Visual symbol of business growth using plants

How to grow your business: some expert advice

Here on the My Accountant Friend blog, we’re always keen to chat to people who can bring a real difference to the self-employed community.

This week we caught up with Richard Hunter-Rice, a Midlands-based business consultant who has more than 30 years of experience helping companies of all sizes to realise their potential. Ever wondered how to grow your business? Read on…

Small business owners are constantly being told there are ways to improve their income that they’re missing out on. As someone who has been in marketing and business strategy for over 30 years, which would you say is the key piece of advice that never changes?

Take action and be consistent. By this I mean, if you want your business to do more – just do something! Also, consistency is so important. Just sending out one email with an offer on it won’t result in hundreds of new orders coming in. Communicate with your customers and prospects on a regular basis and you WILL notice an increase.

On your website, you suggest that the strategies you’ve developed can work for companies of all sizes. Are there certain sectors that are harder to work with, or do you believe that every company you work with has the potential to vastly improve their situation?

Start-ups can be tricky to work with as, usually, they are limited with their available resources – this is both time and finances. Also, my experience has been that a start-up is someone’s dream and it can be difficult to challenge and “pick holes” in their dream without people taking it personally.

Every client I work with has the potential to grow, though. We bring different strengths to the table. I bring my experience in sales and marketing, and the business owner brings their experience from their sector.

It is the perfect combination as powerful sales and marketing strategies that bring in results are similar across all sectors. Also, most businesses think that their challenges are unique, but they are usually very similar.

You talk a lot on your blog about adding value to what you provide. This certainly seems to make sense. How do you go about helping people identify the value they’re missing?

Each day there are hundreds of new businesses being created worldwide. Business owners don’t think enough about how they are different from their competition.

If a business fails to identify why they are different to their potential customers, the only way their customers can select them is down to price, i.e. who is the cheapest. This very quickly becomes a race to the bottom and it is impossible to win.

What would you say the three biggest factors small business owners miss when it comes to improving their strategy?

The first thing is to allocate some time each week to work ON and not IN their business. This gives the business owner time to plan, strategise and simply think. Second is to plan with your new-found time. Create plans for the day, week, month, quarter and year.

Business plans don’t have to be an encyclopaedia in length. A single sheet of A4 which covers high level targets is fine. I’m a firm believer in KISS: “keep it simple, stupid”.

Third is to get their business’s foundations in place – this is what everyone seems to miss when they start a business. Things like identifying what makes the business unique, why they are different to all of their competition. Get these documented and in place and all of their future marketing becomes a hell of a lot easier and profitable.

What does a typical one-on-one coaching course involve, should I choose to sign up with Minerva?

This will always start with reviewing where the business is, and what is already in place. I know that all businesses have “good stuff” going on, and it’s just making a few small, strategic changes and tweaks that are required.

Then, as I mentioned above, we start with the basics and gradually get more and more advanced. Within the first couple of months, the business owner WILL see a big difference. We also guarantee our work and don’t believe in locking business owners into lengthy contracts they can’t escape from.

What’s your own background? How did you get into this area yourself?

I’ve worked in lots of industries and different sized businesses over the past 30+ years. From the family business to start-ups, from mid-sized companies to a couple of large global businesses. I’ve always had a big interest in personal development and productivity (I am also an Evernote Certified Consultant).

My roles had always been working within a business and growing them – I took one business from £6million to £48 million annually, over a period of 10 years.

Also, a large chunk of my working life has been within the IT industry – this is extremely useful when working with small businesses as I am able to apply the experience of working with complex IT solutions, to sourcing solutions that empower the small business owner.

Minerva Growth was founded in September 2016 as I had become more and more frustrated working within businesses with poor, outdated management styles and I saw a real lack of understanding around the changing world of sales and marketing.

I knew that by starting Minerva Growth, I would be able to support a number of businesses, rather than just one at a time. Also, I knew that I would be able to continue to embrace the changing world and to educate more people.

You say on your website that you like working with smaller businesses. I can identify with that. What is it that you find intriguing about working with a small business rather than a large corporate?

Small companies are just so much more agile than larger businesses. I’ve worked within both, which has been a useful experience, but there is something about the smaller business that I just love. You get to see the results from your work – far quicker within a small business and it’s real life changing stuff. I see, too often, the stresses and strains that running a small business can have on the owner, maybe a husband and wife partnership, and the family.

Turning this business around and making it run slicker and starting to scale is (and always will be) far more rewarding than improving results on a P&L sheet for a board of “suits.”

All that said, there must be times when working with a large corporate is particularly satisfying. What do you get out those situations?

It is a lot easier working for a large corporation – things like a monthly salary, expense account, the latest and greatest laptop and mobile phone are all really nice things to have. But there is so much more to life than these things.

I’m glad I had the experience of working in very large companies – I learnt a lot about adopting processes and scaling a business – but I would never go back. I would just find it too suffocating, and I didn’t enjoy being just a number.

I am currently sat on a Saturday lunchtime working away answering these questions, but I wouldn’t change a thing for the world. The reward and satisfaction in seeing business growth is huge.

If a MAF reader wanted to work with you, how should they go about it? 

We are on most social media channels: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Are you doing any presentations or talks in the UK that they could attend? 

I do run a monthly focus group, across various locations in the West Midlands and I will be spreading out and running a few of these, across different areas of the UK over 2018.

My focus groups are completely free to attend, and anyone attending walks away with a ton of useful knowledge to go away and implement into their business. For further information, please go to www.minervagrowth.co.uk/focusgroup.

Right now I am planning Focus Group’s for Wednesbury (West Midlands) at the end of March, and one in the Brighton area for mid-April 2018.

We will also be starting a series of free focus group webinars for people who just cant get to the physical locations. Please drop me an email at rich@minervagrowth.co.uk, and I’ll be happy to keep anyone informed of any future events.

Other than that, please reach out to me. I am happy to talk to any business owner and answer any questions or offer advice around your business challenges – 0121 286 6300.

While you’re wondering how to grow your business, you might consider your accountancy situation. Here at My Accountant Friend (the online accountants with the human touch), we’re always happy to chat. Get in touch here

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