Community Support Comes in all Sizes

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

This quote by Helen Keller epitomizes the spirit of community, especially at this “most wonderful time of the year.” It is often hard to think about those less fortunate in our communities and how we’d like to help them, especially with the agricultural economy in its up and down cycle. We are busy paying our own bills and trying to provide a nice holiday for our families. However, if we come together with our coworkers, friends, a church group, or another organization we can make a difference without breaking the bank.

One thing that BioZyme® did during November is gather food for community food banks. That’s right; employees across many locations including St. Joseph, Mo., Haskell, Texas, and Area Sales Managers and other remote workers gathered nonperishable food items for local food banks. Between the St. Joseph and the off-site workers, employees had the potential to donate to 30 banks in 16 different states from Pennsylvania to Texas to Montana to Missouri.

One employee visited a local grocery store where she purchased two cases of canned vegetables, four cans of chicken, a large tub of peanut butter (think non-perishable protein), a box of crackers, a jar of meaty spaghetti sauce and a box of pasta for less than $25. If each person gives similarly, that can feed several people for several meals. And in that employee’s mind, that is two trips through a fast-food drive through for her family or roughly four “foo-foo” coffees for when she gets to the big city – not a major sacrifice for others that are truly in need.

Perhaps your town has a local soup kitchen. Those places are always looking for volunteers to make and serve a meal. Would it really hurt business to shut down to a skeleton crew for a few hours one day to go and serve the community? Perhaps leave a few employees at the store to serve your customers but take the rest to the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter to help prepare and/or serve a meal. The gratitude levels do vary, but your personal satisfaction in knowing you made a difference will soar.

Several organizations typically have an opportunity to “adopt a family” by providing gifts and holiday meals for families that might not otherwise have a nice holiday. Adopting a family as a company might seem daunting or not in the budget, but if your company and its employees work together to adopt a family it can be a little easier on everyone’s checkbooks and make a lasting impact on a family. I remember when I worked at another company, we adopted a family with four or five kids one year, and they all needed winter coats and wanted bicycles. Well, we worked with the local Wal-Mart and K-Marts in town to get bikes at reduced rates when we told them what we were doing. Several of my male co-workers who didn’t really want to “shop” all pitched in a set amount – probably around $20 – and we made sure that family had bikes and warm coats. I signed up to help with the delivery that year. And even though we contacted the mom to see if she wanted to have the bikes be from “Santa” she refused. She wanted her kids to know that kind people gifted her kids those bikes. I’ve never seen 7 and 8-year-olds cry tears of joy for coats and bikes, and it was truly one of the best Christmases I’ve ever experienced.

Giving back. It is more fun to do as a group and the impact is often greater. It doesn’t have to put a big hit on one person or company’s checkbook if we all work together to make a few sacrifices to give to those less fortunate. And together, we can do so much more.

Make an Impact on Others

As the calendar year-end draws closer, many individuals and businesses look for charitable causes to give to. With the holidays near, it is in our hearts and on our minds to give to those who might not have the same advantages we have. But have you thought how you can best make an impact on others?

First, you need to select just a few worthy causes to donate to. Your dollars will make the biggest impact if you don’t spread your gifts too thin over too many charitable organizations. Determine how much you want to spend, and then decide if you want to give all of that to one group or split it two or three ways.

Next, determine how your funds will be used. Does your donation really go toward helping others or will it go to administrative and further fundraising fees? Ask the organization outright. You might be surprised to learn that only 25-percent of your donation goes to the cause. If that is the case, determine if that is a cause worth supporting or is there another charity or individual you can give to? If you are unsure, visit www.give.org and search for your organization, to learn more about the cause and their spending.

Then, choose a cause or organization that is near and dear to your heart. Does someone in your family suffer from a disease that you are passionate about? There is most certainly a group that is raising money for research for a cure to that ailment. Do you care about helping kids whose only meals are what they get at school? Perhaps you’ll want to learn more or donate to Snack Pak 4 Kids™. Maybe you were once involved in 4-H or FFA, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or another local youth organization in your town. It’s always nice to give back to an organization that made a personal impact on your life.

Perhaps you are new to your area, and don’t know where to donate, but want to keep your gift local. Talk to local clergy, someone at the bank or even local law enforcement officers. They are likely to know of local programs like “adopt a family” programs, “shop with a cop”, shelters or food pantries that always appreciate extra financial help around the holidays.

