Let’s cover the key growth systems for businesses in this Ultimate Growth Guide. We identify the 3 different Business Stages, where each stage has a specific set of strategies, activities, beliefs, and rituals.
How to grow your interior design business
In this article, we cover the stages, what you need to focus on at each stage, and how you do it.
Let’s dive in!
By the way – these stages do not cover the startup. If you’re not already running your design business, then you need a few different strategies and tactics. You can read about those in this article:
Having said that, if you want to launch your business the right way, you can implement these strategies and tactics to get it off the ground fast.
But, if you already are in business, and your next step is to grow it, this is a great guide for you!
Typically, the business growth stages focus on growth, scale, and leaving a legacy. The first stage is focusing on building the essential assets that you can use to take your business to the next stage.
The First Stage is about… CONSISTENCY
At this stage, it’s crucial you focus on activities that make you money. The typical activities are:
- Figure out your brand positioning.
- Figure out your main business model.
- Productize your offers to be easy to sell and easy to buy.
- Design a signature client experience
- Build systematic sales & marketing processes and assets that work for your unique business.
- Design media assets, get visibility, and become consistent in your content production, distribution, and communication.
Become a consistent communicator, have consistent quality in your deliveries, and enjoy consistent, predictable revenue growth.
Possible growth blockers at this Stage
At every stage, there are multiple challenges that block our growth. These challenges change when you grow, but there will always be challenges when you navigate from one stage to another. Here are the most common growth blockers at this stage.
The biggest growth blocker at this stage is total confusion. A confused business owner sees neither the trees nor the forest. Since the Internet is full of great opportunities and advice, growing a business has become such a complex thing to do.
Today, everything is googleable, which also leads to information overload and confusion. If you haven’t figured out your own way to grow your business yet, there’s a risk that you’re scanning the Internet for all kinds of tactics that could move the needle for you. Unfortunately, this most likely will leave you more confused than before.
Right activities, wrong timing
The second biggest growth blocker is to focus on activities that are not relevant right now. Many try to put together systems that are meant for the scaling stage, and while it’s great if you already now know what the future holds for you and plan for the next stage, scaling too quickly or focusing on activities that are designed for scaling, could potentially hurt your business more than help at this stage.
When you scale, everything scales. You don’t want to scale misery.
Cash is the fuel that keeps your business engine running. Regardless of your relationship with money, cash is the energy your business needs, and the need doesn’t become smaller when you grow. A business needs to generate cash to invest back into the business to make it grow more. A business that doesn’t increase your personal wealth will eventually be a waste of your time, money, and dedication.
Growing a business eats cash for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for night snacks too. Too many business owners don’t focus on cash-generating activities, but rather tweak things that don’t contribute to the cash flow.
There’s nothing that keeps a business owner’s mind calmer than a steady flow of cash and sufficient cash reserves. They say money can’t solve your problems… but gosh, those people have never built a business.
Doing the right things at every stage
There is no one-size-fits-all model to grow a business. Your business is as unique as you, and so are the strategies, tactics, and decisions. However, growing a business at this stage is simple, if you allow it to be.
This stage is NOT the same as starting your business. To be able to CHOOSE growth, you need to have had clients already, you must have been in business for a while.
Millions of small businesses have navigated through this stage, so there’s no reason to try to re-create the wheel. Here’s a short checklist of the activities to focus on at this stage:
- Understand who your ideal customer is and what they need. Note: this might not be your DREAM customer, because you might not know who your dream customer is… just yet. Ideal at this stage means that he/she/they have a problem you can solve, and they are willing to pay to get that problem solved. This is the absolute foundation for any business: finding the hungry crowd who want to get a solution to a problem, and offering it to them for a fee. Not free, okay?
- Position your business as the best thing since sliced bread. The hungry crowd needs to choose you when they eventually are ready to solve the problem you help them with.
- Turn your “whatever they want to buy” into an elegant, scalable suite of offers that work well together increasing the value you create and the customer LTV.
- Create 1-2 essential offers that your sell to your clients. These offers should be easy to sell, easy to buy, and easy to deliver.
- Design a brand that speaks to your audience. Become known and seen as THE solution in your marketplace. Design your brand positioning message to make it very clear what your business does, for whom, and why they should care.
- Engineer a sales system that works. As stated earlier, the goal at this stage is to get your sales to become consistent, so you need to engineer a system that makes that possible. This system is simple, straightforward, and requires low technical skills.
- Engineer a marketing system that keeps your business on top of your prospects’ minds, and positions you as the best logical choice for them. We use simple strategies to build social authority and implement a simple method for lifecycle marketing.
Outcomes of the Activities
You have a business concept that people buy into, a suite of products/services that you can sell at a price that makes you profitable and happy. Your sales process is working, your marketing is no longer a guessing game, and your growth is consistent. You have a Growth System in place that you can scale if you want.
Download the Ultimate Growth Guide and use it in your work!
The Second Stage is about… SUSTAINABILITY
At this stage, you will start scaling up or down your business. Your business focus will change. Your business model most likely will change. You will change, too. This is a scary stage where the things that worked until now, are not the things that are going to move you to the next level.
Scale up or down, and focus on sustaining the growth path.
- Add additional revenue streams, and engineer the infrastructure your growing business needs.
- Automate the key processes in your organization to gain operational efficiency.
- Expand your visibility and reach through strategic PR and media opportunities.
