Understanding how to grow your small business is the first step towards implementing best practices and strategies which will lead to increased sales, increased revenue and a guaranteed return on investment.
Business growth requires a proactive, committed approach, especially because the complexity of businesses and the marketplace can make growth a long and difficult process. Practicality and positivity are both key to achieving your goals. Through hard work, innovation and drive, becoming a medium or large business is well within your reach.
At Leading Edge Only, we have strong partnerships with businesses of all sizes and an intimate understanding of how exactly they have grown to their current levels of success and security. We aim to partner small businesses with keen innovators, because we know that innovation is at the heart of growth and transformation.
This post was created to answer all of your questions about how to grow your small business. You will need to draw on all available resources and avenues, and understand that growth will not happen overnight. With this changed perspective, growth is well within your grasp. Our 20 top ways to grow your business have been compiled through extensive research, and are an unmatched resource for business owners and managers seeking expansion and opportunity:
- Know Your Customers
- Great Customer Service
- Networking Events
- Community Outreach
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Engender Loyalty
- Social Media And Branding
- Take Out A Loan
- Procure Additional Funding
- Invest In Your Team
- Celebrate The Small Wins
- Find A Business Mentor
- Know Your Competition
- Identify New Opportunities
- Diversify Your Offering
- Plan For Failure
- Avoid Bad Practice
- Know Your Worth
- Partner With An Innovator
Know Your Customers
Developing an understanding of the marketplace will help you to remain competitive and relevant. Understanding who your customers are and what products and services they are interested in is vital. It will allow you to address customer needs, in terms of both products and services, and provides insight into where you should be advertising your offerings to maximise sales and drive profits.
Some great ways to get to know your customers include social media and community outreach, both of which are covered later in this post. Further effective methods include conducting a customer needs analysis survey, examining relevant metrics and tracking keywords.
Great Customer Service
Customer service should be a priority. This is because it is one of the easiest ways to retain customers, and transform a first time buyer into a regular. Great customer service will boost your reputation, and being known as a compassionate, helpful, customer-first business is likely to generate loyalty, recognition and repeat business.
There are a huge number of customer service options which you could be offering, including: email, phone, social media, in-person and an interactive virtual assistant. With so many options, you don’t need a dedicated customer service team. A streamlined process, guaranteeing rewarding, productive conversations and solutions is all that you need.
Forming long-lasting relationships with other businesses can be incredibly rewarding, and useful when you are seeking to make deals or secure business through referrals, recommendations or word of mouth. Networking at a specific event will allow you to meet people that are directly relevant to your industry. It is also your opportunity to make online connections on LinkedIn, and utilise the platform to its fullest potential, updating your page and boosting your online presence.
Becoming involved within the local community establishes the importance of your business within the area, and provides an added incentive for people to purchase your goods and services. This is because your small business represents job opportunities and a booming local economy. There are so many ways that you can get involved in the community, such as volunteering with charities or schools or creating products and services which will specifically benefit, or are personalised to, the locale.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Although similar to community outreach, this must be carried out on a much larger scale. Corporate social responsibility is about holding yourself and your business accountable- socially, environmentally and philanthropically. Putting a statement on your website means that anyone interested in your business has access to your ethos and message, committing you to your promises. It is a great way to bolster your image and brand, and if you are able to provide proof of your actions, you are guaranteed to gain credibility and loyalty.
Some of the topics we have already covered will have had a great positive impact on customer loyalty. That just goes to show how important it is when trying to attain business growth. Loyal customers will remain with your business throughout its journey, supporting you in any way that best suits them. This could be anything from engaging with you online, to regularly purchasing your products.
A good way to engender loyalty is to create a customer loyalty program. It is important that such a program is interesting and useful, providing them with an incentive to be there and spend their money. Even something as simple as allowing them to be the first to hear about discounts and promotions is incredibly effective in retaining old customers and gaining new ones.
Social Media And Branding
A frequent question for business owners and the business-minded is, “how do you grow your small business with marketing”. A really simple answer resides in the way you use social media and establish your brand online. The social media platforms you use (whether it is Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn) should be active, and be an accurate reflection of your business offering, ethos and story. The same rule applies to your branding, and wider online perception. A cost-effective method of ensuring this is to invest in social media training, or to hire a digital marketing agency, as the benefits and return far outweigh the initial costs.
Just three posts a week per platform is often enough to keep your audience engaged and retain the perception that your business is active and vocal within your niche.
Take Out A Loan
This can seem really intimidating, and there are definitely risks associated with taking out a loan. This is primarily because you need to be able to pay the money back, as well any interest which may have been accrued. However, taking out a loan can be extremely useful as you can use it as the capital necessary to achieve business goals, such as purchasing more space or funding a new venture. To minimise the risks, both personally and professionally, you should consult a financial adviser, and ensure you are partnering with the best bank or lending firm for your needs.
Procure Additional Funding
If you don’t want to apply for a loan, this could be a good alternative. A huge capital is not essential for business growth, but it is helpful, especially when used effectively. Procuring additional funding is a deliberately vague heading, because there are so many things that you could be doing to put more money into your small business. You could make licensing deals, consider franchising, build passive income streams, find a business partner or find a third-party investor. Prior to taking any next steps with such ideas, you should once again consult a financial advisor.
