When it comes to small business, growth means so much more than a single line item on a Profit and Loss statement. There’s growth of the bottom line, of course, but there’s also growth of capacity and capability, insight, skills, knowledge, expertise and of self. Like anything, the more growth is planned, strategic and cohesive, the better the outcome all round - both business growth and individual growth.
I’ve written before that we can’t get ‘there’ until we know where ‘here’ is. This involves
comprehensive business planning and goal setting processes. (#myfavourite) The logical next step in bridging the gap between ‘there’ and ‘here’ is a clear understanding of the skills required and any relevant gaps. Say hello to one of my favourite tools - a skills matrix.
A skills matrix is essential for planned growth as it includes the internal and external capacity of a business (and an individual) and identifies any gaps. Put simply, the matrix looks at the skills required to complete an activity (product or service development, launch or delivery) against the skills or capacity of the existing team, searching for gaps or alignments. It’s an unambiguous way of seeing where our skills are proficient as well as where we might need some upskilling or outsourcing. It’s the gaps that represent weakness and are obstacles to growth- when we know them we can address them.
Sometimes, businesses complete a skills matrix against a project, activity or function to meet a
need at a specific point of time. For example, a business needs a quick sales page to support an event they’re hosting to showcase a new product, and so they engage a writer for the project. When I work with my clients through my programs and mentoring I encourage them to take a long term approach rather than a stop-gap measure. Instead of assessing the skills needed for the here and now we map out the future instead.
For example, when one of my clients was writing a position description for an assistant she wrote it for the skills that her business would need in five years time as it will be that assistant’s skillset that will help her get there. And how did/would she know what her business would need in five years? No, not via a crystal ball, but through her business plan!
A business plan helps move a business from weakness to growth by drilling deep on every
element that will help or hinder progress. The concept of a value chain analysis is inherently
significant here. It’s where we map out not only the activities and raw materials needed to deliver a service or a product from concept to sales, delivery and follow up, but also how it brings value to both your customer or client and the bottom line. It uncovers inefficiencies in processes, systems and people and when paired with the skills matrix becomes a formidable tool to bring your vision for your business to life. You can make clear, informed decisions about who does what, when they do it and why.
For example, as the business owner or founder you might wish to step away from being a practitioner, the ‘doing’ of your services or the ‘making’ of your products into a role that’s
visionary with a leadership and innovation focus. Do you have the skills to do so? What skills do you need to bring this to your daily work life? What skills do you need to recruit for to replace you from the ‘in’ of your business rather than the ‘on’? Now that you’re a leader with people reporting to you, do you have the human resources skills to manage and lead other people?
The act of creating a business plan is how you set in place a future state of being, one where the potential for your business is highly achievable. A skills matrix and value chain analysis are just two tools that help bring goals to fruition and take people from weakness through to growth, personally and professionally. How good does that sound? If you’d like to go through this process with me by your side, please reach out.