Grow Your Small Business Fast with These Strategies
BY: MATT SHEALY ON MONDAY, JANUARY 14, 2019
If you’re one of the small business owners out there who already has some industry knowledge, consider yourself lucky. Many people starting out have no idea where to begin, and the expertise that comes with years of experience in education and professional work cannot be emphasized enough for its importance.
If you are starting your own business and have no prior experience being your own boss, you don’t have to panic. Every major company from Starbucks to Amazon started off as a simple idea, and with the right amount of help, you can turn your small business into a success.
Planting the Seeds for Your Small Business
One of the first things you need to know about managing and growing your small business is how to get organized. If you have no prior experience in the business world, you’ll need to learn some fundamentals before you begin to design a website or come up with a slogan.
Here are some ideas for you to naturally expand the potential for your business and inspire organic growth to reach new potential clients. Use the steps we provide below to spend less time on your eBay account and more time constructing a great product listing.
Inspect Your Competition
Let’s say you are selling car parts. When you are targeting new customers, you’ll need to figure out how many other places like AutoZone, Pep Boys, or NAPA locations are already in your territory.
If you see something that works for one of your competitors, don’t be afraid to borrow the concept. And, you can always lift something you see on Similar Web. There are reasons companies succeed or fail, and if you have a guaranteed success in your pocket, why not take advantage of it?
Create a Marketing List
Every successful product has a publicity campaign behind it. One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your service is an email list. Whether you create it yourself or use the help of someone like GetResponse or ConstantContact, email promotions are some of the quickest ways to target new customers.
Employing an email marketing list will continuously remind your customers of the latest deals you have to offer. Remember to use a catchy, high-impact headline. “20% Off Storewide” is the only headline your customer list needs to see before you start noticing an uptick in website traffic and sales.
Form Business Partnerships
Not everything has to be a competition. If you can find the right company to form a strategic partnership with, the results could pay off for you and your new associate.
Find someone who might be an asset to your company’s existence. If you’re in the auto repair industry, find a graphic designer who can get you the best logo possible, focusing on your expertise with body repairs, glass, or electrical systems.
One great way to form partnerships is to attend “lunch-and-learn” events on topics that are relevant to your business. Also, joining a local business group where everyone meets once a month to get dinner and trade business cards could be the ideal way to meet some new, helpful friends.
One last, easy, and free tip is to go online and find social media groups across the web that match your business and interests. Groups like this are highly interactive, and many offer weekly or even daily tips from administrators or other members. In most groups you can also post questions you may have about aspects of your business - you’ll quickly receive advice from around the country, or even the globe!
Construct Alternate Income Streams
You’re going to be spending a lot of time on your business, and you might not see results immediately. If it’s taking longer than you want, consider the idea of making another income stream that will help you keep the bills at bay.
Penny stocks are your friend, and flipping items from thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist, Facebook’s Marketplace, Let Go, etc. on another eBay account will keep the lights on.
Another easy income stream that is quite flexible is writing. Most online companies that hire freelance writers allow you to work anywhere, anytime. This allows you to work around your already busy schedule.
If you have a bit of extra time on your hands to build another income stream, you can manage to slip up a few times along the way without having to fold your business before it even gets started. The additional resources provided by extra income will help you, and the business, in the long run.
Manage Your Customers
Nobody likes too much paperwork, and if you’re managing a database of customers, you’re already knee-deep in names you don’t recognize. Creating a customer management system will let you devote your time to other aspects of your business while it grows.
When an order comes in for a customized pair of socks, the name on your order email should give you an immediate link to their shipping and billing info. InfusionSoft is a good place to start. Not only does it help take care of your marketing legwork, but it syncs up with many other cloud-based services that you’ll be using in the future.
Discover the World
No matter what your product or service is, there is a market for it somewhere on the planet.
