Guide to small business growth
If you’re a small business owner, chances are you like it that way. Sure, there are those who dream of becoming the next Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, but research shows that the majority of you are happy with the KISS concept – Keep It Small & Successful.
Of course that doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow at all -- success relies on growth. But, how much growth, what kind and where do you begin? No matter where you are in the lifespan of your business, these easy tips will help you confidently grow your small business, your way.
Mix up your marketing.
A surefire way to grow your business is to get people excited about your products or services. Banners, posters, brochures and postcards are easy and effective ways to get the word out about sales, events and other promotions. Start small, perhaps with postcards that have your logo and company message on them. Mail them out or add them to your packaging. Hang them on bulletin boards and leave stacks on your counter for customers to take and share. Adding a coupon or some other discount is a great way to entice customers to return.
Once you have a look and feel for your business brand, don’t hesitate to create a matching set of marketing products. This creates a cohesive, professional look.
Signs and posters are eye-catching and easily seen from afar. Display them outside to attract passersby, and hang them strategically inside your store to guide and inform customers. Use bold, bright messaging and images to gain maximum attention.
Brochures, rack cards and flyers allow you to present more detailed information about your business. Use photos and clear, concise messaging to tell potential customers everything you want them to know. These products have plenty of room for pricing, service lists and menus, too.
Amp up your staffing.
When you start your own business you wear many hats. But after you’ve established yourself, it might be time to give up one or two of your sombreros. Sure it costs money to hire employees, but think of what you could do with all the time it opens up for you: Organize, plan, do inventory, order or create new products, spruce up your shop, tend to your social networking and advertising – all things that will ultimately help your business thrive (and make more money).
Yes, it’s hard to give up control, but delegating is an important part of being the boss. Start small. Think of what you could really use help with (and could actually trust someone else to do). Maybe it’s as simple as stocking shelves or mopping the floor and tidying things up. It could be helping with a mailing list, website or new marketing materials. As the owner, you know there are myriad responsibilities, large and small, in your company’s day-to-day upkeep. Once you’ve started to hand over the reins just a little, it gets easier each time.
Expand your network.
Networking is a common catchphrase these days, and for good reason: When you network, you’re throwing out tendrils like webs that expand exponentially, allowing you to reach more customers, enter new markets, learn best practices, discover the latest trends and unlock all kinds of potential for growth.
Start by being in touch with your local business organizations and attending community events. Hand out your business card and any promotional products, coupons or marketing materials you have. Be approachable, friendly and available to chat and answer questions about yourself and your business.
Consider teaming up with other businesses that provide similar or complementary services. Co-host events, like sidewalk sales and other promotions, and give out each other’s business cards or coupons. Businesses helping other businesses is a total win-win.
Find out when there are local networking forums or conventions and seminars that relate to your business. Attending these events will inspire you and help you be a better businessperson, and they’re ideal opportunities to talk to others with similar interests and experience. Don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards – the original networking tool.
While we’re on the subject of networking tools, have you gone digital yet? To truly increase your reach, your company needs an Internet presence. Creating a custom website is simple these days and allows you to instantly become a global company. Just remember to keep your site up to date and relevant. Potential customers get bored seeing the same old sales or product photos. Try to refresh your homepage at least every two weeks or so.
Embrace social media.
Once you’ve developed your web presence, create accounts on a few of the major social networks and then sit back and see how word of mouth can spread awareness about your business. Just kidding. As powerful as word of mouth marketing is, you know there is no sitting back and relaxing for small business owners. Don’t be scared to ask customers to write reviews on your social accounts. And be sure to post friendly responses and reach out with answers or assistance when appropriate.
Social media is a cost-effective way to spread the word about your business in the digital atmosphere, but it’s not enough to just have accounts; you have to be active on them as well. Posting a few times per week about specials or new products/services is a great way to keep your followers’ attention.
Be prepared to go big.
Ever see those elaborate attention-getting booths at events and trade shows—with all kinds of cool giveaways and promotions—and feel like it is too much work to prepare your business for this type of event? Maybe it’s time to reconsider.
Conferences, trade shows and other big events are the perfect way to present your products and services to a targeted audience of interested, potential customers. And attendance doesn’t have to be expensive. A table, some bold signs with your logo, and a brief, easy-to-read message are really all you need for the booth itself. Then just have some handouts describing your company and giveaways with your logo on them.
Postcards, flyers or brochures—and plenty of business cards, of course—are all effective and inexpensive ways to spread the word. Promotional products are an easy, fun way to stay top of mind—and you don’t always have to order a huge minimum quantity to get good deals on them.
Small steps lead to big growth.
However big or small you want your company to be, continued growth is a must in order to be successful. When you take the first step, the others become easy. Start where it makes sense for you. Don’t be afraid to network, hire, go digital and go big. Just don’t try to do it all in one day. Here’s to big success for your small business. Good luck!