A Road Map for Growth: Before Planning for the Future, It's Important to Examine Why You Are in Business in the First Place and Define Your Gallery's Vision and Values

Article excerpt

Why is it that we know enough to board up the windows before a hurricane hits, but, when it comes to our businesses, we refuse to prepare for hazardous conditions before it's too late? Today's slumping economy is the calm before the storm. But someday soon, shoppers will once again be in the spending mode. They will have new expectations, new needs and new buying patterns. Will you be ready?

This is the first article in a three-part series on developing a plan for growth. Unlike a marketing plan or business plan, a growth plan centers on a specific, strategically timed area of expansion or change. Each article will raise issues, present questions and assign tasks for you to complete, all of which are designed to help you develop a strategic growth plan for the next three to five years.

This article focuses on the marketplace and the core values that drive a business. Next month's article will examine how your future goals may affect your operations and organization. The final article will tell you how to reach your goals and set milestones to mark your progress along the way.

Choose a Course

Change is inevitable--and it's the only way to survive when everything around you is changing. Running a business without direction, intention or a concrete plan can lead to a random series of failures and successes that will make you feel as if you are flying by the seat of your pants.

Business owners and managers must look at each new season as an empty canvas then draw up their plans for the next year with the same creative energy artists use to create their masterpieces. New ideas, technologies and strategies are the brush strokes you must use to create a personalized business management plan.

The best way to face the realities of today's business environment is to create a plan that intelligently responds to the ever-changing marketplace.

Regardless of the reasons and results, the planning process alone can be a rewarding and exciting process. It can also inspire forward thinking among your employees by giving them a sense that they are part of something important. And the more palpable your plans become, the more your customers will realize that your business is not a thing of the past.

The first step of a creative growth plan is to firmly establish three key fundamentals:

* Your understanding of growth

* Your vision

* The market conditions that shape your business and how to compete within them

Determine What Motivates You

There are many reasons to grow your business. You may want to increase your net profits or get more of the market share in your area. Or maybe you're looking for more financial security or respect as a serious gallery. One small business owner may want to make his business more profitable so he can prepare for retirement. Another may want to employ more people or support more non-profit activities. These are all good reasons. The key is to have a vision in mind for why you are expanding your business and let that vision be the motivating force throughout the entire growth process.

Often, gallery owners decide to grow in order to reduce costs. Larger sales volumes equal greater efficiency--and greater efficiency equals reduced costs. If you can send 100 prints to your framer instead of 30, you can usually take advantage of discounts. The more you grow, the more money you can charge for commissions. And if you choose to add a licensing department to your publishing efforts, your advertising dollars can work for both departments. Marketing two departments is cheaper per department than marketing one.

Another great reason to grow a business is so you can afford to hire a manager who can take over the gallery while you go on a much needed vacation.

Establish Values and Vision

Your vision for your business should include the values you want it to emulate and represent. …