1. Find your niche
A niche is a specialized area of a larger market with an unmet need that you can continuously serve with your unique selling proposition. If you find enough people within this niche, they can help you grow your business in a couple of ways: creating a steady income stream and building a loyal customer base. These customers are easy to identify and are a neglected sector that’s ripe for what you have to offer. They require a specific strategy that involves a lot of research on how to approach them and market to them.
2. Go the extra mile with your customer service
Customers need several types of service:
- You must provide transparency, which includes open communication about pricing and service changes.
- Customers need to know they’re in control of the interaction, which entails subscription changes, term adjustments and the ability to easily return products and get their money back.
- When they’re ready to open their wallets, payment options and product variety are just a couple of examples of how to reinforce customers’ freedom of choice.
- From the moment they start researching their products until they purchase and beyond, customers need information. This can include educational and entertaining content that ties into your brand, product or service.
Companies that provide these and other proactive services regularly are more likely to be remembered and referred by their customers.
3. Leverage your existing customers
The first step in expanding your customer base is to reach out to your happiest customers and ask for reviews, testimonials and referrals. When someone’s in the consideration stage of the customer journey, they often conduct research by asking friends and checking online for recommendations and reviews. Transforming your best clients into brand advocates means that when someone asks a peer for a recommendation or begins comparing reviews online, your brand’s reputation will stand above your competitors.
4. Hire wisely
Hiring the best employees possible is a major catalyst to fueling business growth and innovation. Employees of small businesses have greater opportunities to make a direct impact on the business than someone at a larger organization. Take time to carefully review resumes and properly vet candidates to ensure you’re only hiring professionals who’ll provide lasting value to your company.
5. Carefully integrate social media to grow your online footprint
Everyone who interacts with your business likely takes the time to review your online presence. Social listening on your website and social media gives your business insight into your customers’ behaviors, trends, new keywords and, most importantly, what customers are saying about your business. Learning how to carefully integrate social media into your daily business helps you better manage your reputation and attract new customers.
6. Turn your employees into brand ambassadors
This is where hiring wisely can pay off. Each of your employees has an opportunity to help you grow your business—not just by performing their job duties each day, but also by how they talk about the company outside of work. They’re a key source of truth about your business, and when you create a positive work environment, they’re more likely to speak highly of your company and provide top-notch customer service.
7. Form strategic partnerships
Strategic partnerships with another company can be a lucrative short- or long-term coalition. It’s not a binding agreement like a joint venture. Instead, it’s about two companies sharing complementary services in an effort to expand their reach and profits. One of the most historic strategic alliances that’s still around today was between Disney and Hewlett-Packard. HP’s audio oscillator was used to make the original Fantasia movie in 1940.
8. Scale with a sales funnel
A sales funnel is a great way to leverage your marketing time and business growth. It’s an automation tactic that can help you scale quickly. Companies use a lead magnet—a free product or service that attracts customers. The funnel takes them through four stages: awareness, interest, decision and action, and throughout every stage, your content is addressing and solving whatever problem or concern they have. This builds their trust in your brand and makes them likely to buy or subscribe.
9. License your product
If you have a product you can license to others, it’s a great way to increase your business’s income streams without a lot of effort. To leverage one of your more popular products, you can license it to a company with a larger audience and share the revenues. One of the most lucrative licensing deals was when McDonald’s licensed Monopoly and borrowed elements of the game to create an instant-win promotion.
10. Find the right customer management system
Streamlining and automation save time and customer relationships. With the right customer management system in place, you can send out deals and communicate with the right segment for better message optimization. As your business grows, the ability to find ways to automatically track campaigns, leverage customer data and better manage your sales can pay off with increased referrals and more profits.
11. Create a webinar
Webinars are masterful tools that help businesses captivate audiences and clinch sales. This visual medium is a highly effective marketing tool, as YouTube metrics often show. Combined with the sales funnel strategy, the webinar lets your business reach a wide audience quickly, giving them insight into your brand and offering. One well-done webinar can help your business reap repeated dividends of brand awareness and increased income.
12. Measure what works and refine as you go
Analytics is a must for any small business. The only way for you to understand what works for your business and what doesn’t is by measuring your organic and paid marketing. While getting sales is a great success for any business, knowing whether buyers or subscribers responded to your Facebook advertising, for example, means you can refine or scrap either method without wondering if you made the right decision. Measure what’s working and you’ll know what steps to take.
13. Use your data to uncover new opportunities
Data is gold, and that’s true for all businesses. Tracking your business data reveals decision-making insights, such as which demographic is responding to your products and how your distribution channels are working or not working. Gathering and analyzing your business data, not just your digital marketing data, can show you trends in your sector that you can take advantage of or potential markets you could move into. The opportunities your business has to grow are only limited by your ability to understand what the data’s telling you.
14. Build passive income streams
Concentrating on the success of your main product or service, also called your active income, is a feat, but what if your profit margins are thin or there’s a sudden hiccup, such as a supply chain problem or a pandemic, that reduces or even halts your sales? Creating passive income, where the money comes in from a separate enterprise that doesn’t require your constant attention, can keep your finances solid while you figure out what’s going on with your main business.
The one major challenge you’ll face when growing your business
One of the top reasons small businesses fail is that they run out of cash. In the midst of amazing growth, it can be easy to lose track of the money coming in and out or underestimate what you need to keep up the cash flow. During the growth period, your business may need to spend more money to keep sales consistent until it reaches that level of stability. Plan ahead, especially when it comes to your supply chain, partnership agreements and marketing budget.
Despite the saying, success doesn’t usually happen overnight. However, by using these strategies, you can make the kind of progress that translates into continuous success.
Frequently asked questions about how to grow your business
What are the stages of small business growth?
There are five stages of small business growth:
- Existence is the stage where your business must become viable.
- Survival is all about making a profit.
- Success is where profits become income.
- Take-off is the rapid growth stage.
- Resource maturity moves toward long-term sustainability.
What are the four major business growth strategies?
The four major growth strategies are:
- Market penetration, which is about expanding market share.
- Market development, which involves increasing product sales.
- Product development, which entails launching new products or services.
- Diversification, although it’s risky because it’s about launching within new markets.
When should you scale up a business?
You know you’re ready to scale up when:
- You’re consistently surpassing goals for a prolonged period.
- Cash flow is solid and repeatable.
- Your infrastructure is strong and you’ve got solid proof of concept.
Basically, scale up when you’re ready and the risk is minimized.