In this article, we’ll provide you with eight useful, actionable tips for growing your small business
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
As Mr Eliot knows, taking the next big step can feel risky. But for any small business to grow into the next big thing, challenges will be met, and risks will have to be taken. As a matter of fact, it’s extremely difficult to grow your small business – but the rewards are more than worth it.
There are many ways to grow your small business, but we’ve collated eight of the most handy, affordable, and easy ways to reach the next level in the business world, including some top digital marketing tips. These methods cover everything from cutting costs to finding niches, and everything in between.
Before we get started on our growth expedition together, let’s take a quick look at our eight top tips for growing your small business...
How to Grow a Small Business:
In each section, we’ll dive into more detail and explain how to best put each tip into practice, with additional insights from industry experts to mix things up a bit. Keen to get started? Let’s get growing...
1. Create A Website
For your small business to grow in 2019, it needs a website. With the world becoming more digital by the day, it’s never been more important for your small business to have a presence online.
35% of small businesses feel they are too small to warrant a website – and we think that’s garbage! These days, building a website has never been easier, quicker or more affordable. Thanks to website builders, anyone can get their small business online.
We had a conversation with Charlie Worral from Imaginaire Digital on the importance of creating an online presence for growing a small business. He said:
“The trust of a company comes from friends, family, and Google. That’s just how it works today. So, becoming successful means getting online. Once people know who you are, they'll trust you and give you a call, or place an order, because they'd rather do it there and then instead of having to travel to a city center."
Think it might cost too much to build a website? Some builders, such as Wix and Weebly, let you create one for free. Wix and Weebly are two of the easiest website builders around to use, but Wix makes the whole process even easier with Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence).
Wix ADI can create professional websites in just 10 minutes
Don’t worry – Wix ADI isn’t a robot sent from the future to build your website. It’s a new feature that allows you to build a website in just a few minutes. All you have to do is answer a few questions about the type of business you own, and the website you need. Et voila! A brand new site.
2. Nail Your Customer Service
Everyone remembers their first amazing customer experience. Ok, maybe not the very first time, but people still appreciate it when companies go the extra mile. By making customers feel valued, you can add value to your business.
Don’t think customer service is important? A 2017 study found that more than half of Americans would scrap a planned purchase due to poor customer service, which is something most small businesses can’t afford to risk.
How To Improve Your Customer Service
How do you nail your customer service, then? Fortunately, it’s quite simple, and we’ve got some quick tips to help you keep your customer base happy (and ever-growing):
Be knowledgeable - customers want reliable answers, so spend some time learning the facts and figures regarding your product or service.
Get personal - talk to your customers like a human, without automated responses, to keep them engaged.
Follow up on problems - sending an email after resolving an issue lets the customer know you’re still on their side.
Be available - try extending your customer service hours, or responding to emails while you’re out of the office to let customers know you always care.
Encourage feedback - this lets you continually review and improve your customer service skills, and ultimately keep growing your business.
When it comes to building a business empire, keeping customers content is key. Whether you’re talking to business clients or shopping mall browsers, treat them well, and you’ll reap the monetary rewards.
3. Build A Sales Funnel
What’s a sales funnel? Also known as a marketing funnel, it’s a very simple marketing strategy that can be used by businesses of any size, from a tiny thrift shop to a conglomerate corporation.
The sales funnel is a multi-stage process that starts with you attracting the widest audience possible, and then funnelling them down into a smaller group who are actually keen to buy something from you. Check out the graphic below for an idea of how it works…
A sales funnel represents the customer journey. But how does it work in real life? Let’s say you own the tiny thrift shop that we mentioned above, and you’ve just created an online store. Below are some examples of how to perfect your marketing funnel at each stage.
Awareness - A visitor is most likely to land on your website from a Google search or social link, so make sure your landing page is designed beautifully – hiring a web designer makes this a lot easier.
Interest - The visitor is now browsing your vintage clothing, so it’s vital your content is helpful, professional, and not too pushy
Decision - They’re ready to make a purchase. Now is the best time to offer a deal, discount, or complementary product they can’t refuse
Action - It’s a sale! But that’s not the end – you need to make sure the customer buys again, so express some gratitude, or ask about their experience to encourage future purchases
Implementing a sales funnels is really important for growing a business. It’s a simple concept, but we understand it can be time consuming for some small businesses to plan and carry out themselves. If you’re particularly busy, we’d recommend hiring an expert to handle all the sales funnel legwork, and help turn your customer’s first purchase into their first of hundreds.
At Expert Market, we can help you find the right digital marketing experts for your small business. If that sounds useful to you, then all you have to do is fill in this quick form with your business requirements – you’ll receive tailored quotes from some of the nation’s best digital marketing agencies, and it’s free!
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4. Be Niche To Your Competitors
Growing a business is hard enough without ravenous rival companies sniffing around your customers – but that’s just the nature of business.
If you’ve found that your business has struggled to attract interest from the shared pool of potential customers, you might need to find your market niche (a specific need in the market) or establish a USP (unique selling point), if you haven’t already done so.
A market niche is a smaller, more specific section of the wider market that you’re selling to. An example would involve selling exclusively left-handed products in a school’s supply store, or cooking up purely vegan pizzas – it’s something that could help your business stand out.
As we’ve said, you may already have your niche or unique selling angle, but many small businesses don’t realise how effective they can be when looking to stand out in a busy market.
How To Research Your Competitors
Researching your competitors can help you find your niche. Not sure where to start? Not to worry – we’ve got a few simple and affordable tips to help you analyze the competition:
Rev up your search engine - Google has many useful tools, such as Trends and Alerts, which keep you up to date with the latest industry trends and competitor movements. They can also help you identify any gaps in the market.