It doesn’t take a big check to make a big impact. If each person donates what he or she is comfortable with, those donations do add up. Pick the organization or groups you would like to help this holiday season and share your joy with others. Make sure the cause you are supporting uses your funds for its programs, and give with a glad heart.

How Employee Personality Profiles Can Save You Turnover Loss

If you’ve ever read the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, you will understand getting the “right people in the right seats on the bus.” Companies don’t fail because they have bad employees, employees that aren’t trained properly or employees that don’t have the right personality. Companies fail because they don’t have the right people “in the right seats.” In other words, they have great employees, but perhaps they don’t have them in positions where they were meant to succeed.

Employee turnover is costly. There is no real way to measure it; you have the time and effort it takes to promote the vacant position, another employee has to fill in, resulting in decreased productivity; if the employee that left was one that others liked and respected, other employee morale could be down, also resulting in lowered performance or even causing others to leave their jobs. By the time you replace one employee that already understood your company culture and policies, recruit, hire and train a replacement employee, you are looking at spending thousands of dollars, and potentially having lost revenue due to losses in employee performance.

In his book, Collins talks about getting people in the positions that they are best suited for. Sometimes a company will hire someone on the premise that that person thinks they know their skill strengths, but they might not always realize their personality strengths and weaknesses. Although personality assessment does take time and money, the investment is typically one that pays off in the end and is less costly than employees leaving and having to recruit, hire and train.

At BioZyme, the employees took the Prism assessment. The results revealed insights into the employees “Emotional, Relational and Team Intelligence (ERT-i). This highly relevant and transformative data will provide you with critical information to impact your personal and professional performance, productivity and success.” In other words, the report likely told each individual things he or she already knew. However, it is an opportunity to let others within the company know more about how to work with each other and for supervisors to make sure they have the right people in the right seats on the bus.

Prism is just one of many assessments that companies can utilize. There are many options available at a variety of price points. Some come with further training while others provide a report and guidance on how to use that report.

So just how important is personality? As Virgin Mobile CEO Richard Branson put it, “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”

Let’s look at this example. For one Ohio-based company, taking a personality assessment helped its Human Resources and Management teams get people in the right positions. They discovered the person they had working the phones in a marketing customer support role was an extreme introvert. And while his degree was in marketing, he had a passion for graphic design. The company moved him into a design position where he could better use his talents and had no interaction with customers. He became very successful in his job. The same company discovered they had an employee who was very outgoing who hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to customers. They moved her into that customer support role, working on the phones. Not only did her career flourish, but customer satisfaction improved too.

Employee satisfaction and attrition go hand-in-hand. You can save the time and expense of employee turnover by making sure you have the right people in the right positions.

Selling a Program Increases Profit

It’s a great feeling when you find a customer that is loyal to a BioZyme® product. But it can be an even greater feeling for you, your customer and both of your bottom lines, when you can convince that customer to buy into an entire program from BioZyme.

Many customers are satisfied with the results of VitaFerm® Concept•Aid®, which is mineral designed to help increase reproductive performance when fed 60 days pre-calving through 60 days post-breeding. Like all BioZyme products, it contains Amaferm®, a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance. Amaferm is also research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal resulting in more milk production as well as to the ability to initiate and maintain pregnancy and fertility. But what about the time of year when producers don’t normally feed mineral – most likely those summer months? Then, you can encourage your customers feeding Concept•Aid to feed VitaFerm HEAT®, which will help reduce heat stress in the herd, which also helps maintain pregnancy.

If you have 10 customers with 40 cows each, and you sell them Concept•Aid 5/S for two-thirds of the year, you have the potential to make roughly $14,860 dollars. But where is your profit during the hot summer months? Selling those same 10 customer with 40 head VitaFerm HEAT for 120 days could land you an additional $7,420 of profit. That’s a total of $22,280 profit on 10

customers for the year. And let’s face it, most dealers have more than 10 customers. And that HEAT mineral is going to help the cows maintain pregnancy, which produces more live calves for them to market the following year, making it worth their investment in the program.

Just like there is added value to both you and the producer for investing in a year-round nutrition program for your cows, you and the producer will also find added value when investing in the three-step VitaFerm® Sure Start® weaning program or VitaFerm® Gain Smart® Stocker Program. Yes, it might be easy for a producer to buy Gain Smart or a Vita Charge® Stress Tub to put their calves on when weaned or turned out to grass. But did you know that if a producer uses one of our three-step programs, he or she can further reduce illness and get those calves back on feed and water sooner? This means they are putting on pounds of gain more efficiently and growing faster for the producer. Marketing the program will help your checkbook, but it will also help the producer in saving money on vet bills and helping calves realize gains faster.

