Everyone wants their business to grow. But how to make that happen isn’t always clear. Growth often seems to happen randomly to the lucky few whose businesses magically explode overnight. And when you ask these owners how they did it, how their business became so successful, they shrug and look just as baffled as you are. Or in some cases, they refer to their massive social media following or how they created a radical, new product or, even worse, say something really vague about it being “just the right timing.”
With examples like these, it’s easy to get discouraged. Most small merchants aren’t social media stars, inventors or timing experts. But this shouldn’t cause you concern. Even though it’s not as sensational or easily noticed, the majority of business growth doesn’t happen overnight. The truth is, small businesses grow with hard work, careful planning, trial and error, creativity, patience, and most importantly, consistency.
And while growth occurs differently for different merchants, there are a few common denominators. So, to help give you a kickstart, here are three tried and true ways to grow your small business.
NURTURE EXISTING CLIENTS
When you start focusing on business growth, it’s easy to make your existing clients a second priority. But this is a mistake. Your existing clients are your foundation for growth because they have the potential to become your advocate by referring your business to other people or telling their friends and family how much they love your brand, service and products. As we all know, word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to bring in new customers, so you need to keep investing in your existing clients if you want business to grow. There’s a few ways you can do this. First, spend some time getting to know them. What are their needs and wants? What products and services do they like? What could you do to better meet their needs? What makes them feel appreciated? Once you find those answers, integrate them into your business’ existing processes and strategy.
Second, keep in touch with your clients in the way that’s most convenient for them. If they like email newsletters, create a newsletter. If they live on social media, start snapping, posting and tweeting. If they prefer text messaging or simply face-to-face communication, start talking to them that way. Look for ways to continue to build your relationship with them and to keep them up-to-date on your business’s latest products, services, changes and sales in a way that’s easy for them to share with their own network.
Finally, find ways to reward your clients for choosing you as their merchant of choice. Loyalty programs are a great way to do this and they have the added benefit of helping you track your clients’ spending choices, patterns and preferences, giving you more information to better customize your business to their inclinations.
SPOIL YOUR CUSTOMERS
This one’s a no brainer, but excellent customer service goes a long way. It keeps current clients coming back, it turns them into brand evangelists and creates a great reputation for your business. If you want to take your customer service up a notch, spend some time thinking through the pain points in your shopping and purchasing process. Once you find those pain points, figure out ways to alleviate them or eliminate them completely. Do away with cumbersome administrative work and processes full of red tape. Always have knowledgeable staff members available to answer questions and address concerns. Then, take a look at what your competitors are doing and find ways to differentiate your service from theirs. Customers are often times willing to pay more for a product if they know they’re getting better service as part of the bargain. Ultimately, people want to purchase from people they can trust to treat them well. Be that person, and you’ll see your small business grow.
Don’t sit on the sidelines and expect people to come to you. Instead, create ways for you to go to the people through events. This is often times easier than you may think. If you want to start small, get involved in local networking opportunities. Your local chamber of commerce and other professional networking groups are great places to get plugged in. Not only will you be promoting your business, you could also meet potential partners or vendors and even pick up a few tips and tricks from other business owners. Next, look for ways to host your own events since they are a great way to generate excitement, energy and curiosity that attracts new customers. As you plan your event, work with partners and loyal customers to spread the word while promoting your event on social media and in-store. You can also take your business on the go by setting up a booth at festivals, conferences or markets, which are excellent venues for connecting with potential customers who you wouldn’t otherwise reach.
Finally, don’t miss out on the chance to give back to your community through sponsorships or fundraisers. A little corporate responsibility can go a long way in building goodwill, promoting your brand and establishing yourself as not only a trustworthy company to do business with, but also an integral pillar in the community. If you want to learn more about event marketing, check out one of our articles about this subject here.
You don’t have to leave business growth up to fate. With a clear vision of where you want to go, a few well-crafted strategies to get you there and the dedication to consistently put in the daily work, your business won’t just grow, it will thrive.