Every business owner wants the secrets for a growing business. This article will lead you through the stages every business goes through.
We’ll talk about the big steps and outside factors that are critical for your success and give you some tools and strategies that will help support the goals of your growing business.
Ready to start? Let’s begin.
Growing Business 101: Structure, Manage, Succeed
1. A Growing Business is Still Personal
2. Start a Growing Business
3. Why Structure a Growing Business
4. How to Handle a Growing Business
5. Fund Your Growing Business
6. How to Grow Your Business with Marketing
A Growing Business is Still Personal
The first place you need to look when growing your business is inside yourself.
Up to this point, you could do it all on your own, and your startup business was the result of your unique individual skills and knowledge. But growing business, whether it’s to stay competitive or to build on success, requires an expanded and flexible skillset.
Your growing business will require something different at each stage of development. Your personal goals and situation will determine the direction your growing business moves in, and you must align the two to succeed.
So, grab a pen and paper, and ask yourself some questions:
- What are my personal goals in the next five years?
- What are my professional goals in the next five years?
- How will my growing business affect me? How will it affect my family?
- What are my abilities in marketing, production, invention, and distribution?
- How am I with people, management, and delegating responsibilities?
- Am I good at strategy, and big-picture thinking?
- Do I want the rewards of success or the work of a growing business, or do I want both?
- How will I balance my personal and professional goals as my business grows?
Once you have a strong handle on where you are and what you want, you’re ready to move to the next stage, determining how to grow your business.
It’s complicated and important, which can make this step both stressful and confusing. Again, it can be helpful to answer some questions for yourself like:
- What direction do I want my business to grow in?
- What are the best ways to quickly grow my business?
- How can I expand my business and still manage it?
- What systems do I have in place to support a growing business?
- What financial resources do I have to put toward my business goals?
Start a Growing Business
As you start your business you are setting the stage for future growth. The internet is full of clips about small businesses that couldn’t hack it, but it is also packed with wild success stories.
Entrepreneurs often recommend getting started with a side business while you still have a stable job, and to give yourself time to transition to a full-time focus on your growing business. Take a look here for some great side business ideas to build your foundation.
In the beginning, your focus will be on finding customers and pulling together the products you’re selling. You’ll be hoping that you can sell enough to break even and get your growing business off the ground.
The decision to expand isn’t always obvious or intentional. You may outgrow the garage you started in and need to pay rent on a bigger space. Your most enthusiastic customer may have a bigger circle of friends than you thought, and they are suddenly draining your stock and thickening your wallet.
At this stage of your growing business, you focus your energy on finding new customers, troubleshooting day-to-day, and expanding production to propel your business into the future.
Why Structure a Growing Business
As your business transitions from side hustle to working business you’ll need a structure to organize the different parts of your business that demand your attention.
When your business is just you, it’s easy to make quick and impactful decisions. In a growing business, every decision has a domino effect that can potentially affect the stability of your team and your business.
If your products are moving out the door, but it’s starting to feel too fast or chaotic, then it’s time for some structure.
At this moment of your growing business, think about the resources you have, the resources you need, and what you want for your business as it starts to grow.
Create a structure that is stable, but also flexible. Make sure you include a foundation for clear communication and outline specific standards for your business as it grows.
Start by Taking Stock of Your Existing Resources
Whether you’re a whiz with cloud computing or a recent MBA you’ll need a growth plan to make sure that your existing resources line up with your future needs. Write it all down and take stock so that you can develop as your business grows.
Choose one or two ideas to develop or research each month so that your busy day doesn’t distract from your long-term planning. It can be helpful to organize your to-dos into these four segments:
1. Human Resources
Your team is your support system and your greatest asset. If your business is you, and you alone, how are you managing it all? Does your daughter pitch in on weekends, or is an old high school friend working hours in his spare time?
Decide if you have the skills you need to keep your business growing by yourself, or if you need extra help. You may have a flair for marketing, but accounting spreadsheets make you crazy, or you love the process of developing every beloved product, but the work that goes into selling feels like too much for you.
Consider taking a class on management or reading up on delegation. Both are essential skills for a growing business. You are at an impactful moment, and it may be time to start hiring.
2. Organizational Resources
When you run a business by yourself you can rely on memory and instinct, but a growing business needs a shared vocabulary to continue to meet exacting customer expectations. Develop standards for your daily business practices, and document best practices as you go.
You’ll want to determine your budget and to think beyond the everyday activities that you’re used to. What tools do you have access to for planning? Will you and your growing business have advanced digital needs? Do you have a business plan?
Data will also be an important factor as you map the trajectory of your growing business. What data is driving your growth decisions? Tools like Google Analytics provide massive amounts of data so that you can better understand your customers. Are you using that data to the advantage of your growing business?
3. Business Resources
Examine other resources for your business.
- How much experience do you have in your industry and market?
- Have you established, or started to establish, a network and connections to stakeholders in your market?
- What kind of advertising and marketing know-how do you have?
These factors will heavily influence your ability to grow your business. Start building these resources early, and develop a sales funnel.
4. Financial Resources
Once you stop surviving and begin to thrive, you’ll need to think about where you want to direct your cash flow to have the most impact.
- How much capital do you have?
- What can you borrow?
- Who do you know that has resources to share?
- Does your budget need allocations for repairs, or do you need to dedicate more to advertising?