The Sure Start weaning program includes a single dose of Vita Charge Drench or Paste upon weaning. The second step includes feeding Sure Start pellets to the calves for 14 to 28 days to help encourage them to come to the bunk and eat. After those first 2-3 weeks, you can begin to increase digestibility and maximize the energy value of your cattle’s feed with either the cow-calf mineral or the Gain Smart mineral.

The Gain Smart Stocker Program has a very similar approach to keeping calves healthy and on feed during this stressful transition period in their lives. Step one includes include giving the calves Vita Charge Drench within 48 hours of receiving to help stimulate the cattle’s immune system while allowing for maximum effectiveness of vaccinations. Step two provides the Vita Charge Stress Tub for 14 to 21 days to promote feed and water intake. The tubs also provide MOS that helps trap bad bacteria limiting their ability to do harm. And the Stress Tubs increase digestibility to maximize the energy value of feed for more gains. The final step in the program is selecting the right Gain Smart mineral for your operation and feeding program to accurately supplement those minerals lacking in the pasture and rectify mineral imbalances. Gain Smart will help maintain calf health and immunity, hoof health and support gain, once again helping the producer meet his or her goals quicker with fewer expenses.

The more times you can sell a program, the more you will help your customers meet their goals, but you will also help yourself meet your financial goals. Remember, it’s nice to sell a product, but it’s even nicer to put more profit into your dealership by selling a program.

Investing in Staff Development Pays Off

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” This profound statement made by Henry Ford is just as true with marketing livestock nutrition products as it was in automobile manufacturing. Investing time and money into your employee’s training is vital to keeping good employees.

To you, training might seem like a no-brainer. You hire some people, train them to stock shelves, be nice to customers and run the cash register. However, there are more steps and layers to employee training that a business owner or manager need to consider. Let’s look at four key reasons to invest in staff development.

1. Reduce Turnover 

According to research, nearly 40-percent of all employees leave their job the first year because they are unhappy or dissatisfied with the training they received. That is some big turnover, and every time a company has employee turnover, dollars and time are lost in the recruiting and hiring process. The same study showed that employee turnover costs U.S. businesses about $11 billion each year.

Not only will your employees be more likely to stay with your company if you offer some type of training or development, many potential employees look at training as an added benefit. Benefits are a big deal, especially to millennials, and if you provide the opportunities to grow, those benefits will help recruit and retain employees.

2. Build Loyalty 

Employees who feel like part of the team or business are going to remain loyal to the company. They know you have invested in them, so that loyalty increases. If you equip the staff with proper product knowledge, they become “experts” and can easily discuss the benefits and differences of particular products. Cross-training employees is essential, especially in smaller businesses where just a few people do every job. Make sure your employees are just as comfortable with finalizing a sale and helping load a truck as they are discussing the differences between VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® and VitaFerm HEAT®. Plus, loyal employees are more engaged and motivated and require less supervision.

3. Promote from Within 

Did you know that it is safer and more cost efficient to promote someone to a managerial position than it is to hire from the outside? The loyal employees that you have already invested in training, and who have invested their time and knowledge into your company typically make better managers because they already understand the business and the products and services offered. There is less training needed when promoting from within, and studies show that promoting from within often saves a company about $20,000 in salary, bonuses, benefits and training costs.

4. Ensure Longevity

A lot of credit should be given to a company that has happy employees that stay with it. The longer a good, well-trained employee stays with a business, the more loyal he or she becomes to the company, and the relationships between that employee and the customers has time to grow and flourish. Employee longevity is another sign of trust between the employer and the employee, and long-time employees often give the employers more freedom. In addition, thinking back to retention, a long-term employee also saves on expenses, as it is shown to cost from $1,500 to $5,000 to recruit and hire a new employee.

Now that you know the value of employee development, what tools are available to train your employees? One resource that BioZyme® offers is the Master Dealer Program. This online training program allows dealers to learn about sales and marketing as well as the various product lines that BioZyme offers through a series of online training modules. The dealers work at their own pace to watch the videos and take short quizzes. Once a participant has completed the training, and met all the requirements, they will receive a jacket, signage for the store and a special emblem on the Dealer Locator, indicating they are indeed a Master Dealer.

