Growing a small business can be bloody hard, yet rewarding.
There are many challenges that come at you on a regular basis, so resilience is needed!
On the flipside, you control your own destiny and you have the opportunity to build an asset that can generate more income than working as an employee, BUT, it is not for everyone.
In fact the minority!
Running your own business can be FUN if you get it right, but you must have an ‘investment’ mindset which includes using external experts when required.
They will save you significant time and money, while reducing your risk.
So if you have a small business and you want to grow it, following are some tips to help you.
1. Invest in systems & processes
If you’re trying to do everything on your own, you are limiting yourself for potential growth.
Do you sometimes feel like your business is an adult daycare centre?
Are you constantly repeating yourself, fixing errors and trying to hold things together?
What if it were possible to create a business that runs itself?
A business with systems and processes can do this as it is less reliant on the owner, and also provides a platform for growth - with less stress for the owner and team.
The ultimate ‘systemised’ business is McDonalds.
Every McDonalds franchise you walk into will provide you with the same experience as a result.
Consistency for both your team and customers is another important outcome, such a critical factor for success.
Having a software platform to store your systems and processes will ensure you have an efficient and effective process for success.
There are many options in this regard, with one simple option being Google, which is what we use at Grow a Small Business.
Another great option is systemHUB, software that has been developed in Australia, by David Jenyns who has also written a book worth reading SYSTEMology
2. Strategic Planning
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Strategic planning is the link between a great idea and true success and growth.
It’s your roadmap.
Strategic planning requires ongoing focus and investment of time.
Not sure where to start?
Don’t worry as we’ve got you covered.
Our Business Transformation Program can help you.
As a starting point, think about the following:
- Your vision, because as the leader of your small business you need to set the vision and bring your team along for the ride. Your vision is the foundation of your strategic planning
- Your purpose statement. Your purpose statement is “why” your company exists and is your guiding star, and
- Your mission statement. It’s “what” you are going to accomplish in the next three years and supports your purpose. Use three measurable goals to achieve in three years with reference to your customer.
3. Focus on scalability
When money, time and expertise are in short supply, it can be tempting to go with the quick (or cheap) fix and invest in basic solutions that don’t require a huge financial investment or learning curve.
But things are not always what they seem - cheap can be expensive.
Yes, that dream solution may be a stretch and have an intimidating learning curve.
But ending up with a patchwork of multiple inexpensive and inefficient solutions (or what you thought were solutions) that appear economical will end up costing money in the long run.
It’s all about return on investment, or cost with an eye on scaling, that provides economies of scale.
4. Digital Marketing
From email marketing campaigns to optimising your website for mobile, to encouraging online reviews - there are many ways to grow your small business using digital marketing.
The key is first having a marketing plan with a marketing budget you can execute.
Unfortunately, nearly half of businesses are doing digital marketing with no clear strategy.
Effectively, pissing money up against a brick wall!
Your marketing plan must also be aligned with your business strategy.
Once you have a plan, identify your customers’ needs, test your hypothesis, iterate and test again.
5. Improve your homepage
Your homepage must be simple and engage with those that land there.
Did you know that 96% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy something.
Your homepage is most likely where they’ll land.
If it’s cluttered or hard to navigate, they’ll go elsewhere.
So use the less is more approach.
If your copy is bad or doesn’t show the value of your product or services, they’ll be turned off.
Sometimes a simple change can make a significant difference.
You confuse you lose!
At Grow A Small Business, we are huge fans of Donald Miller’s book - “Building A Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen”.
6. Increase Customer Retention
You must keep your existing customers coming back.
Too many businesses are too focused on getting new customers and lose sight of their existing customers.
When you increase customer retention, you’re building customer loyalty, which increases revenue.
Considering it costs five times as much to get a new customer than it does to keep a current one, it makes sense, right?
Focusing on retaining customers means you can possibly reduce your marketing spend.
Some ways to increase your customer retention are:
There are the 5Es to focus on:
- Entice - understanding your customers needs and responding accordingly
- Enter - customers enter your ‘gate’ based on the promises you have made to them
- Engage - the experience you provide your customers
- Exit - how you close the engagement, and
- Extend - how you connect after the sale.
Customer relations management (CRM) system
CRM systems help your business manage relationships with existing and potential customers.
They help you maintain customer information and identify sales opportunities.
One of the biggest benefits is that the data gets stored in one place, so you and other employees who need it can access it.
Customer loyalty program
These programs reward your existing customers for supporting your business.
They can also help you attract new customers.
This helps keep your business top-of-mind for your customers.
It’s also a great way to move existing and potential customers through your sales funnel.
Building an email list should be a focus as it can build significant value into your business for ultimate exit.
Did you know, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) in the USA, for every $1 invested in email marketing you get $44 back - the next best return is SEO, at $22.
Engaging with customers on social media
Your customers may reach out to your business on social media with a question or to share feedback, pain points or complaints.
Taking the time to respond and engage with them shows you value their thoughts and take their concerns seriously.
It’s very important to respond to any negative comments that may occur from time-to-time.
Do what you say you are going to do
If you tell a customer you’ll follow up with them with more information or contact them at a later date, do it.
Simple, but effective and important.
This is often not given sufficient attention by small business owners.
Find relevant organisations and events to participate in as a great way of building relationships and your brand visibility.
Also, looking for opportunities to speak as an industry expert at some events.
8. Forecast for intentional growth
Sometimes, business growth takes you by surprise - sales suddenly increase or an unexpected opportunity falls into your lap.
In these cases, you'll find yourself scrambling in a stressful game of catch-up.
But equally, expansion can be carefully considered and planned for.
By taking a slow-and-steady approach and planning ahead for each step along your business journey, you’ll set your business up for successful proactive growth - instead of a stressful reactive response to an immediate need.
9. Diversify Your Product or Service Offerings
You’ve had success selling your main product or service to customers.
That’s what probably has contributed to growing your small business.
Offering different products or services can help you get new customers and increase revenue from your existing customers.
You can do this by:
- Identifying opportunities for new products or services: Do market research to see if there’s something new you can offer your customers to buy, and
- Finding different ways to offer your existing products: This includes subscriptions or bundles.
10. Stay focused on your core strengths
What is the one thing you bring to the table that others do not?
Keep your focus on that.
There are many things you may feel like you should / could / would do in a perfect world (where time was unlimited, and sleep was not required!), but what you NEED to do is keep making what you do, better and better and better.
A continual improvement mentality across your business and team is powerful.
It is important to remember that growing a small business takes a lot of time and effort, and there may be obstacles and setbacks along the way.
But with focus, dedication, and a willingness to adapt and learn from mistakes, it is very possible to successfully grow your small business, with less stress and issues.
Join our waitlist for our Business Transformation Program to get yourself started here