You could try partnering up with Amazon to use their FBA service if you are getting into e-commerce, making the shipping of your products much easier. You won’t have to worry about individually packing up each item you sell and sending it off with orders – just send them all to the warehouse ahead of time, and they’ll do the rest.
Other companies are out there if you need to find someone to hire. Do you have a tight deadline coming up for a new presentation and you can’t find the time to write marketing copy for your website? Freelancers for hire are available on places like Upwork or Freelancer.com when you need the right person to improve your front page or About Us section.
Franchise Your Business
Let’s say your business has already seen significant growth and you’re considering other locations. You might think about creating a franchise model and spreading your business across the area. Granted, this can come with a ton of up-front costs and it may be new territory, but the payoffs are significant.
Another aspect you can look into – selling franchises to others who are interested in the same business.
Or, once you’ve built your business up, you could sell to a larger company. Many entrepreneurs have built up a business, just to turn around and sell it for millions.
Growing Your Business Through People
Expanding your small business is about more than just the financial success. A bigger bottom dollar is great, but it won’t mean much if it doesn’t happen repeatedly.
Employ these strategies to ensure the continued growth and reach of your small business:
Keep It Simple
You’ve probably heard this expression over and over again, but there’s a reason “Keep It Simple” has been a mantra for so many different industries. It can be tempting in business and creativity to try many new hats all at once, but that won’t work for a new business trying to find its footing.
If you are selling sports memorabilia, don’t branch into sports video games. Extending your reach too far will get you burned, and too many other bigger businesses already offer more than one type of product under one roof. Stick to what works for you and reflect this in your product descriptions and store policies.
Once you have earned a steady source of revenue and know your regulars, consider offering them the first opportunity at anything new from your catalog. Expanding your existing specialties is different from trying to sneak into another market entirely.
Trim the Fat
Things don’t always work out, and you’ll find that this applies to both people and ideas. If you have a partner or employee who isn’t gelling with the company’s philosophy or plan of action, don’t be afraid to speak up and cut ties when needed. In the small business world, you can’t afford the mistakes that one person might cause if they are a large part of your daily operations.
Since this is your business, you are also free to make decisions about how to handle planning your business - from publicity to execution. This is the advantage of owning a small business – you are free to make your own successes and failures. If you sell small appliances like microwaves or toasters, and you think you need to branch into a bigger size, test the waters with a new email campaign about ovens. The same people who have bought other smaller items from you will often be the first to come to you for larger devices.
Social Media Campaigns
It should go without saying, but one of the most important aspects of any small business is a solid social media presence. In a world where everyone has immediate access to the entire business landscape, you can’t afford to be left in the dust.
Start out by creating profiles on as many different accounts as you want to reach. A Facebook page is a good start, but you can also expand your opportunities with Twitter and Instagram profiles.
Never underestimate the power of a good hashtag to help you increase your business presence online. Look for and make lists of your business categories top hashtags and remember to utilize them on every post.
Visuals will also help your business in immeasurable ways. Nobody likes a page with nothing but lines of text Break up the monotony of a timeline with a great GIF or a meme you noticed that’s relevant to you and your product or service.
People also love a #BTS – a behind the scenes look. It’s exclusive so it makes them feel special. Try some short Facebook Live videos to amp up views. Facebook has placed a higher value on their own video format, so using this (over uploading a separate video) will place you higher on their rankings – meaning you’ll get more views.
Even if all you did was make someone laugh, they’ll remember it, and they will be more likely to share your original post with someone else, who might spread it further.
Temper Your Ambitions
Speaking of scope, it’s a good idea to ensure that you have a clear outline for what you want to reach with your business.
If you’re only a year into the game, it’s likely that you are frustrated by what you see as a lack of growth. There’s no need to panic over a lack of Twitter followers or advertising revenue. You’re still new, and if you reel in the size of your expectations, you’ll feel better about the future of your business.
Your business is an investment. Overnight success stories come and go, and if it doesn’t happen for you, it means you have to work as hard as anybody else. Let any frustration motivate you to sell more or reach new clients. If you turn negatives into positives, the results will show up in your business bank account.
