Date published 23/11/2017
7 steps to growing your small business
1. Define your values
Knowing your company goals and strengths are key elements of putting together a growth strategy. Before you try to expand, think about what makes your company unique and what the business values are. Establish the core values, whether it’s honesty, innovation, excellent service or transparency.
When you know the strengths and skills that your business brings, then you will be in a stronger position to expand.
Top tip: Ask your existing clients what they think your company’s values are, and see if they match your own.
2. Research available funding
You may be entitled to Government funding, which could be a valuable stepping stone to developing your small business. Business grants are available at a local and national level and can be sector specific too. Funding could be used for anything from training, innovation and tax relief to mentoring programmes.
There’s also a new Development Bank for businesses based in Wales which offers flexible finance options.
Usually, there are two steps to the process of applying for a grant:
- Submitting an Expression of Interest to ensure your application meets the scope of the grant call.
- A full application process, where you need to supply market research, a business plan, and at least 1-3 years’ financial forecasts. Be prepared to put in the time to apply for funding - the potential rewards are worth it!
Top tip: Start applying early. You’ve got a better chance of receiving a grant if you apply when a scheme first launches.
3. Look after your people
Good people lie at the heart of every successful business. When hiring new employees, you need to make sure that they understand and believe in your values. A business will struggle to grow if employees don’t share your vision. Ensuring your staff are happy and engaged will result in lower employee turnover, better morale and motivation.
Be one step ahead in thinking what your skill gaps might be and, if you have the funds, recruit staff who could bring in new innovative ideas.
Top tip: Use behaviour based interview questions, rather than asking applicants about their values, as this will provide a more accurate representation of their skills.
4. Grow existing clients
Don’t become so fixated on winning new business that you forget to look after existing clients. Identify key accounts and show them that you value their loyalty. Going above and beyond to demonstrate excellent customer service can generate recurring income which can be more cost-effective than developing new business. Remember the power of word of mouth - happy customers will talk to other potential clients.
Think about how you can make people come back for more – for example, a reward system in place or introductory rates for new products of services.
Top tip: Personalise every interaction with customers, from face-to-face meetings to digital marketing strategies.
5. Remember the value of strength in numbers
When it comes to business, don’t forget that two brains can be better than one. Many entrepreneurs who start their businesses alone forget the value of enlisting the support of others when needed. According to research, having two founders rather than one can significantly increase your odds of success, as you’ll raise 30% more money and have almost three times the client growth. So, if you haven’t considered getting somebody else involved, what’s stopping you? Leveraging others’ strengths can accelerate growth.
Here are some tips for finding a partner:
- Decide on the type of expertise you want: sales, service exchange, co-branding or true partnership.
- Clarify your objectives to ensure they are shared by both parties.
- If you don’t want an official arrangement, consider outsourcing innovative talent on a freelance basis to help on a project basis.
Top tip: Trust your instinct when you meet potential partners; find someone you can rely on:
6. Invest in a marketing strategy
Don’t consider marketing as simply ‘nice-to-have’. Once you’ve defined your target audience, you can extend your reach through targeted, clever marketing and communications.
A few ideas you could implement into your marketing strategy:
- Data informed decision-making: Use data tools and pre-existing insights to understand who your audience is and how you can best reach them. As a starting point, utilise free analytics tools such as those offered through Facebook, Twitter or your website to gather specific data to promote your business to the right people.
- Video content: Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users. The popularity of video means you should consider including more engaging visuals in your marketing campaigns. It doesn’t have to be shot professionally, either. A huge amount of the high-quality content you see online is shot using an iPhone.
- Expert content: Your business shouldn’t just have a blog for the sake of it. Spend time producing engaging content that adds value to your audience. Good content can be repurposed across channels (including email and search) to drive organic growth.
Top tip: Don’t think you need to be a jack of all trades; use the help of external experts if you need it!
7. Upgrade your communications
Whether that’s new computer equipment or a new CRM system – more and more companies recognise the importance of investing in new technologies.
Nowadays, choosing a feature-rich telephone system isn’t difficult. For example, a cloud-based phone system could provide you with the flexibility to develop and grow your business. Plus, many include enterprise-level features, helping you compete with the larger establishments.
Top tip: Double check that the system you choose includes all the features that your business is going to need.
Building the foundations for a successful company doesn’t need to be complicated. Implement these tips in to your growth plan, and take your small business to the next level.
To find out how we could help your small establishment grow with faster broadband, better phone systems or efficient mobile contracts contact Datakom today.