Monday May 25, 2015
Growing a business is hard work. There’s a reason so many small businesses don’t make it past the first year. Growth takes time, resources, and a lot of energy from the business owner. It also requires a clear plan for how growth will be achieved and supported.
So many of the small businesses we work with have so much potential, without even realizing it. They want more customers, but aren’t sure how they’ll support them. They’re afraid to invest in new opportunities, because resources are so tight. They’re worried about creating too much work for themselves.
Does this sound like your business? Are you limiting your growth with your own fears?
At AllProWebTools, we’ve helped small businesses all over the country to confront those fears. We see growth as something you can plan for. Putting scalable systems and processes in place can help propel your business to the next level, and make sure you’re ready to meet the demand.
No matter what kind of business you own, you can find a growth strategy that works for you. (Hint: I recommend reading through all the tips, as most of them aren’t exclusive to the one type of business)
If you’re going solo, it can be hard to imagine a growth plan that doesn’t involve way too much work for you. You probably already operate at full capacity.
You do the rewarding work that you started the business to pursue, of course. You also promote the business in search of new customers. And you have to do the administrative work that happens behind the scenes of any business.
But trust me, you can grow your business all on your own, without driving yourself crazy. Here are a few options you might want to look into more closely.
- Automate email marketing campaigns
- Schedule newsletters, blog posts, and social media in advance
- Use a tasking system to get your priorities straight each day
- Track your time to make sure your time is going where the money’s coming from
- Outsource the tasks that drain a disproportionate amount of your energy
You need to find ways to spend your valuable time doing what only you can do. Everything else? Find a way to automate or outsource it.
Local Service Sector
Owners of service businesses often feel that their growth potential is limited by geography. Of course, this is true to some extent. But even in a relatively small town, there’s almost always room for expansion. You’ll need a plan to achieve that growth.
Here are some strategies to consider:
- Utilize locally-specific keywords to help the right people find you on Google
- Initiate a word-of-mouth referral campaign
- Create a network of affiliates to send business your way
- Track how your staff spend company time
- Analyze which marketing campaigns are performing well so you can focus your time and money
When planning a growth strategy for a local service business, think depth rather than breadth. You can’t extend beyond your local region, but you can find ways to reach deeper into that community.
So called “Main Street” businesses are what comes to mind for most people when they think “small business.” They’re the mom and pops, the local shops, boutiques, and artistsans. They can be either B2B or B2C, or some combination.
Usually the bulk of their revenue comes from a brick and mortar store. They are a “local” business. But do they have to be just a local business? Read more about how and why small businesses should expand beyond the scope of “local” in this article by AllProWebTools founder Dave Kramer.
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Create an ecommerce storefront to complement your brick and mortar location
- Produce valuable content about your industry to position yourself as an expert
- Think of your business as “personal” rather than local
- Write a blog that connects you to your target customers worldwide
- Consider using pay-per-click advertising to reach new audiences
You can start small with this—there’s no need to start selling every product from your website. You could just start with a few highly-popular items. You can even just restrict certain content on your website to paying members.
A few small changes can supplement your income and get you started expanding your reach.
For those small businesses that already operate primarily online, growth is all about getting your brand, product, and content in front of new audiences.
- Extend the reach of your website with SEO (search engine optimization, PPC (pay-per-click advertising), and content marketing
- Mobile-optimize your ecommerce site to increase conversions from mobile devices
- Implement upselling campaigns, cart auto-fills, or suggest products
- Follow up on abandoned carts with a phone call or emailed coupon
- Optimize your landing pages, product pages, and more with A/B testing
There are nearly infinite strategies for growing ecommerce companies. You can find many suggestions on the AllProWebTools blog, on Entrepreneur.com, and in countless other places.
Always focus on reaching new audiences and reinforcing your branding in their minds.
Really, that’s the goal for any growth campaign. Whether you’re aiming for depth or breadth of reach, never stop striving for more!
Any other must-know ideas for growing small businesses? Let me know in the comments!