Work Smarter and Faster
Usually, it’s “work smarter”, not faster, but there’s a way to do both. If you have a given timeframe for a job or service that you provide, take a close look at the amount of time it takes to pull off one job. Are you capable of condensing three weeks into two and a half? This could leave the door open for extra work or some time off, depending on what your priorities are.
Set up a free app on your phone or an online task manager to help you keep close track of your time. This will help you find areas you can speed up, trim, or even eliminate altogether.
If you’re finding it hard to manage your time with so much work coming in, this might be the time to consider bringing on some additional help. It could be someone out in the field with you, or an assistant who can manage the books and handle any contacts you need throughout the workday. Even a social media assistant could be the difference between extra profit and having to scrape by for a week.
Follow the Audience
When you have built up a solid following on one of your social media accounts, dig a little deeper. Find the names of your followers and see what they are liking and commenting on before visiting the same hangouts they frequent. If you sell tea and they share lots of their favorite flavors, follow the same accounts they like, and make an account inside the forums where they post.
Eventually, you will become noticed not just as a professional in your business, but a wise member of the community who knows the kinds of necessary recommendations in a conversation. You’ll be more than just a seller to a community that keeps its interests close to heart.
Reward Your Customers
During the last time you bought coffee or ate at one of your favorite restaurants, did you use a reward to get a discount or a free item? The idea of cashing in your loyalty points is enough to keep you coming back, and there’s no reason you can’t use the same kind of system to keep people returning to your business.
Rewarding your repeat customers goes a long way to make sure they stay a regular for the long run. Send each of them an email reminder about using their loyalty points at random intervals, another perk for signing up for your email campaign. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to keep the same customers coming back over and over again than it is to create new ones.
Also, holidays are the perfect time to remind people about your product, and a holiday-themed email campaign exclusively for rewards members will get your regular customers’ attention.
Build a Referral Network
Once you have established clients, find out what sort of “quid pro quo” they can offer. You don’t even have to know them in person - but establishing social media relationships with some of your regulars can make a huge difference in the product or service results for your sales.
One route to take is to find out what sort of referrals would be best for both you and your network. Some of the best partnerships can contribute to rapid growth.
Perhaps you can partner up to offer a package deal if your businesses are similar enough. Or, when a client makes a purchase at one of your stores – coupons, pamphlets, etc. could be sent with their purchase for the other partner’s products.
You could also include mention of and links to each other’s websites in your regular emails to your business list.
More Ways to Grow Your Small Business
We’ve touched on sales and organic growth for your small business, but how else could you get your name out there and keep it in the spotlight?
One of the easiest things to do as a small business owner is to be consistent. Look at why others have folded and figure out their mistakes. Use what they couldn’t accomplish to your advantage and determine why they weren’t able to sell.
The need for consistency applies not only to your business, but your personality. An engaging social media presence will do wonders for your platform, so you should stick with rituals throughout the week.
Focus on certain quotes, or facts about your business, or something that interests you to keep people fixed on your profile, and they will begin to associate your product with you when they want to restock.
Also, listing tips that your readers can use creates value – which will give them a real reason to follow you. Your content should be approximately 20/80, 20% business info, ads, etc. and 80% enjoyable, fun, helpful content.
Another tip, if you have a bad experience with a customer, find out what went wrong by reaching out to them. Their demands might be very simple, and a listening ear might be the difference between one lost sale and someone who will return multiple times in the future.
Knowing that there is a human on the other side of the phone or computer screen is enough to bring people back again and again.
Grow Your Small Business Over Time
With the right amount of tactics and patience, you can grow your small business into the success story you have dreamt about. Once you find the correct combination of publicity, quality products/services, and media awareness, you’ll be the authority on how to become successful in small business.
In time, you can extend your reach, and go on to sell your services as an expert in the world of small business. Your success will bring more success if you are willing to try.