Welcome to a new period in the life of your business!
We’re sure you’re ready to pounce on shiny new opportunities. Or maybe refresh your products and services to make your offerings more competitive this year?
Sure, we can think of heaps of benefits of growing our own small business. We could produce more standard products (hence putting up more pages on our website) to attract more customers. Done just right, this would increase our sales. And then we live happily ever after.
Well, not quite.
Sometimes, successfully growing your small business means having the restraint to not “grow” it at all. Sounds like bad advice? Hear us out.
Being a small business means we are lean and mean, on a modest budget for operational costs, with members of the team each specializing on the really important stuff. If we went gung ho and started expanding our business just because we wanted to take a bigger piece of the pie, our brand pillars (QUALITY, SERVICE, PRICE,PRODUCTS) would suffer. Apart from overtime days, we’d probably be working at lower efficiency rates. Answering customer queries—the touchpoint for turning leads into sales—would suffer major lags for sure.
Before you take action to up the ante, the smartest thing for you to do is to assess your performance to see whether you are ready to grow. Expanding your business is best when you are already operating efficiently.
Boost business with these tips
1.Set aside a day or two and do a SWOT Analysis (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) of your small business.
Fundamental step—Do not bypass!
There are many ways that your business can grow. For you to be able to see whether you are taking the right steps, consider analyzing the biz first. This will allow you to see a bird’s eye view of how and where you are in the market. With this guided information “map”, you’ll be able to decide prudently what your next steps should be.
Don’t make the mistake of chasing after what the hottest trend is or what your major competitor is doing. Be unique, not better, and take careful stock of what’s really going on internally and externally in your business.
2. If you are ready to grow, be sure to stronghold this with thoughtful planning.
So you’ve done it. With orders being delivered left and right, happy customers spreading the good news about you to friends, and profits abound, you now want to seriously grow your business. You’ve proven that your system is great and all your hard work is paying off and it is time to capitalize on your success.
Hold on. Yes, risks come with business; but remember that a good business is a sustainable business. Growing too quickly can risk depleting your resources, putting pressure on management and staff and financial structures. The smartest thing you can do is to learn about Risk Management. Better yet, get the help of a professional so that you are able to transition gracefully. Develop mitigation strategies with your team to reduce the probability that a risk will materialize. You don’t want any surprises that will hurt your business!
3. Knowledge is power—Invest in yourself!
Are you doing the same strategy you did last year? While it’s not bad practice to bring up your Lazarus files from time to time, it does take innovation to keep you always ahead of the game. The best way to truly connect with your customers is to keep an ear on the ground at all times and to apply new learnings to keep up with their ever-changing needs and behaviour.
What do your customers need, and what are you currently offering? Are you still romancing them with novel opportunities, adding value to your products or services? Don’t get trapped in a dusty corner—Set aside important days in your calendar year and attend workshops, seminars, trade events, even Google Hangouts with leaders in the industry, to build on what you already know. Any new system, technology, or best practice that will help you streamline your operations, help with your R&D, beef up your customer service performance, or make your webpage more engaging and dynamic, you should be on it. Keep up, your small business depends on it.
4. Get well-connected. Visibility and relationship marketing is key.
So you’ve pumped yourself up with heaps of industry intel and the newest business strategies. Armed to the teeth, you are ready for an explosive year. Any moment now…
Erm, why does the sound of crickets figure largely in this picture? Hey, where are the frickin fireworks?!
And this is the problem many face. If you’ve been a good trooper and have done your homework, maybe it’s time to move away from the academics and build on your street smarts. To really understand what’s in the now, don’t put off your outreach programs. To thrive as a small business means you need to be connected to the people who are making it happen.
Simply extend your efforts to get on Google+ or LinkedIn, or any main community group in your industry, and actively participate in relevant discussion groups. This will help you and your business reach more people of interest. Small businesses active in social media are more likely to be on the cutting edge of what’s in the now, and become well-connected with domestic and international communities. Advance one step more by grabbing every chance to talk with customer groups, suppliers, and other businesses that can augment your own products and services. Meeting them face-to-face not only gives you more visibility and fleshes out your brand to people—this also is a good device for you to gain invaluable ideas and create content that you can share with your online audience.
5. Realign with your team and come up with targeted, fresh promotions.
Apart from revisiting the gooey foundational branding stuff, a new year is a perfect time for refreshing your business cards, catalogues, and marketing and promotions kits. It’s also a bonzer opportunity to try out new ideas for both contests and deals to incentivise more people to try your product or service.
Being a small business, opt for the many low-cost (others are free!) promotions that take advantage of local and international events with “built-in audiences”. After optimizing your webpages, updating your product photos and descriptions, and making sure your shopping cart system is well-oiled, do a nice promotion that people will truly benefit from and share. Consider allowing for sponsorships to help local fairs or to support your favourite cause, free sampling and couponing to excite new and current customers, or hosting a speaking engagement (online or offline) that can certainly build your reputation and street credit with the community.
Let’s all resolve to find success in the New Year!
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So, are you ready for growth this year? How do you plan to achieve your goals?
See you in the comments box below!
Thanks for dropping by, and hooroo for now!