Master Dealer 2.0 is just being rolled out this summer. New training videos on different topics will be available to those who have completed the first Master Dealer Training Program. A year after your Master Dealer completion, you will receive notification about the second phase, and be able to complete that to stay more current on new products and marketing trends.

And, if you are looking for other ways to train your employees, get involved with local organizations. Chances are the local cattlemen association will offer BQA training or the Chamber of Commerce might have workshops geared toward marketing and customer service. Training your employees, and yourself, pays off. Make the time and make the investment.

Today’s Young People are Future Customers

For years grandpa and dad made all the purchasing decisions around the farm or ranch. They decided which color of tractor to drive, which bulls to breed the cows to and even which minerals to feed. But as the years go by, the next generation of customers – my generation –  is starting to make buying decisions. And as a millennial, I might need you to reach out to me just a little differently than dad and grandpa did.

Being classified as a millennial means I’m in an age group with other 18 to 34-year-olds. That’s a wide age range of potential and future customers, and we make our decisions a little differently than grandpa did. Here are a few pointers on grabbing my attention and converting me from a potential customer to a repeat customer:

Reach out to me early on. As part of the millennial generation, I might already be a customer of yours, especially with show livestock and performance horse product lines such as Sure Champ® and Vitalize®. But just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I’m not interested in other product lines. Keep the lines of communication open, and make sure I know how to reach you when I do need to buy more products for my growing livestock operations. For example, I might be buying Sure Champ for my show animals now, but as I develop my herd or take over my family’s herd, I will want to learn more about the VitaFerm line of products and how they will keep my cattle healthy, performing and help increase profitability.

Show us results. My generation thrives on instant gratification. We like to see results and we like to see them quickly. Share research summaries with us that describe the results we might see with your products. We also like to hear from others who have had great experiences. Providing a sample of a quick-response product like Vita Charge Paste is a good idea, too. These kinds of samples are great door openers to conversations about other products and one of the best investments you can make.

Be innovative and stay connected with us. Our generation has technology at our fingertips. We get news from social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and if we are going to learn about your products and services, you’re likely going to have to promote them on social media as well. That connectivity is a two-way street. “Word of mouth” is still the most powerful marketing tool, but instead of us setting around the local feed store or coffee shop, we comment and share on social media. We like to share positive comments on our experiences, so look for those as we engage with you on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Have a conversation with us. Millennials like to be engaged. We don’t want you to give us a sales pitch. We want you to talk to us and include us in the conversation, so we feel like part of the solution. Start the conversation with questions to discover our goals and priorities and give us options.

Be authentic. Because technology is so easily accessible, the ability to find answers to our questions usually is too. We will do our own research and find out in a heartbeat if you have clouded over anything just to make a sale.

Times are changing, but thanks to the foresight and leadership of my dad and grandpa, I’m ready to start making decisions about our operation. Just remember, I make decisions a little bit differently than the generations before me, but keep your conversations real, show me results and work with me, and this potential customer will become your regular customer. Keep connecting with me in innovative ways as technology changes and evolves, and watch your business grow.

Tackle the Tough

Does it ever seem like your to-do list grows by the day and you never get to check anything off of it? Are you working longer days and not feeling like you get to spend as much quality time with your family and friends? As your business grows (and that’s a good thing), so do your responsibilities. But how are you ever supposed to get everything done?

Perhaps you are like the cowardly lion from the movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” He said in the movie, “I haven’t any courage at all! I even scare myself. Look at the circles under my eyes! I haven’t slept in weeks!”

If everything you have to do to keep your business growing is making you lose sleep, grab some courage and tackle the tough tasks first. Set aside the first two hours (or whatever amount of time you choose) of your work day to do the work you feel will be the hardest part of your day. This might be a sales call with a new customer who you’ve been working on for months. Or it might be talking to an employee that you’ve had challenges with. Maybe you don’t like sitting at a desk and working on financials,

so you need to do this the first thing every day or every week and get the tough tasks out of the way.

What is your time worth? The adage, “time is money” is true, and if you ho hum around avoiding the tough tasks on your to-do list, you are losing time and potentially losing profit. By facing the toughest tasks first, you have the opportunity for further growth. Maybe you have been working with a potential customer for months, and if you contact them early in the day and make a sale, you are already growing your business first thing. Have an employee that isn’t meeting expectations? Tackle that issue first thing in the morning to start improving productivity.

When we have the courage to face the toughest tasks or the jobs we are dreading, we get those out of the way, and the rest of our day, can only improve. And what if something good comes out of that sales call you’ve been dreading to make? Then you are starting your day on a high note, after you’ve checked that task from the to-do list.