Acquiring an outsourcing partner is not limited to large enterprises, and can actually prove intensely valuable for small businesses seeking to grow. Outsourcing is when some of your work is completed elsewhere, by a third-party, and so you do not need to invest in the facilities, workforce and training required to do it properly in-house. This is great if you require a one-off product, or if you are attempting to diversify your offering and would like to determine how popular your new venture is before commiting to the necessary expenses.
Invest In Your Team
Your workforce is integral to your business and without them any kind of growth or longevity would be impossible. This is why you should invest in your team. One great way to do this is by ensuring they have regular training. A survey showed that 76% of professionals want to know about on-the-job training within the first week of a new job, demonstrating the importance of engaging your employees. It will make them feel valued, consequently making them more enthusiastic and productive, while providing you with some of the most well-trained and knowledgeable staff in the industry.
However, remember to incentivise your staff so you retain the talent after you’ve nurtured it. The last thing you want is to train up your employees, then have them move to pastures new. Incentives can include anything from regular salary reviews, to company benefits packages, healthcare, social events, and job title promotions.
Celebrate The Small Wins
It is important to find the good in the things you are currently doing, and in the progress that you have already made. This is essential to establishing a positive mindset, and cultivating a business culture which colleagues find rewarding and inviting (rather than intimidating and goal-driven). Celebrating your wins, no matter how small, can be as simple as recognising them in conversation or in a business email. This kind of positive reinforcement is guaranteed to boost morale, and a happy working environment can only benefit your business and aid output and growth.
Find A Business Mentor
A business mentor is someone who can dispense sound business advice, based on their own experience, knowledge, skills and contacts. This should be someone, likely in a position of authority, who you trust. It doesn’t have to be limited to one individual, and it can be a paid position, but having someone that you can consult and bounce ideas off is fantastic for developing the right business strategy and deciding where and how you are going to grow. One possible avenue for finding a business mentor is the mentorsme website (UK only).
Know Your Competition
Knowing your competitors, and maintaining an awareness of the strategies they are using and the audiences they are targeting, can help you massively. This is because it can help you to establish goals and benchmarks, both of which will lead to growth. You can use your competition as inspiration, especially when it comes to innovating a better version of a product or presenting yourself in front of a new target audience. An effective way to do this is to undergo a thorough and regular analysis of the competition, including their metrics.
Identify New Opportunities
A huge part of knowing how to grow your small business is being able to identify new opportunities when they are presented to you, and even when they are not. It is highly likely that there are a wealth of opportunities which you could be pursuing, and so it is your responsibility to remain up-to-date and in-the-know. This is why you need to maintain an awareness of your customer demographics, the foreign markets and other potential industries, all of which you could be involved with.
Diversify Your Offering
If you have already established your business, it is likely that the products and services which you offer are also firmly in place. A good way to reach new markets, access a new customer-base and grow your business, is by diversifying your offering. For example, if you are a website development agency, why not offer website design and support, alongside development? This is an opportunity for you to expand your skills and knowledge, and those of your employees, with an almost guaranteed return on investment.
Plan For Failure
This may seem counterintuitive, especially in light of the famous phrase “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. However, we would argue that it is essential to have a strategy in place that will help you to regroup and rebound when faced with an unexpected setback or an unsuccessful venture. This kind of forward planning and future proofing is crucial to being prepared for anything. A small business which is prepared for any eventuality is likely to grow in a strong, competitive and future-proofed enterprise.
Avoid Bad Practice
Growth-hacking techniques may seem like the easiest way to grow your small business rapidly, but they can actually be a hugely damaging, unethical practice. Black-hat SEO, misleading your customers and falsely green-washing your brand are all tactics that may initially allow you to rapidly grow your small business, before tarnishing your reputation and credibility, losing your hard-earned customer loyalty and destroying any future growth opportunities. There are no shortcuts to growing your small business!
Know Your Worth
Growing your small business is an admirable business goal, and one that you should pursue, but it is important that you know your worth. This should be reflected in all of the choices you make and the strategies you implement, to avoid compromising or losing your Unique Selling Point (USP). Understanding the value of your business, and its contribution to the marketplace and to the consumer, means that you can make informed decisions, especially when bringing more people in or diversifying your offering. It’s important to grow without sacrificing what is important.
Partner With An Innovator
When approaching how to grow your small business, innovation is something which you should be considering every step of the way. This is because it is a tried and tested means of standing out from the competition, meeting customer needs and setting industry trends for years to come. You can incorporate innovation internally, or through innovation outsourcing. Partnering with an innovator outside of your business means that you can begin offering this new product or service almost immediately, and in turn, immediately capitalise upon your new and exciting venture.
How Can Leading Edge Only Help To Grow Your Small Business?
There is a wealth of opportunity for growing your small business. What works best for your business may vary across different industries and specialties, but we are certain that there is something in our 20 top ways to grow your small business for everyone. Innovation is often at the heart of development and success, because striving to innovate is predicated on providing new and exciting solutions and possibilities.
At Leading Edge Only, we provide innovation solutions for our clients by pairing them with leading innovators, thereby solving their business challenges. We are the largest global platform for innovation, and the absolute best at what we do. Growing your small business can seem like a daunting business challenge, but it is one that we are prepared to tackle and achieve together.
If you are interested in finding innovation for small business growth, or would like to know more about the kind of opportunities which we offer, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today by calling us on +44 1234 756 015 or emailing us at [email protected]. We can’t wait to grow and thrive together.