Spy on their social - Keep tabs on your competitors’ Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages to see what they’re up to, and check review sites like Trustpilot to gauge what people like or dislike about your competition.
Query your customers - Sending follow-up emails to ask your customers how they feel about your industry can help you identify a specific market need, which is the very foundation of niche market-building.
The only way to differentiate your business from your competitors is by, well, knowing your competitors. By establishing a market niche or USP, you’re giving your small business the chance it needs to grow.
5. Go Social
You already know that almost everyone uses social media. But did you know that 54% of social browsers use social media to research products? And considering it’s free to create a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram page, going social is one of the most important steps for a small business to take in order to grow.
How Can Social Media Help Your Business?
You also already know social media helps with competitor analysis, but what are the main benefits of using social media for your small business? We’ve listed some of the other reasons below:
Gaining high value customers - Remember the sales funnel? You can now advertise your social media posts to people who are already interested in your business. They are following your account, after all!
Increase traffic - Just think – the more followers you have, the more clicks your website will get. This means more traffic, so make sure you keep tweeting, posting, and liking to increase awareness of your brand.
Build trust - People will likely check your social media before visiting your website, so make sure you appear trustworthy by responding to followers and posting reliable content.
Go crazy with content - OK, don’t go crazy. But social media gives you the freedom to create hilarious, engaging, and exciting content that people can’t help but share!
There’s more to social media marketing than just timely tweets. We spoke with Tim Hyde, an award winning marketer, who says LinkedIn is one of the most effective, yet underused social media tools for growing a small business:
“LinkedIn has unlocked some amazing opportunities, and I’ve been able to build some great relationships on the platform. Simply creating a community and consistently posting and engaging with others has generated more than 12 million views on content, which has been massively beneficial for building awareness and increasing conversions.”
Don’t have the time or energy to build a social media empire? That’s understandable. However, don’t forget you can outsource all of your Social Media tasks to a Digital Marketing Agency, who can handle all the tweets, posts, videos and campaigns for you.
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6. Streamline Your Cash Flow
Your business is starting to make money. Awesome! Now, you need to make sure your costs aren’t greater than your income. This is called managing (or ‘improving’) your cash flow, and will help your small business walk before it can run into the wider business world.
How To Improve Your Cash Flow
As always at Expert Market, we’ve got some handy tips to save you the hard work. Below are some of the best ways to improve your business cash flow:
Accept electronic payments - Using an EPOS (electronic point of sale) can help you keep track of stock, sales, and profit more easily.
Invoice factoring - You can sell your unpaid invoices to third party organisations in order to receive payments more quickly.
Cutting expenses - Be ruthless with your outgoings – are you paying for anything that isn’t absolutely necessary? Do you need such a shiny desk, or a coffee machine with that many settings?
Sell old stock - Got old stuff lying around? Sell your surplus stock for a quick cash injection.
Improving your cash flow can be quite a simple process, but it might take some time to see the positive effects. However, if you follow these tips, your cash will be flowing – and your business will be growing.
7. Design A Loyalty Program
Gaining new customers is crucial to growing your small business – that’s a fact. But many brands tend to forget that returning customers are just as important.
Appealing to your existing customers with discounts, deals, and rewards is excellent for growth, and good for your budget, too. On average, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer that it does to retain a returning one.
We spoke with Peter Gbedemah, a computer scientist and telecoms entrepreneur, about the importance of customer retention, and how best to approach it from a business perspective. He said:
“Generating long-lasting customer loyalty comes from establishing and maintaining a strong line of communication. Taking on board any feedback customers might have, and investing resources to really understand the customers’ wants and needs, will set you apart from your competitors. This not only helps to foster customer loyalty, but ultimately, it keeps you focussed on supplying products and services that the market has a genuine interest in.”
From this, you can see how important it is to talk with your customers, build relationships, and encourage return purchases. While it’s cheap to send post-purchase emails or offer discount codes, using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System can make your working life so much easier by analyzing everything you need to know about your customers – helping you build the relationships you need to grow your business and increase profits.
8. Attend Networking Events
While we’re talking about relationships, it’s time to mention the importance of business relations. Attending networking events is a great way to meet similar business owners who can help you grow your small business, without costing you too much time, effort, or money.
How do these events work? Think of them like speed dating – you’re in a room with like-minded people, and you only have a few moments to impress them. This time, though, it’s all about business.
Why should you attend? Meeting someone face-to-face is a much more effective building block than pressing ‘Connect’ on LinkedIn.
In the short time you’re talking to a potential client or investor, you need to pitch your business, explain who you are, and gain some contact information. That’s why it’s important to build the perfect elevator pitch – that is, a pitch that won’t last longer than a single elevator ride – to help spread the word about your small business without being a bore.
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There you have it: our definitive guide to growing your small business. Sure, there are many different ways to grow your business, but we’re sure you’ll find plenty of the tips in our list to be useful for your small business.
Growing a small business is hard work. And if you don’t think you’ve got the time or energy to focus purely on your company’s growth, then you can always hire an expert to handle the marketing tasks for you. Marketing is all about growth, after all.
If you don’t have the time to research, contact, or connect with digital marketing experts, we understand. That’s where Expert Market can help – we can assist you in finding the perfect digital marketing teams for your small business. All you have to do is fill in this short form with your wants and needs, and you’ll get free, tailored quotes from a range of leading digital marketing agencies.
If you are indeed going to handle the growth of your business on your own, then you’ll need to stay proactive, positive, and patient. As we’ve said, exponential growth won’t happen overnight, and it will be tough – but all your blood, sweat, and tears will be forgotten once your small business isn’t so small anymore.