Looking for ways to successfully grow your small business is our constant challenge as entrepreneurs. In this article, Amy Boyington outlines her best 7 tips to achieve the goal.
You have a solid business plan and you’re ready to move on with growing your business from a seed to a thriving tree. No matter how organized and concrete your business plan is, you are the driving force behind your business and its success, or lack thereof.
All businesses are different, as are the ways they grow. Although there are no surefire ways to make your business successful, the tips outlined below are certainly excellent practices to begin. Regardless of your industry, your business can benefit from your employment of these practices to make your business thrive.
Engage With Others In Your Industry
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, engaging with your competitors could be one of the best things for your business, especially if they’ve been in the industry longer than you have. With longevity comes experience, loyal customers, and knowledge that can be extremely useful for you and your business.
Andrew Sobel, a business consultant and author, suggests using the quality over quantity method when it comes to networking. Rather than seeing how many business cards you can collect, keep a close-knit group of helpful people in your industry close to you.
For example, someone you consider a mentor who helped you develop your business plan. Or, one of the top influencers in your industry who has helped inspire your business products or services. Keep these people close, engage with them often, and continue to build your relationships.
Then, you can begin expanding your network to other influencers in your industry with excellent social media followings, your customer base, and your e-mail list. These are all people who are interested in your industry. They are ones you can count on to share your products, provide reviews, and engage with your content. Just remember to return the favor.
Understand What You Do And Make It Great
Too often, business owners try to grow their businesses by becoming just like their competitors. Sure, it’s important to gain inspiration from the things your competitors are doing well. But, it’s also important to stand out in your industry. The only way to do that is to take what you do well and make it even better.
By all means, check out your competition. Learn what they do well and what they don’t do so well. This is where you can learn where to put your focus. It’s all about being different than those in your industry by offering customers something they haven’t seen.
So, maybe your biggest competitor is blowing it away in sales but has a lousy storefront that doesn’t get noticed enough to bring in new customers. But, your customers rave over your landscaping, signage, and historical look. It would be wise, then, to make sure your branding is consistent with your signage that’s getting you noticed.
Become A Trade Show Expert
Trade shows can be huge for your growing business, so learning new, creative trade show booth ideas is a wise move for business owners. Not only will you gain access to potential customers, but you can also learn tips and tricks from other leaders in your industry, or other small businesses.
Promote your trade show appearance on your social media channels, newspaper ads, or online ads to get some exposure and buzz surrounding the show. Make sure you make your social media posts optimally shareable and engaging so your followers can’t help but share.
Come to the show prepared to explain your business, products, and services in an exciting way. Have plenty of things to hand out to potential customers, like business cards, pens, or magnets. Also, consider offering exclusive discounts to those who visit your booth.
As your business grows, you may need to change some goals, ways of reaching out, or even some of your focus onto bigger and better things. While your original business plan should remain consistent, you also need to be ready to make some tweaks along the way.
If your old methods of bringing in customers aren’t working like they used to, such as newspaper or radio advertising, it’s time to try something new. Or, you may be having a hard time holding onto your current staff. As difficult as it may be to convince yourself that something could be wrong in the way you’re handling your staff, there are obviously some changes you’ll need to make.
The only thing that’s truly consistent in business is change, so embrace it for your business to flourish.
Focus On Your Customer Experience
Having loyal customers who continue to come back to your business for your products or services is much more important than putting your focus into making sales. Why? Because these are the people who will give you continuous sales.
Many businesses who focus on obtaining new customers, rather than keeping current customers happy, fail. Without current customers buying products and reaching out to others about your business, you have a recipe for disaster.
It’s time to make your customer service experience incredible. The most important step you can take is show your customers respect. You will, at some point, have an angry customer. He deserves as much respect, understanding, and help as a customer who is 100% satisfied with your business.
Engage your customers on social media and through your website. Listen to their complaints, ideas, praise, and concerns. Find new ways to meet their needs based on questions or concerns they have. Where you have happy customers, you’ll likely find a thriving business behind those customers.
Utilize Free (Or Cheap) Advertising Methods
Did you know that social media is arguably the best form of advertising for today’s businesses? Out of the 7.2 billion people on Earth, about 2.1 billion of them are active on social media. It’s possibly the fastest way to reach out to people and discover new audiences, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
If you use social media wisely, you can get efficient advertising for your business without spending any money on promoting your posts. Here are a few tips to create content that will get you noticed on your social media channels:
- Make it engaging. The more people interact with your posts through retweets, shares, likes, or comments, the more other people will see it. Facebook, for example, will show your posts in more newsfeeds if they have a high engagement of likes, shares, and comments.
- Mix it up. You can’t just promote your business on social media. Yes, your followers followed your business, but they followed it for more than just that. They want content that speaks to them, such as interesting facts about your industry or trending news about other businesses in your industry.
- Be quick to respond. Your audience wants to interact with you. You’ll be much more successful at having an interactive audience when you interact with them. Hire a social media manager, if you must, to make sure the majority of commenters get a response from you.
Promote From Within
Newer businesses, especially, make the mistake of hiring management from outside, rather than promoting from within. This is usually because business owners don’t believe the current team is experienced enough to handle the job and they need someone now.
But, this can be one of your worst mistakes as a business owner. After all, who knows your business better than your current employees? Even if they’ve only been with you for a few months, they still know more than Joe From The Street with two college degrees and years of experience at another company.
External hiring can significantly impact the morale of your team, which isn’t good for business. Your team atmosphere can make or break your business. A happy team will do wonders for your business and your customers. You need to show your appreciation through actions, not just words.
Consider promoting your team members when a new position becomes available. Hone in on their skills, and make those skills work for you. They’ll learn along the way, just as you have while growing your business.