Once you start a business, your next focus may be how to sustain and grow that business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) makes it clear that many businesses fail during the first one to five years, but this shouldn’t discourage you. You can learn from other people’s mistakes and find out how to grow your business. If you want to serve more customers, expand to open more physical locations, and increase your profit, these are several reasons to grow your business. The most important thing to remember is that all your efforts should be guided by strategy, not just effort. When To Expand Your Business Before you consider whether or not you want to expand your small business, try to view expansion in the right context. It’s not all about money, money, money. Yes, successful growth does lead to increased revenue, but business development leads to so much more. Think bigger. Think more customers, locations, and employees. Think higher-quality products, improved customer experience, and innovation. Sometimes, you expand your business to seize an opportunity. Other times, you expand to guarantee survival. There are many signs that will show that it’s time for you to expand. Here are just a few that can help you decide. Your customers demand it - When your customers start asking about new locations or products, it’s time to begin thinking about expansion. If your customers travel a long way to visit your restaurant or retail site, consider opening a second location and do some research to learn more about viable markets. You have money in the bank - It’s important to keep a cushion of cash on hand in case of an emergency, but too much money sitting in the bank could be a sign that you need to invest in growth or expansion. You have too much business to handle - Too much business isn't something most startups worry about, but it can become a massive issue for rapidly growing companies. If you're working longer hours or turning away customers due to bandwidth, it may be a good time to expand your business. 7 Ways To Grow Your Business Feeling a nudge to grow your small business is a natural part of the process that is bound to happen sooner or later. Timing is also very crucial, so don’t miss the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. These seven strategies will show you how to grow your business. 1. Ask Your Customers What They Want This is a very crucial step that you don’t want to miss. Don’t assume that you know what your customers want. Continually ask them what they are interested in and seek feedback. This may mean sending out a survey via email to learn more about a common pain point customers have and how your business can help solve it. Or it may look like including a link to a survey on your store receipts to gain valuable feedback about each customer’s experience. Use the information to brainstorm what products you can start offering to grow your business. 2. Upgrade Your Email Marketing Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing. Whether you have a retail business or an online service-based business, email is an exceptional tool for staying connected to your customers. Make sure you’re emailing your customers regularly and including valuable content in your messages. If you’ve been sharing a monthly newsletter, consider leveling up and sending it bi-weekly or weekly to boost engagement. You should also be sharing sales, promotions, offers, and other marketing strategies with your email list. Effective email marketing will help you connect with customers and build trust over time. It’s also a great way to keep your loyal customers informed about what’s going on with your business and provides a gentle reminder that you’re still around and thriving. For example, if you’re having a holiday or bi-annual sale, this event can easily slip your mind. However, if you send out email reminders, this will help them remember your sale and even get them excited with anticipation in the days leading up to the sales event. 3. Establish a New Revenue Stream If you’ve gotten really good at providing a certain product or service, it may be time to grow your business by establishing a new revenue stream. Have a bar that sells only drinks? Maybe it’s time to expand your menu to include a few simple appetizers. Own a social media management business? Maybe you can hire additional help to add email marketing or SEO to your list of services. Be intentional about staying within your niche, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things that your customers would be interested in purchasing from you. You may even be able to market your new product as an upsell or add-on to a best-seller item that’s already pretty popular for your business. This helps create buzz and excitement around the new revenue stream that you’re establishing. 4. Hire the Right People Often, growing a business means hiring the right people to step in and help with business expansion strategies. Even as a small business owner, you can’t do it all alone and you need a reliable team to support your efforts, even if it’s a small team. Take some time to map out what your ideal support system looks like. What type of experience or credentials do they have? What character qualities or skills do they bring to the table? Which tasks do they take off your plate, so you can focus on other areas of your business? Ideally, you want to work with someone who brings skills and expertise, but who’s also hardworking, reliable, and dedicated to the success of your business. Investing the time and resources into hiring the right people can pay off tremendously when it comes to growing your business. If you’re looking to expand your business physically and open a new location, hiring the right people will also help make this transition more smooth. 