How to Handle a Growing Business
Once you have achieved the initial goals of your growing business you will attain a state of success that requires a decision.
Do you want to keep your business stable and profitable, or do you want to expand into new territory? You may be ready for some relaxation and, as long as you stay aware of market shifts and competition, you can stay where you are.
But, if you’re here looking for tips on how to grow your business, your plan is to keep growing. As you continue to build on the initial foundation of your growing business, you’ll want to dedicate some extra attention to three key areas.
1. Develop Your Customer Experience
The experience you give your customers will determine your ability to grow.
If you deliver a quality product with excellent service you will build a loyal following that will be your best advertising on social media, in your niche, and with your community. Make a mistake with your customers, and the world will know within hours (sometimes minutes).
There are several strategies that can build on your relationship with your customers, and to use that relationship as leverage for your growing business.
For maximum impact, we recommend that you:
- Ask happy customers if they know anyone else who might have an interest in your offerings after every sale
- Use a CRM (customer management system) like Hubspot to track fast-growing contacts, sales, and communications
- Ask your customers their opinion on products, checkout, and delivery so that you can improve and personalize your service
- Send a regular newsletter to keep in touch with returning customers and share special promotions or events in advance
- Develop or expand your customer loyalty program. Sources say it costs up to six times more to attract a new customer than to sell to a current customer. Your returning customers are the key to success in your growing business.
2. Expand Your Offer
You began your growing business with an impactful product or service. Anything that you add to your catalog should add momentum to those past successes.
Your new products should also expand on the reputation you’ve built. If most of your customers are part of a specific community or niche, look at expanding your product line in those focused areas.
For instance, are more of your online customers buying via desktop or mobile?
It is easy, over time, to become more aware of some members of your audience than others. Social listening can be a valuable tool as you do research on product development.
The most successful businesses are able to quickly adapt to market changes. The more aware you are of your customers, the easier it will be for you to continue to make your product what they need.
Think about the challenges of your customers and where you can add value, and your growing business will thrive.
3. Expand Your Location
You may be growing the family business or infusing new energy into your startup. Either way, expanding your location is a great strategy for growing business.
Most brick-and-mortar small businesses haven’t tried expanding online but should consider it.
Digital business is reaching unexpected heights.
These three articles will walk you through the fundamentals of taking your local business online:
- Get Your Business Online: How to Take Your Offline Business into Ecommerce
- 7 Steps to Building an Ecommerce Website
Fund Your Growing Business
“These strategies are great”, I can hear you saying, “But where do I get the cash for this?” How you approach your finances will need to change as your business grows. Capital is most important in the beginning.
Finances become more manageable once your business has some success, but having extra funds on hand during growth is paramount.
Growing business doesn’t have to mean growing expenses, but pushing for intense growth also means taking some risks. These three strategies are valuable as you move your growing business forward.
1. Charge What You’re Worth
Be sure that you align your pricing with the value it brings to your customers, not just the average market price. This will give you extra time and money to invest in product areas with growth potential for the future.
2. Reign in Your Costs
It will help you decide when to increase the volume of products that are selling like hotcakes or discontinue products that you’re taking a hit on. Look at your growth plan. Many strategies that seem expensive really just require time and careful planning.
3. Make Sure Everyone is Part of Your Strategy
Hire people prepared for the demands of your growing business, and people who will make financial decisions in line with your goals. Hiring an employee who is a wrong fit can have an astronomical cost. In fact, sources say that it can cost your business up to 30% of what you paid that employee for the year.
How to Grow your Business with Marketing
You already have effective marketing in place if you’ve reached your current level of success. But to continue to develop and expand your growing business, you’ll also need to grow your reach.
There are several dynamic techniques you can take advantage of to keep your sales moving up.
Invest in Your Core Customers
This tip is worth repeating. Your best strategy for growing business, and the best way to attract new customers, is to delight and reward your current customer base.
Conquer a Niche Market
The more specific your target market is, the easier it will be to capture the attention of your audience. Niche markets are smaller, but they often include influencers who can help you grow and involved communities who can’t wait to engage with your brand.
Create Engaging Content
Your customers are more than customers. They are your friends and family. They are your past and future. As you speak to your customers through content: your blog, social media, and advertising – think about what will be practical and useful to them. Take this opportunity to share knowledge and stories that will build their trust in you and your brand.
Develop Your Email Strategy
Email marketing is one of the oldest and best ways to sell. We know you’re already sending emails. Growing business with email marketing doesn’t mean sending more emails, it means developing a cohesive email marketing strategy.
This is where careful collection and analysis of your data is important. Update your CTAs, segment your audience, and use survey tools to better understand your customers.
Stretch Your Network
Go to trade shows. Invest in PPC opportunities like Google Shopping. Talk to your top customers. Give back to your community. Your business has power, and so do you. Collaboration as a strategy is one of the best, because it is mutually beneficial.
You may want to sponsor or take part in a local or online event, host a webinar, or partner with another company in your niche. Expanding online also means global reach.
Take a look at how your products and services perform in different countries as you grow and consider how you can update your message for different cultures.
As you finish this post you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the options and opportunities. Remember, this is your moment to shine.
Work on one step at a time and accept offers for learning and opportunity that cross your path along the way. And, if you’re interested in expanding into ecommerce today, try a free 14-day trial with Selz.