On Inc.com, Jeff Haden suggests choosing the 2-3 most important tasks (MIT) to tackle each day. As you make your daily to-do list, put these MIT at the top of the list with a goal to have them accomplished by noon each day. That gives you time for other tasks that need be accomplished.

It is human nature to avoid the tough times. But if you focus on the tough tasks in your job first, you will notice increased productivity, the potential for more financial growth and days that will fly by more quickly.

Do Customer Promotions Pay?

Motivation is the little extra nudge of encouragement that people need to take the next step in the right direction. You are probably continually looking for ways to motivate your customers to buy or try new products or motivate your sales force to increase your sales. There are ways to motivate both your staff and your customers to help your sales figures increase; however, you need to make sure that your budget will benefit and not break from these incentives and promotions.

Although promotions can certainly be useful, be sure your business is benefitting from the promotion. Promotions are not effective if all you are accomplishing is reducing the profit margin on products you would have sold anyway. If you do run a promotion, make sure it is for a new product that you are offering or one for a product in which you truly want to increase sales with new customers. A promotion isn’t effective if you are only selling a popular product at a reduced rate.

According to marketer Gary Sanchez, “Promotions should be a well-planned, seasonally relevant focus on themes or solutions wrapped around your products that your customers will take note of and value, and that prospects will be enticed to try for the first time.” Promotions should encourage your current customers to try new products and help prospective see enough value in your products that they want to give them a try too.

Will all sales promotions be effective? No. But, here are five simple tips to help ensure your next promotion is a success:

1. Target Audience
Studies have shown that over time loyal customers spend nearly 10 times the amount spent by average customers. Do you focus your efforts on existing customers or do you try to recruit new customers with your promotion? Perhaps you could offer a loyalty program to those customers who have been with you for the long haul.

2. Measurable Goals
As with all marketing goals, you need to have goals that are more specific than just to increase sales. Do you want to increase sales of a specific product? Do you want to see more customers start using more of a program like the Gain Smart® Stocker Program? Write out your goals where you will see them daily and design your promotion around those goals.

3. Limited Availability
Behavioral psychologists have found that human beings tend to assign greater value to things they perceive as being scarce. If your promotion runs for half the year, is it really a promotion? But, if your promotion runs for 30 days, your customer is more likely to jump at the chance to take part. If part of the promotion is a giveaway, and the promotion states, “while supplies last” customers will take part in the promotion earlier on to be sure they get the added value of the promotion.

4. Sufficient Promotion

Be sure to let your customers know that you are having a promotion. This might be through your regular advertising efforts, in-store signage, email or on your Facebook page. Remember, you are trying to make added profit during this promotion, so adding a lot of extra advertising probably isn’t the best idea. Studies have shown that email marketing is a low-cost, effective tool. Emails to interested parties have a very high rate of return, with 44% of email recipients making at least one annual purchase based on a promotional email.

5. Value
When the promotion is over and the customers have made their purchase, will they find value in the goods or services they bought? Be sure the promotion you are offering has value to the customer now and will in the future.

After your promotion ends, refer back to your intended goal to determine if it was met. Did you increase sales of the particular product you were trying to promote? Did you get loyal customers to try new products they weren’t currently using? If you met your goal, and calculated a positive ROI, your promotion was a success!

Online sources:

https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2015/08/5-key-elements-successful-sales-promotion.html|
https://www.garyasanchez.com/9-benefits-of-sales-promotions

Invest in Your Team to Grow Your Business

You’ve got product, and you’ve got a sales staff. But according to your accounting records, your product sales haven’t shown much growth lately. Perhaps it’s time to invest some resources into training your team, and start seeing an increase in your business.

According to a Dale Carnegie Training Center study, 40% of employees who receive minimal to no training will leave their job during the first year, stating that they are dissatisfied with their position in the company and overall lack of training, so they don’t feel like part of the team. The same study revealed that employee turnover costs U.S. business owners $11 billion annually.

You can see from those figures that making a small investment in training can save you money and potentially grow your business, as it costs less to hire and keep employees than it does to rehire employees on a regular basis. Your business will be more organized, and your employees will feel more knowledgeable and appreciated.

To put the advantages of a well-trained sales force into perspective, one study showed that once a group of Kinko’s employees were properly trained, that sales force generated three times as many sales of a new product compared to their peers who did not receive training. If you could increase your bottom line by three times, wouldn’t that make the investment of employee training worth it?

