Entrepreneurs need to plan for the future growth of their business by integrating evolving marketing platforms into their existing strategies and building a financial plan that will withstand the test of time. Those who stay on top of emerging trends and adapt to their industry and market will set themselves up for future success.

CO— recently hosted a Roadmap for Rebuilding event on how to plan for tomorrow’s business today. During this event, Jeanette Mulvey, editor-in-chief of CO—, spoke with a panel of small business owners and experts on what leaders can do to position their companies for future growth.

Messaging has to be authentic and built to last

According to Jordan Beilin, west division director of advanced advertising sales for Spectrum Reach, the key to creating successful marketing messaging is to make it last for the long term. To do that, organizations need to find a way to make their methods authentic — “not just something that's a flash in the pan,” he said.

“Really authentic, sincere messaging that really addresses some of today's issues is super important to the modern consumer,” Beilin added.

Companies should also think about what they offer in terms of products and services and how they can use their offerings to create a story and narrative that connects with their customers long-term. In the past, businesses used to look at marketing as a funnel where they go through a process to lead to purchase. Now it’s more important to create a lasting connection.

“Today we look at marketing really much more as a journey and really circular, where you never really leave the funnel,” said Beilin.

[Read more: What Is a Sales Funnel?]

A lot of people get caught up in being profitable. You may be in a growth phase where you don't really expect to make a lot of profit as long as you can cover everything. Your operating profit margin target can really be an indicator based on where your business is.

Keila Hill-Trawick, founder and principal, Little Fish Accounting

Know who your customers are

To authentically connect with your customers, you have to know who they are and why they are using your services. This is a lesson that Omayya Harvey Atout, co-founder and CEO of Songlorious, learned first hand when starting his own business.

Songlorious is a website where customers can commission songwriters to write and record custom songs for them. Atout had initially thought their customers would want funny comedy songs for their friends.

“[Comedy] customers are out there and we've had some, but really what they started telling us is that they wanted more heartfelt, love songs,” Atout said. “That's what the majority of our customers are looking for, love songs for their family members or their spouses. It was a big difference in what I fought because I was applying my own thoughts. That's the beauty of testing and finding the right solution.”

By listening to its customers and their expectations, Songlorious was able to reframe itself in a way that allowed them to engage with a larger audience.

Businesses need to consider certain metrics to plan their future

Keila Hill-Trawick, founder and principal of Little Fish Accounting, emphasized the importance of tracking and analyzing the right metrics to plan for their future. She said businesses need to look at their revenue trends so they’ll know seasonally when they have successes and slow periods.

Once the business owner has a sense of how much income is coming throughout the year, they should then look at each month's cash on hand to know how much they spend and how many months they can survive if no income was coming in.

[Read more: How to Create a Cash Flow Statement]

The last metric Hill-Trawick advised businesses to watch is their operating profit margin, which is the percentage of revenue that the profit makes up.

“A lot of people get caught up in being profitable,” Hill-Trawick said. “You may be in a growth phase where you don't really expect to make a lot of profit as long as you can cover everything. Your operating profit margin target can really be an indicator based on where your business is.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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