5. Build a Sales Funnel If you’re an online business owner, you need to build a sales funnel, especially if your goal is business growth. A sales funnel helps take your leads and turns them into paying customers. In other words, a sales funnel takes the customer on a journey from being first introduced to your business to becoming a raving fan. Sales funnels don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to create. Here’s an example of a basic sales funnel: Step 1: Someone sees your post on social media and finds it helpful. Step 2: They then click on a link to your website to learn more or get more resources and help. Step 3: They sign up for your email list to get a freebie. Step 4: Over the next few days, they receive an automated email sequence from you, offering up more gems and valuable content. Step 5: You invite them to attend a free webinar you’re hosting. (This webinar could be pre-recorded and part of your funnel). Step 6: The webinar helps this person solve an immediate problem and they purchase a product or sign up for a service you promote during the webinar. Your sales funnel doesn’t have to look like this and realistically, it may take time for a prospect to move through the funnel. You can continue to test our different strategies and track your metrics to improve your sales funnel. Ultimately, this clever marketing tool can help grow your business passively if you’re willing to be consistent and persistent. 6. Network More Strategically While the methods might change, the art of networking will never go out of style. You just never know who knows who or how a particular relationship can grow your business. Be intentional about joining certain professional groups and attending conferences or local events for entrepreneurs. Don’t just network to network but rather, have a specific goal in mind. Maybe you’d like to: Exchange contact information with three people who specialize in a certain area Find someone in a particular niche who you can partner with to grow both of your businesses Connect with someone who can provide you with referrals and vice versa Networking can feel awkward initially because you may feel disingenuous or like you have ulterior motives. But, the truth is, so does everyone else. At a networking event, everyone is looking to meet someone they can connect with on a professional level. People are open to collaborating, supporting you, and learning more about your business. So embrace the experience and build more solid connections to open yourself up to more opportunities. 7. Adapt to Changes in the Industry Most businesses will survive and grow based on their ability to adapt to changes in the industry. Even large businesses and corporations have to make the decision to adapt when it’s the right time. Let’s take the rise and fall of a major children’s toy retailer, Toys R Us, for example. From 1978 to 1983, Toys R Us had 129 stores and controlled 12.5% of the entire U.S. toys market. By the 1990s and early 2000s, business was booming and the company even expanded to international markets. However, big box retailers such as Walmart, Target, Amazon, and Costco started creating stiff competition for the brand. Recognizing this, in 2000, Toys R Us signed a 10-year contract with Amazon to be its exclusive seller of toys and baby products on Amazon.com. This contract was definitely more favorable to Amazon.com which got a large percentage of the sales. Plus, it set Toys R Us up to depend on Amazon, instead of setting up its own ecommerce website and adapting to the changing times. Many of us know the unfortunate ending for Toys R Us, when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and finally closed its last two retail stores in 2021. No matter the size or success of your business, it’s very important to pay attention to industry changes and trends and always be on the lookout for realistic ways to grow and sustain the brand. Growing Your Business May Rely on Your Ability to Adapt From a small business standpoint, growing your business may be more of a necessity rather than an optional choice. If some businesses don’t pivot and grow during an industry change, they may not have the resources to stay open. Back in 2020, many small businesses in the restaurant and retail industry suffered as the economy took a nosedive due to the global pandemic. People were stuck in their homes, recovering from sickness, not working, and facing many other challenges. A local cupcake bakery was understandably losing sales and the owner had to think quickly to adapt their business to the changing times—even though the hope was that it was only temporary. Soon, the cupcake store started creating cake decorating kits that customers could order online and pick up in their store. They provided the cupcakes, frosting, piping bags, and edible decorations. That way, families could enjoy a fun, yet tasty, activity together during quarantine while also supporting this small business. Always Think Ahead Oftentimes, growth doesn’t just happen at random. It’s carefully planned out and requires a lot of work and effort upfront. Set a vision and goals for the future, so you’re thinking ahead and operating your business accordingly. Also, realize that growth will require finances and, for this, Lendio can help. Check out some of our small business loan options, so you can find the right source of funding to grow your business.