Your business will also benefit from training employees through overall productivity. Employees will know more about the products they are selling and how to engage with potential and current customers while being able to comfortably talk about those products. In addition, the employees will be happier, and feel more like part of the team and not just a robot that you’ve got on the staff.

Once you have your sales force trained and start to see sales grow, be sure to let your employees know you value them and their efforts. You might think that a pay check twice a month is appreciation enough. However, a study by the International Society of Performance Improvement on performance improvement, found that incentive programs could increase employee performance by 22% in individuals. There are several inexpensive ways to offer employees incentives for meeting pre-specified goals without cutting into your increased profits.

A few ideas include pre-set commission for predetermined sales above a certain benchmark; paid time-off or flextime for exceptional work or increased sales; host a luncheon in their honor for a big sale or a new customer you’ve been working hard to get – most everyone enjoys pizza or a burger and the added camaraderie is a bonus too; provide them with a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant. Don’t forget the value of the employee’s family. Bonuses and incentives that keep the family in mind include gift cards to the bowling alley or movie theater, a family gym membership or tickets to the rodeo or an entertainer that is coming to town.

Perhaps the biggest incentive for employees to perform to their ultimate ability won’t cost you a dime, but are two simple words our parents taught us long ago:

THANK YOU.

What Do You Need to Grow?

Companies of all types and sizes typically want to grow in one way or another—whether it’s in terms of revenues, profits, number of employees or customers, market share or number of locations. And while not every business owner has aspirations to build the next Google, almost every business wants to see progress from one year to the next, even if it’s just in the amount of money one can take home to the family. Research shows that trying to grow when the business is not ready is a leading cause of business failure. So, knowing if you and your business are ready to grow is very important to its success. The first google item that pops up for this topic makes it look so easy.  Just buy an “all-in-one platform” and it will scale business growth.

We all know this is not the way sustainable growth works and that we need to spend some major time setting the stage for growth for it to occur successfully. The below questions can help get the plan moving forward.

What is your long-term goal and how does that impact your growth decision? No goal, no glory. While we can’t predict the future, we can certainly plan for it.

Are you prepared financially? In our personal life, they say you should have six months of expenses saved “in case.” Growth is an “in case,” so that same basic rule applies to business. On top of this amount, one needs to add the estimated additional expenses from the growth plan. Don’t implement the plan without the cash.

Do you have the space and capacity to grow from a facility standpoint or will you need to expand? You must know the full capacity of your current operation before you begin this growth endeavor. You then must know what percent of that capacity you are currently operating. This is imperative to the decisions ahead.

How will you fund the potential expansion? Growth financing is every bit as hard–if not harder–to obtain than startup funding. Do regular cash-flow projections so that you know how much credit you’re going to need well before you have to start writing checks. Develop and maintain strong relationships with your funding sources and be sure to have primary and backup sources available. In today’s financial climate, it’s harder than ever to predict credit availability, so stay on top of your cash and financial needs to give yourself plenty of room to maneuver when it’s time to borrow.

How much human capital will be required to meet your growth goals? Where will you find it and how will you pay for it? The team that can successfully run a $1 million company is not the same team that can run a $50 million company. If your goal is growth, hire people who can perform in the size company you want to be–they’ll help you get there.

Will your existing customers remain loyal during the growth pains? No company can do without customers, and if you don’t stay close to them, you’ll lose them. Know what they need, but more importantly, know what they want and do everything you can to give that to them. Most important though is to communicate. Never let your customers wonder what’s going on. Tell them–whether it’s good or bad.

Will the work required to grow bring unavoidable stress into your life that could potentially deter your ability to successfully operate your business with your best foot forward? Be honest here and make sure you really think it through.

The better prepared you are for growth, the better your chances for success. Devise a plan that helps you get to where you want to go. Make sure you think of your plan as a GPS system. Don’t think once you are on the route that you know better than the GPS. And remember, the more specific your plan, the less chance you have to get lost.

Last but not least, don’t forget to focus on your core business and don’t get distracted. Stick to the business your company knows best. Be sure any diversification or product line expansion you do makes sense. If it has nothing to do with your core business don’t get into it just because it seems like a good opportunity. Otherwise, you’ll you confuse your customers and your employees–and you’ll likely find that dividing your efforts reduces the quality and profitability of everything.

Just as you plan for when things go wrong, also plan for when things go well. When you’re prepared for growth, you can better manage the changes it brings and let it take you to the goal you set when you started.