People face quite a few challenges when they decide to start their own business. However, it usually comes down to a need for growth. Every aspect of your company needs to keep growing over time. This is an inherently challenging concept. However, the following nine tips can create a solid foundation for the growth of your small business.
1. Understand your customer’s needs
The customer is the foundation of any small business. You should continually look for ways to understand the average customer’s experiences. The best way of doing so is through a dual effort which uses both surveys and reviews.
Some business owners become concerned that this will invite negative reviews. However, the negative experiences are often more important than the positive ones. Fixing a problem one customer has will ensure that future customers won’t feel the same. Understanding a customer’s experiences will ensure that your company grows in a proper direction to attract and maintain those customers.
2. Ensure customer service is always improving
Customers should never feel like they’re walking into an automated system. Instead, every customer should feel like they have a business relationship with the company as a whole. This means that if they have an issue there should be some means in place to address it.
Their issues don’t need to be fixed in that instant. The most important factor is simply ensuring that a customer feels his voice has been heard. CRM systems can help improve customer service on a company wide level. And social media is often a perfect platform to quickly address a customer’s issues.
You should ensure that customers feel that they’re doing business with a person. Customers can find similar goods or services with competitors. But not every company can provide a feeling of appreciation. If you can provide that feeling than you’ve created a tremendous advantage for your company.
3. Keep affirming customer loyalty
Attracting customers is important. However, it’s just as important to ensure those customers keep coming back. A single transaction is a net positive. But returning customers are closer to long term income. As such it should always be a small businesses end goal.
There’s several ways to accomplish this. One of the best methods of increasing customer loyalty is through loyalty rewards. You should find ways of incentivising customers to keep doing business with you. This can come through discounts, advance notifications and similar strategies.
4. Get the most out of social media
Social media is one of the most powerful tools for small businesses. You can use it for almost any of the items listed so far. It’s a great method of demonstrating customer service for example. What’s more, it’s also an effective and cost effective method of advertising.
However, it’s important to frame one’s brand in a positive way when using social media. The platforms can easily become negative at times. And you should always ensure that your own social media presence has a positive feel to it. The main point is to make customers feel they’re heard, promote loyalty and increase brand recognition.
5. Remember the role employees play in professional development
It’s important to focus on the quality of your employees. A small business has smaller number of employees than larger companies. As such, every single employee is a vital part of the team.
This is also where you should reconsider the nature of branding. Branding is important when setting the tone for customer interaction. But a brand also serves to attract potential employees. You should always try to maintain a brand which will make people want to be a part of your business. As such the brand should highlight positive ways of interacting with both internal and external issues.
It’s also just as important for employees to feel they’re being heard as it is for customers. Team building exercises and collaborative tasks are often the best way to accomplish this goal. Employees should always feel like they’re a part of something bigger. When people feel that they’re a part of the company than they usually work hard to do the best possible job.
6. Network with peers in related fields
You should always say yes to any corporate invitation. It doesn’t even matter what the nature of the event might be. The main reason is that the event itself is the least important part of corporate gatherings. There’s usually a good chance that the event will be worthwhile. However, the most important part of a corporate event is the networking.
Talking with peers in related fields is a powerful way of enhancing and growing your various services. This can improve your supply chain, open doors to expansions or form the foundation of future partnerships. An event is usually important in and of itself. But the people attending should always be seen as the main attraction.
7. Don’t forget the role corporate social responsibility plays in success
Passion is the driving force of the business world. Every small business owner knows that it’s a difficult proposition. What really drives people to success in the business world is passion for what they’re doing.
However, you shouldn’t focus the entirety of your passion on the business. Anyone passionate about their work will typically want to leverage the results in other ways. This often manifests as a desire to help various aspects of the world. People often make the mistake of keeping this a private matter. Instead, one should be open about the positive change he wants to make in the world.
When customers know that a company is devoted to a good cause they’ll be more inclined to shop there. For example, consider the case of a company which donates to a specific charity. People who like that charity will want to patronize that company because they know some of their money will go to a good cause.
8. Loans are there for a reason
There’s an old saying that one needs to spend money to make money. Most people in the business world would agree with that sentiment. The mistake people make comes from thinking it’s a limiting factor. Investing in profitable business ventures is a solid financial strategy. And there’s always options out there for loans and investments.
Of course not all loans are approved. If your application is denied than you might be able to work through a SBA loan program. The terms and conditions are often more complex than one would find with a standard loan. But it’s still a solid option to essentially get your foot in the door.
9. Experiment and learn which ideas work best
All of the ideas covered so far can, and should, be implemented in a wide variety of different ways. It’s important to keep in mind that the business world is always changing. There’s quite a few variable which make every business, and every location it operates in, unique. Even chain restaurants find themselves needing to adapt their services to the local culture.
This is why it’s so important to constantly critique the results of your business strategy. There’s almost always room for improvement with even the best strategies. And if a strategy isn’t working than you need to know that as soon as possible. What’s more, it’s important to know why specific strategies are working or failing. You should always work to refine strategies and increase focus on the ideas which are producing the best results.
When considering how to grow your business it’s important to remember that it’s a continual process. The public never stops growing and changing. Likewise their needs continue to grow and evolve over time. Your own goal when learning grow your business is to stay relevant as those changes take place. Growth needs to be continual. And the methods you use need to be continually refined over time. When you do so, you’ll find yourself presented with the results you’d always dreamed of.