When you started your small business you likely had dreams of being more than just a small business. You wanted to start small, perhaps as an evening side hustle, and grow, but before you can grow your business you need to establish a solid foundation, writes Nick Brogden.
It’s easy to feel as though you’re treading water with your goals so far in the distance you can barely see them, So, how can you build a profitable small business and keep it growing? First of all, it’s worth reminding you that it’s an endurance run, not the 100-metre dash.
Focus on these four areas to grow your business
1. Customer service spotlight
59 per cent of customers who have a poor customer service experience choose to take their custom elsewhere. This advice is two-fold. It isn’t enough to train your employees on giving great customer service. The customer service experience starts much earlier at the recruitment stage. You need to recruit the right employees to join your business.
If you want to create a culture of customer service in your business, it begins with hiring. Once they’re in the door, you can invest in customer service training, review your policies, and look at how you can improve customer service at every level.
When a customer is dissatisfied, they will tell at least nine people about that poor experience. As a small business, you need all the positive word of mouth possible, and the best way to do that is to offer stellar service, outstanding products, and services, and give back to your community.
2. Employee empowerment
You can invest in yourself and invest in your staff to build a better business. So if your growth has enabled you to hire a part-time or even full-time employee it isn’t enough to recruit by just a striking resume. You need to find people with passion for your industry that you can keep and help grow. Recruitment is expensive and time-consuming so, get onboarding right the first time and invest in your employees to keep them around.
Beyond paying them a fair wage, giving them the skills and training they need to do a great job and grow in your company is important. It’s generally harder for soloists as you’re so used to doing everything yourself it can be hard to let go but freeing up your time is an essential part of growing your business.
3. Invest in marketing
You can’t increase your sales unless you invest in your marketing proposition. You can go big without breaking the bank. You can use your invoice system to send out promotions. You can call the local newspaper when you’re holding a charity event, grand opening, or other types of events. You can showcase your products and services by holding free classes, workshops, offering samples, or creating online videos.
You can also cross-promote with other local businesses that complement yours (for example, a flower shop can work with a caterer as both are often enlisted for events). Another inexpensive option is to wrap vehicle(s) to advertise your company.
You can also market in the online world. You should have a website, and it should be optimised for mobile use, you should be on social media, and that’s just for starters. Once you have an online presence, you can look into sponsored posts if you feel they would reach your target audience. At a minimum, you should register your business with search engines to ensure people find accurate information quickly.
4. Manage costs
Business costs count, and it’s important you must keep track of everything. How much are you paying for office space? What about vehicle expenses, paper costs, equipment, staffing, insurance, and everything else you are paying for?
Expenses are tedious to track, but often it’s the easiest place to cut costs. You might be able to save quite a bit of money by moving your offices elsewhere, it could be that you could purchase more of your supplies from one company and save on costs. Moving forward, you can train employees to be mindful of expenses to ensure it becomes part of the company culture.
Using the cloud can help you with cost-cutting. For example, keeping your bookkeeping applications in the cloud means you can access them anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to download and install the software. This requires less maintenance, reduces running costs, requires less labor, and increases productivity.
Every new year should be your best year, you are looking for steady growth on growth on growth. It might be as simple as investing in additional training for a standout employee, or it could be reviewing your costs, changing your business plan, or moving to a new office space. Whatever it takes because you didn’t come this far only to stall out now.
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