Creating a profitable small business through strategic planning, communication and networking

Small business owners need to clearly define the vision and processes for their business before they can confidently build market presence.

Failing to do this can stagnate your business.

That’s the lesson Kathy McKenzie learnt in the early days of her entrepreneurship.

But implementing a clear strategic direction helped her grow her now-highly successful professional coaching business.

As part of a three-part series, Work Wise spoke to Kathy and two other successful small business owners,Greg Chapman and Stacey Price, about the journey they’ve taken to establish healthy, profitable business practices.

In part two of the series, Kathy McKenzie describes the steps she took to make her business healthy by creating a clear strategy, strengthening her team through communication and trust, and networking with likeminded business owners who can provide objective advice.

Define your small business’ vision

During the beginning stage of Kathy McKenzie’s entrepreneurship, a business health check showed her the business lacked “a clear vision”.

As director of the now-profitable business, Fire UP Coaching, Kathy McKenzie had to restructure her company so it offered a niche service to a targeted customer set.

Create a solid business plan for your small business

Kathy’s business restructure began with her devising a detailed business plan to define her business’ core values and strategy.

As part of her strategy, she re-positioned Fire UP as a registered training organisation and discontinued non-accredited courses.

She defined a niche customer group.

She also decided to refine her course offering so she can showcase her team’s strengths while appealing to her target audience.

To continue her business’ success, she defines “strategic imperatives” each quarter and holds regular meetings with her team to assess progress towards achieving the goals.

Team meeting with laptop

Communication with your team is crucial to run a healthy business

As part of a transparent communication core value, Kathy asks her team to critique areas of the business they believe are underperforming each year.

During weekly catch-ups, each person has to update the team on their part of a project (which aligns to the business’ overall goals) and report their progress.

“Every week we have a review of our goals; are we on target? Are we tracking towards or away from things? Are we being distracted by unprofitable things?” Kathy says.

“We go through and make sure everyone is accountable for the outcomes they said they would achieve and see if they need support or help from others in the team.”

Kathy says when the team regularly communicates, they respond positively to transparency and work more productively and collaboratively.

Within businesses she coaches, Kathy says she really notices the negative effect that poor communication skills and a lack of processes can have on the business’ health.

Small business networking

Networking with other professionals and finding mentors can help keep your business healthy

Kathy credits her “think tank” of likeminded business professionals – with whom she regularly meets – for helping to keep her business healthy.

She uses the monthly group meet-ups to voice any problems she’s currently experiencing in her business so the collective can brainstorm solutions.

The group comes from diverse industries so each member offers a unique set of skills and business knowledge.

“Without them, I don’t think I’d still be in business,” she says.

Be a leader and leave the technical expertise to your team

Unless you’re a sole trader, Kathy says it’s important for business owners to strategically lead their team and the business, rather than try to remain a technical expert.

She says business owners who have already established solid hiring and training processes should trust their team is well trained to deliver results for clients.

Kathy has developed that trust with her team, and she believes “the results are showing”.

“We’ve had really good growth consistently”.

Read how Dr Greg Chapman believes you can build a ‘profit machine’ for your small business.

Also, find out what Stacey Price believes small business owners need to know about their finances.