Running an engineering business can be challenging. There are always lots of threats and obstacles to overcome, not to mention the competition that is always there. However, you can put all of the daily running aside and focus your efforts on growth instead.
The daily operations and daily running of your business are, of course, important, and your engineering business should carry on ticking over. However, now you have to start turning your attention onto growth, change, and progression. When you focus on the growth of your business, you can look forward to the future, and you can start planning accordingly. To ensure that you make growth work for your business, what areas do you need to be focusing on?
Take Stock of Where You Are At
To start with, you have to establish where your business or firm is currently at. How large is your current customer or client base? What are you offering, and how much profit are you currently making? You cannot push forwards or progress if you do not know where you are starting from. So, before you do anything else, look at the last few months and years of your business. What have you achieved, and what did you want to achieve? Have you successfully delivered projects on time? When you are taking stock of where you are at.
Conducting a SWOT analysis will help you get to grips with your business and with what your future plans should focus on. As well as conducting a SWOT analysis, you must also look at pricing and profitability. What turnover did you make the year before, and even the year before that? Really getting to grips with the facts and the figures for your business will help you gain both clarity and focus, which is, of course, what you need for future plans.
Establish Where Weaknesses Exist
When you have conducted a SWOT analysis, you will be able to see where weaknesses exist. When you have established where weaknesses lie, you can then start to take corrective action. It is important that you correct areas of weakness before you start to push forwards. If you try and progress or grow when you have problems within your firm or business, then you could be in for a bumpy journey.
So, to make the journey as smooth and as enjoyable as possible, focus on eradicating and even strengthening weaknesses before moving on. Weak points can be visible at any stage within your business, from customer service right through to marketing and promotion. Trying to improve as many areas as you can, of course, be beneficial for your future plans.
A Plan for the Future
Planning out your business future is essential. When you create an action plan for at least the next 3-5 years, you have something that your engineering business or firm can work towards (and even work from). A plan for the future should ideally cover every area from customers and clients to new markets. The more detail you can cover and provide in your plan, then the more targeted your efforts can be.
Your competitors are important to your business, and you need to know what they are doing. When you keep a close eye on your competition, you can ensure that you remain physically and fiscally competitive. If you do not monitor how your competitors are doing, then there will be room for them to creep in and take your clients away from under your feet. Your business plan for growth may end up looking very similar to your original business plan, and this is fine as long as it is current and relevant.
Investing in Yourself
You have a lot to offer your business, and it is important that you focus on investing in yourself just as much as anything else. When you invest in yourself, you mold yourself into the best leader possible. You could start by focusing on investing in your education, and you could do this by undertaking an online masters degree in engineering management because this would give you a great insight into how you can manage change, growth, and development in an engineering environment.
As well as investing in your education, it is also important to invest in your skillset. Improving the skills that you have to offer will make you an all-around better leader, and this will ensure that you are in a fantastic position to push your business forwards and grow. Skills that will be beneficial to you as a leader that could need working on including great communication skills at all levels, the ability to delegate effectively, as well as the ability to create a vision and share it with everyone involved. When everyone within your business feels connected to what you are doing, and when everyone is on the same page, you will notice a difference in how your business runs and how it progresses.
Investing in Your Business
As well as investing your time, energy and finances into yourself, you also have to invest in your business. Your business can grow organically without a cash injection. However, it will never grow if you don’t really invest in its future plans. When you invest in your business, you push it forward in leaps instead of just in baby steps. Funding and financing your business growth may require that you produce a business plan (dependent on where you are getting your funding from).
So, with this in mind, it would be wide to focus on producing a plan to show financially where your business is at and where it is predicted to be in the next few years. When you are investing in your business, think about what areas you want to focus on. For example, do you want to focus on hiring new staff, or do you want to focus on other areas of engineering? Where would funding be wisely invested and spent?
Focusing on the Client
To successfully grow and thrive within the world of engineering, you have to be sure that you are always focusing on the client. The client should always be at the center of everything you do and everything you offer. If the clients’ needs and requirements are not put first, then you will quickly see that they will simply move to a competitor’s business.
To establish if you are putting clients first and center to everything that you do, you need to analyze what you are currently doing within your business operations. See how you are reacting to clients, and see first and foremost if you are responding to their needs. When you undertake a review of client relations, you can then establish if you are doing enough for your client. If your client does not feel that they are getting the best solutions (or value for money) out of their relationship with you, then they will move their business elsewhere.
Expanding Your Target Market
As well as appealing to existing costumes and clients, it is also important to begin focusing on new customers and target markets. When you look at your business, is there any way that you can offer your services to other target markets? Perhaps these target markets could be in another state or even in another country? When you expand who your target market is, you expand your reach and your potential. How can you expect growth if you do not focus on bigger markets?
When you have more people to reach, then, of course, you have more potential. To establish who your target market is, you need to look at customer data and work from here. Are there patterns forming within where new inquiries are coming from? Is there a gap in the market that you can exploit? Finding a new target market does not have to be difficult, especially when you use primary and secondary data and research. Investing in useable and up-to-date statistics and figures will ensure that you know as much as possible about who your target market is (and, most importantly, how to reach them).
Getting the Right Team Around You
Trying to achieve high levels of growth on your own can be difficult. However, if you get the right team around you, then anything is possible. When it comes to getting the right team, you need to look at what skills you need and what you are missing.
Look at your existing team and setup and see what is visibly missing. When you add new members to your team, you want to be sure that you are adding valuable skills and attributes. There is no point hiring new team members just to fill vacancies. Ensure that they are bringing something to your setup, and make sure that they are valuable and beneficial to your team and to your business. When you are looking at bringing in new team members, do not look for just permanent full-time employees as they may not give you the best value for money. Instead, look for freelancers, and look for those who are after short-term contracts.
Development and Diversification
What services are you currently offering within your engineering business? Are you offering a design service or a complete package? When you look at what you are offering, can you see any room for improvement or development?
When you look at diversification and development, you can look at adding extra value to both new and existing customers alike. This is a low-cost, and quick method to introduce and could help you increase your profit margins easily. If you feel there is room to diversify, but you are not sure which way to turn, then why not try reaching out to your customers and clients. Gather feedback from those that have used you, and see if you can establish (from them) what else you could be doing, offering, or even providing. Clients and customers have direct experience with you, and they will provide honest and valuable experience, which is, of course, something that you cannot overlook.
Looking for New Opportunities
There are always new opportunities around, and sometimes all you have to do is look out for them. You can often miss out on opportunities that are right in front of you because you are not focused on them. For example, your customers and clients could hold information that can open up new opportunities.
New opportunities may even exist in your current target market, or they could exist perhaps by joining forces with a non-competitive business. Looking for new opportunities does not have to be something that you focus on fully all of the time. However, at the same time, there is nothing wrong with networking and getting in touch with other businesses and professionals to see if there are any new opportunities on the horizon.
Monitoring the Markets
What the global and local economies and markets are doing is important to you and the future of your business. Both local and global markets can have a real impact on how your business trades, what profits it makes, and what growth it achieves. It is important that you monitor the markets as closely as you can because this way, you will have more control of your business. You will also have more chances to incorporate outside changes and influences which may well affect your business.
Committing and Taking Action
Your business will only grow when you commit and when you take action. Of course, you need to spend time researching what route to growth you should take, but you also need to ensure that you do not spend too long deciding which route to follow.
Market conditions can change quickly, and as a result, your data can end up being useless or not as relevant as it was. To ensure that this does not happen, you need to take action in a timely and swift manner. If you do not take action and put plans into action, then your business may remain stagnant, and this will mean that growth is no longer a viable option.