Possible growth blockers at this Stage
Here are the most common growth blockers at this stage.
No understanding of the business model changes & challenges
What got you here, won’t (likely) get you to the next level. If you have a scalable business model, you can keep doing the same thing, but increase the volume. If you don’t have a scalable business model, you’re facing a big change in your business.
- You might want to grow your local firm to a national multi-location firm.
- Or, you might want to add a branded collection of goods, or maybe create a licensing collection.
- Or, maybe you feel like you want to turn from a done-for-you service to a done-with-you service.
- Or, maybe you’re looking to turn your local store into an international e-commerce or franchise chain…
- Or maybe you want to scale down from hundreds of small projects to a few big ones. Maybe you’re turning your residential design firm into a commercial firm with B2B clients. Oh, maybe…
You see, your business is nothing like the others in the industry, and that’s why you need customized growth strategies and tactics at this stage!
No time for growth
If you are maxed out and already working way too many hours to keep the lights on, you won’t have time for strategic growth planning and execution. Since this stage means that you turn more and more of your hustle into assets, you need to have time for this.
At this stage, regardless of your scaling methodology, you need to design TIME into your work life. That time needs to be taken from something, and we don’t want to take it from family or sleep. Evidently, your business structure will need to change too.
If you don’t have data, or you don’t know what the data tells you, it’s impossible to safely scale your business. Now, business in general always includes risk-taking, but when you scale, you need to know what the risks are, and particularly what your numbers look like.
When you scale, everything scales, so you need to be clear on what your operations look like, and what the consequences of scaling are.
If you have implemented the sales and marketing systems in the right way, you will have all the data you need to be able to make smart, sustainable decisions.
Doing the right things at every stage
Depending on your business model, your ambitions, your resources, and your vision, your plan looks very different. Here’s a short checklist of the activities to focus on at this stage:
- Assess your business to know whether you are ready to scale.
- Prepare mentally to scale. This often means that you need to say NO to a lot of things, while you are fully focused on your mission. You might need to let go of some offers that no longer fit into your vision, or some people that are not the right fit for you. Your revenue might drop temporarily because you are changing your working models… All this is scary but a necessity if you want to scale.
- Focus on wellbeing, both for you and your team.
- Get clarity on your vision and mission. Know why your business exists and what your future vision looks like. Start intentionally building your vision business while your income business is humming along.
- Keep an eye on the quality so it won’t suffer when you scale.
- Implement powerful growth rituals that keep you focused on your vision.
- Carve out time. You need to find time for strategic growth activities. This means you need to remodel your business and sometimes, it also means that you need to drop some customers that are taking too much of your time.
- Design your Signature Client Value Delivery Experience
- Design a business model that scales. You might want to add revenue streams that can help you scale, or, you need to kill many of your operations in favor of the ones that can scale. It’s highly individual and depends on many factors.
- Engineer a business infrastructure that allows scaling. You need to focus on processes, technology, and people. Invest in automation and marketing that expands your reach. And you invest in people who can help you grow.
- Track your Key Growth Metrics every day. At any given time, you need to be on top of your numbers and how your business performs. Implement a simple system for tracking and interpreting your data.
- Design a publicity system that helps you become seen and known as the leading brand in your industry. At this stage, it makes sense to build the powerful media assets that position you as the leader in your industry.
- Build a platform using blogging, video, or podcasting as your main authority builder.
- Partner with relevant key players in your industry.
Outcomes of the Scaling Activities
You will have a business that is scalable: you can level up your business without sacrificing your life and wellbeing. You will be able to remove yourself from the operations and scale them. Your business makes a great profit for you, and you can invest it to support causes you have a passion for, or build new businesses.
When you have all this in place, you will be experiencing solid, sustainable growth and lots of free time that you can spend with your family.
Your business becomes an asset that keeps providing you with the lifestyle you deserve. Essentially all companies continue to the next stage, but we want to do it with a plan.
The Next Stage is about… TRANSFERABILITY
At this stage, you get to enjoy the fruits of your hard work.
- Standardize your business and operations
- Build a highly profitable team while you step away from the operations
- Focus on strategic partnerships
- Build a legacy brand
- Prepare your business for owner transfer – generational wealth or a great exit
You will exit your business somehow, anyhow
While it might not be close to your current stage to think about exits and making a ton of money by selling your business, you need to plan for the exit anyhow.
Because one day, regardless of the reason, you will exit your business.
And when you do it, you might want to have options. Maybe leave your business to your kids? Maybe sell it to someone else? Or maybe just close the shop. At this stage, we work on strategies and tactics to increase the company value so that you have something valuable to exit from.
Doing the right things at every stage
Here’s a short checklist of the activities to focus on at this stage:
- Standardize your business to increase the value of your company. Your business is an asset that creates wealth for you, and value and joy for the people in your industry.
- Build a business that is beyond you, and can easily be run by fantastic team members.
- Prepare your business to be acquired for big money, or kept in your ownership for generational wealth.
- Your team needs to become a profitable, self-going entity that will contribute to the growth of your business.
- You move away from the operations and become the leader your company and your people need.
- Create strategic partnerships in your industry. Become the leader in your niche everyone wants to partner up with and be seen with.
- Create deals, joint ventures, and partnerships with other leading brands.
- Find business deals to invest in.
- Manage your wealth.
Would you like help to navigate these stages? Read more bout how we at Avenue can help you grow and scale through systemization.