How does your business development strategy compare?

Plan A or Plan B?

How’s your business development plan for 2012 coming along? Kristy Sheppard blogs about benchmarking your plan against that of other SMBs.

We’re well into January so no doubt you are finished or close to finishing your business development plan for 2012. A daunting task if ever there was one, especially in today’s cautious climate!

There have been a wide range of economic changes in the past year, such as falling interest rates, a higher Australian dollar and historically high consumer saving. All this has kept everybody on their toes, especially SME operators.

2012 will most likely be just as unpredictable, so no doubt most small to medium business owners have taken a good long look in the past couple of months at what’s worked and what hasn’t over 2011.

Have you ever had the chance to benchmark your lead generation, lead conversion, customer retention, marketing ROI, revenue, profit and other results against that of other businesses? What about your business development plans? Doing so could very well give you a better perspective from which to base your important decisions for the year ahead. It could also give you a competitive edge.

We’ve just delved into our latest MYOB Business Monitor research to uncover the top five areas of their business 1,000+ SMEs across Australia plan to increase over 2012:

  1. Focus on customer retention strategies – 39 percent of respondents
  2. Focus on customer acquisition strategies – 34 percent
  3. Business activity in new markets – 33 percent
  4. Number or variety of products or services offered by the business – 29 percent
  5. Amount paid to staff – 24 percent

Customer acquisition and retention is unsurprisingly top of the pops. With consumers and businesses increasingly careful about spending money, SMEs servicing these groups will need to up the ante when it comes to not just communicating but proving the value they provide.

Diversification is another heavy focus, which also makes sense. A reduced appetite for your business offering is a scary prospect. What’s more scary is continuing to market to the same crowd and expect a better result. Why not look outside your comfort zone geographically or product/service range wise to attract new faces and hopefully boost your revenue?

It’s interesting to see that only 24 percent of business owners plan to increase their staff pay this year. I wonder what kind of staff retention strategies will come into play for those who take this path? Is this an opportunity for you to capitalise on talented staff moving around or are you relieved to see you’re not the only one tightening your remuneration belt?

Food for thought as we ramp things up to tackles 2012 head on.

A longer look at the results can be found here.

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