Are you focused on business growth in 2017? Whether you want to double your customer base or open new stores nationally, business owners should always be focused on growing and developing. If you want to make 2017 your best year yet, here’s some expert tips for business growth for the year ahead.
If you are starting out as an SME?
Small and medium sized businesses are faced with a broad range of challenges as they expand. Many start-ups and SMEs fail to reach their potential because they either aren’t prepared for growth or don’t have the capital needed for essential business growth. Business leaders need a growth strategy in place from the start to ensure nothing can unexpectedly hold them back.
If you run an SME then take note of these five ways you can head in the right direction – upwards.
Strong business plan
Hopefully you didn’t launch a business without a clear and concise business plan – or you probably won’t get very far. The fact is that almost all business need a capital injection to grow at all, which means you’ll have to pitch your business plan to investors. To secure the funds you’ll need a strong business plan which demonstrates how much money you’ll need and how the investment will affect the business. Access to finance is difficult for small businesses, but alternative options such as peer to peer lending can be promising.
Focus on sales
The quickest way to grow a business is to bring in more sales. More sales means more revenue to play with. Place an emphasis on customer service and explore low cost marketing techniques which could influence sales. If you go the extra mile for each client, they will become a return customer and tell their family and friends about your company – word of mouth positive marketing is free!
Just because you started the business doesn’t mean you should continue to do all of the work single-handed. The biggest mistake most business owners make is trying to juggle too many jobs and then not doing any of them well. If you plan on expanding, you’ll need a core team to help run the business and the sooner you find these suitable employees, the better. Establish a core team who can help you grow the business and preferably have valuable experience to bring to the company.
In order to grow, you need to spend a substantial amount of time on tasks which promote business growth. If you feel like there’s never enough time in the day, and the majority of your time is taken up by activities which aren’t driving business growth, then it’s time to start outsourcing. It’s a cost effective way of managing the business without having the expense of hiring in-house staff. From accounting and IT to HR and marketing, you need to free up your time to spend it wisely.
As a business owner you have to strive for improvement every single day. Take a step back from business operations regularly to see what you could be doing better. Improvements alone can lead to business growth, but remember that if demand increases in line with the company expansion, then your service will also have to develop.
What do to as an established business?
- Find a new market
In this ever changing world we live in, you can’t simply rely on the one market or one customer persona to buy your products. As new technology and markets emerge, unfortunately others die as a consequence. Always take the time to do research in your sector to find out what products or services could be on the horizon. Will they put your business at risk? Or can you fight the competition? One way to secure the company is to find a way to appeal to more people. Can you develop a new product to widen your remit? Change your marketing tack to appeal to different types of audiences?
- Customer feedback
Your customers can tell you where you can add value to your business, for virtually no cost to you. It’s relatively easy to set up a customer questionnaire, and the data you receive can be vital for driving growth. Customers can help you discover what is and isn’t working, so you can see the areas which need improvement. You could also ask them what else would they like you to offer, to make their lives easier – this feeds into the first tip, so you can open up to a new market.
- Employee retention
It’s very difficult to grow as a company without the people who make it work. Business growth almost always requires extra staff, and it’s hard to expand a team when an employee leaves to work elsewhere. If you don’t focus on an employee retention strategy, for every person you hire another could resign. Listen to HR or hire an expert if you don’t have your own department.
- Don’t fall short
Growth and expansion within a company often requires capital. Make sure you don’t find yourself half way through an exciting expansion project with no money to finish it. At some point, businesses need finance – even successful businesses with money rolling in. To keep up with demand, you need to invest in your business and sometimes you’ll need help. Look at our short term alternative finance options.
- Marketing and advertising
If your business is growing, then so too should your marketing strategy. Medium sized enterprises have medium sized budgets, and large companies have large budgets for advertising. For example, take this year’s Christmas advert wars between the big retailers, such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. You need to keep up with those you’re competing with. Evaluate your current digital strategy too, including SEO, social media and content marketing, or you’ll soon be forgotten on the internet.