Getting the Best Results for Your Money
Once you’ve done your research and identified areas for growth, it’s time to put your ideas into action. There is a wide spectrum of ways to expand your operations. The following list provides 17 ideas for making that happen. Some are minor upgrades, while others require larger investments of money and time.
- Get a scalable sales funnel: Your business is driven by sales and it takes leads to stoke that fire. Make sure you’ve got a healthy email list, then employ a lead magnet to generate more signups. Keep your contacts happy with special deals and early looks at new products. By cultivating a strong list, you’ll set yourself up for future growth.
- Listen to your customers: Your connection to customers shouldn’t be limited to you speaking to them via email and other channels. Use research and surveys to understand what they want and how you can deliver it.
- Carefully review your reviews: While it’s important to ask questions of your customers and listen to their responses, some of the most important feedback you’ll get is unsolicited. Each customer review should be looked at as a miniature focus group. If the customer had a positive experience with your brand, respond warmly and celebrate the win. For the inevitable negative experiences, respond as quickly as possible so they don’t rot on the vine.
- Let your customer service shine: The best way to prove that you have heard your customers is through your actions. Resolve issues quickly and never let a negative review linger without a thoughtful response. As a rule of thumb, do what’s expected by your customers, then take it one step further. This “finessing the finish” approach is a proven way to grow your business.
- Foster brand loyalty: Don’t think of growth only in terms of attracting new business. It’s even more important to retain your core customers. By rewarding them for their continued business, you’ll build devotion that makes a huge impact on your bottom line.
- Be a social media presence: Successful businesses go where their customers go. And it’s a safe bet that your customers are on social media. By investing in a social media presence, you’ll be able to join the conversation. It’s a powerful way to learn more about your customer’s behavior and discover new ways to meet their needs.
- Know your competitors: Understanding your industry is essential to thriving within it. Research how your competitors are positioning themselves so that you can learn from their strategies and stand out clearer than ever.
- Form strategic partnerships: It’s always wise to forge connections within your industry. Look first for like-minded companies that can add to your strategic initiatives and enable you to find new customers. Then look outside your industry for other potential partnerships that will help you spread the word.
- Go to networking events: One of the best ways to meet people is to go where large groups of people are meeting. This approach sounds obvious, but many small businesses fail to leverage networking events to meet new partners, employees, customers, or investors.
- Go to trade shows: While all manner of networking events can be valuable, trade shows are particularly important for niche businesses. Think about it. A large group of individuals will travel from around the nation to celebrate, discuss, and promote the very thing you do. Deliberately choose the trade shows that most relate to your growth goals, then make sure you have a solid presence there.
- Think about the blockchain: Regardless of your industry, it’s likely that blockchain technology will become a factor sooner than later. Take the time now to learn about it so you can find ways to incorporate it into your operations. If this new technology seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Simply knowing what it is will put you ahead of most competitors. Learning how to effectively implement it can happen later.
- Focus your advertising: It’s no coincidence that the companies that grow are also the companies that connect with their customers. Don’t waste another minute on generic banner ads or shotgun style emails. Use the insights you’ve gained through customer research to speak to them how, when, and where they most want it.
- Track the results: Your best advertising efforts are partially wasted if you’re not tracking their effectiveness and learning from the results. Data is always treasured by growing companies. And why wouldn’t it be? By tracking your ads, you’ll find the best messages, calls-to-action, and other elements. If you’re not sure where to start your tracking efforts, try Facebook’s user-friendly Creative Compass tool.
- Keep your people happy: There’s wisdom in always making sure you keep your house in order. If you put too much focus on those outside your walls, you may find that engagement and productivity decline. By treating your people as priorities, you can keep the home fires burning. One of the most powerful ways to help your people feel valued is to consult with them on major initiatives. By getting their feedback and improving things where possible, you’ll establish a culture where your people feel heard and respected.
- Make remote a possibility: Lots of employees these days prefer the ability to work remotely. Perhaps that’s not conducive to your business operations, but it should at least be discussed. Showing your people that you care about their needs will boost engagement and retention. And when those 2 factors rise, your bottom line always follows suit.
- Embrace your corporate social responsibility: Modern consumers want to do more than just consume. They want to support businesses that are making a positive impact in their communities, nations, or the world at large. Let your company culture be your guide as you find worthy causes to support. Not only will this endear your brand to current and future customers, but it’ll stoke pride within the ranks.
- Improve your products or services: If you want to expand your business, pledge right now never to let yourself rest on your laurels. If you have a superior product or service, that’s great. The problem is that you’ve created a standard with that product or service, and your competitors are racing to beat it. You can maintain your customer loyalty and attract new buyers by looking for ways to innovate on what is already working for your company.
Putting Your Plans into Action
If the list above feels a little overwhelming, don’t worry about tackling them all at once. In fact, don’t worry about ever tackling them all. Rather, choose 1 or 2 things you can do now to strengthen your business. Once you’ve seen success with those initiatives, add another to the mix.
This piece-by-piece approach is how the legendary Michel Lotito once ate an entire airplane. It took 2 years, but he ate small pieces every day until the Cessna 150 was gone.
Another thing to remember is that no business owner is an island. Entrust those around you to help you make your dreams a reality.
“When you’re growing your business, you might become protective,” says entrepreneurial expert Mike Kappel. “You might want to do everything yourself to protect your business from outsiders and big changes. But, this protection could hurt your business. If you try to do everything yourself, you can become burnt out. And without outside input, you might not have the necessary creativity to grow your business. You have people you can rely on to help you get things done. Your employees can do many of the tasks in your business. You can hire independent contractors to help. You might also seek help from business experts and local business owners who already have experience with what you’re trying to do.”
By strategically selecting new initiatives and then tackling them as a team, you’ll put your small business on a trajectory to become a bigger business. Each success will pave the way for more. Call it entrepreneurial inertia, if you like. The point is that you need to be pushing upward, not simply forward, to grow.