects, you can ether choose to extend your geographical area or you can extend the range of services offered to your architect customers e.g. offer SEO or social media marketing.
Alternatively, you could extend your systems for providing websites to professionals that are similar to architects - accountants, lawyers, consultants, coaches etc.
Can you create systems and license or sell them to others to use?
Systems & Processes
To quote from Nine Drivers:
Every business mechanism can be broken down into it's driving processes and sub-processes. Once you figure out what the processes driving an activity are, they can be measured, they can be quantified and they can be vastly improved.
Two great books to read on this topic are 'The E-Myth Revisited' by Michael Gerber and 'Work The System' by Sam Carpenter.
Creating systems enables you to scale your business by delegating and it also creates a business that is not so reliant on you, the business owner, which means that you are creating a saleable asset.
Systems and processes enable you to grow a business safely. I like to use mind-maps to document my systems.
This is our belief system, values and mindset. A change in any of these areas can also change our prospects for growth.
I met a consultant in 2002 who had sold his business for £49m who attributed 85% of success to having the correct mindset.
Mindset and ideology can be the limiting factor to the growth of our businesses but it's probably not an area that most business owners acknowledge or pay attention to!
My free product 'The Sky Inside' was specifically created with a view to changing my mindset, and that of my customers, for the better.
These 9 drivers of growth will either make or break our business and it is worth evaluating it in each of these areas.