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No matter how large your business grows, whether you have offices from coast to coast or in the same city, it will always be your baby. Like any parent, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is finding the right balance between encouraging growth without overdoing it. Every business will experience growing pains, but making moves early on to put yourself in a position for success is a huge part of building a stable business that can excel as it matures. While this process is easier said than done, it is possible with the right plan in place.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the important factors that go into growing your business, how you can maximize your growth, and how strategic partnerships can help you every step of the way.
1. Know Your Market
Your first step toward sustainable growth is to do your research. Effective market research will help you understand your new and existing customers as well as your competition. Market research allows you to better understand your potential customers’ pain points. Without doing the research, it will be impossible to grow your business to meet their needs because you won’t know what they are.
It’s also important to understand exactly who your competitors are. Take careful note of your most successful rivals, what they’re doing that works, and what they’re doing that isn’t working. Use this knowledge to inform your business strategy; try to find ways to differentiate your brand and put it in a positive light. Knowing your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is one of the key factors that should guide how you choose to scale your business.
2. Build A Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is basically a roadmap of the steps a prospective customer will take, from their first interaction with your brand all the way to when they make a purchase. From your physical store to your website, to the emails you send, every channel you use to communicate with potential or existing customers will be a part of this funnel. An optimized sales funnel will gently nudge customers down the funnel step by step, first making them aware of your business, then demonstrating its value, before finally convincing them to make a purchase.
At the top of the funnel, how will they first hear about your business? Once they’ve heard of you, what will grab their attention enough to get them to research further? Which of your products or services will they purchase? At the bottom of the funnel, where is the point of sale? After the sale, what channels do you have in place to get them to re-enter the funnel and become a repeat customer?
When they make a Google search for the product or service you provide, try to ensure you’re one of the first names that ranks at the top of the search results page. When they fill out a form on your website, get their contact information so that you can follow up with an email. When they finally make a purchase, offer some sort of discount or incentive to encourage their repeat business.
Of course, the wider you can make the top opening of your funnel, the more customers are likely to “fall in.”
3. Invest In Yourself
Big businesses like Microsoft, General Motors (GM), and even the United Parcel Service (UPS) are no strangers to investing profits back into the companies, and so should you. No matter what stage your business is at, reinvesting is crucial to your company’s continued growth and success.
Take a look at your excess funds and see where they can be allocated. Maybe it’s time to try to invest in marketing to build your customer base, maybe it’s hiring more workers, or maybe it’s using that funding to introduce additional services. The answer won’t be the same for everyone, but the premise of re-investing in yourself is important to expand your company and increase profits.
4. Hire Great Employees And Train Them Extensively
The best business is nothing without great people to make it run smoothly. A great team can make or break your business in a variety of ways. You want great people that not only know your market and how to deliver an excellent final product but that are also personable and friendly enough to leave a lasting positive impression on the customers that interact with your brand.
With a team of knowledgeable and dedicated employees fostered by a collaborative work culture, there is nothing you can’t accomplish. Unfortunately, creating a great team is not an easy process. In fact, it may be the most difficult task you undertake as a business owner.
Luckily, there are some great tips you can use to hire and retain the best talent. Here are some good tips to get you started:
Create a great first impression.
When interviewing potential new hires, be respectful of their time. Show up on time and look presentable, be hospitable, and be as forward as possible when answering their questions. Generally, you want to treat candidates like you would customers. Remember that when it comes to getting the best people, your ability to impress them is just as important as their ability to impress you. Fail to make a good first impression, and they’ll simply take their expertise elsewhere.
Create specific, compelling, and accurate job descriptions.
You’re looking for that specific person to fill a particular role in your company, so don’t leave the job description up for interpretation. Use specific titles with a succinct overview of exactly what the job entails while highlighting aspects of your culture that make your business such a great company to work for. Remember that you’re trying to attract the best: a more vague description might attract more applicants, but a highly specific job description will attract the right applicants.
Boost the visibility of your job postings.
Even if your perfect candidates are out there, it means little if they don’t know you’re looking for them. Use social media to promote openings wherever possible, with the understanding that they’ll be shared in professional circles among your best potential candidates. You might also implement an employee referral program so that your current employees will be encouraged to refer the best, most talented people they know. Consider creating sponsored job postings on job posting sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, etc.
Include your existing employees in the interview process.
Don’t fall for the trap of strictly using your own judgment when you consider new hires. No one knows the ins and outs of your business better than your existing employees, so take their consideration into account when deciding who will be the best fit for your business moving forward. You may know all the big picture aspects of your business, but your employees will have valuable insight into what a typical day-to-day will look like for your new hires.
5. Create A Positive Customer Experience
Regardless of your industry, creating a positive overall buying experience is crucial. Customer perception has always been something that can make or break a business, but this has never been more true than in the modern digital era. With practically everyone now having access to a full history of your business with a click of a button, it’s crucial to make sure you cultivate positive reviews by offering the best-finished product possible.
In relation to the other areas we’ve covered, creating a positive customer experience will also bleed into and improve other areas of your business. It’s easy to sell a great product or service and even easier to turn those initial sales into repeat purchases. Likewise, it’s much easier to keep employee morale high when they only interact with satisfied customers.
Perhaps more important than the benefits of selling a great service are the downfalls of creating something sub-par. It only takes one negative review to start costing you potential customers, so you have to be on your toes at all times to ensure every customer you interact with leaves with a positive experience. People are much more likely to leave a negative review after [what they consider] terrible service than they are to leave a glowing review after a great experience, so you have to not only find ways to make their experience better but also encourage satisfied customers to tell the world about why you rock.
Go the extra mile wherever possible to cultivate great experiences. Use follow-up emails and questionnaires to find out exactly what they loved about your product or service, or offer discounts to dissatisfied customers to show them that their input is still valuable to you. Either way, you should be responsive to your customers so they feel a personal connection with you and don’t feel like their relationship with you is over immediately after the point of purchase.
It’s no easy task to keep everyone happy, but listening to what your customers want and delivering it to them in a medium they’re comfortable with is an excellent way to build trust in your brand. Luckily, as a growing business, you are often in a much better position to be nimble and adjustable to customers’ changing needs, so now is the time to start trying to analyze and anticipate your customer base so that you can respond effectively with a new service or innovation that’s as personalized as possible to them. This is one area where investing in customer relationship management software can pay big dividends.
6. Retain Your Existing Customers
Every business relies on repeat customers, with extremely few exceptions. It’s essential to maintain ongoing revenue sources by directing most of your attention to your established customer base. After all, it’s always cheaper to retain an existing customer than to try to attract new ones. In fact, it typically costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep a current one coming back.
Emphasizing customer retention is also a huge factor if you’re trying to secure funding from outside sources. Focusing on customer retention is an excellent way to show banks that there is an existing market for the services you’re selling, making them much more confident that they can get a return on their investment in you.
It may sound counterintuitive; after all, you can’t grow without new customers, right? While this is true, it’s also important to realize that maintaining an existing customer base that raves about your business is the best way to get more people on board. Increasing customer retention builds brand loyalty, naturally leading to increased sales over time. From a cost standpoint, it also means that you’ll be allocating more of your resources toward a guaranteed investment rather than an uncertain new prospect.
Some good ways to retain existing customers include implementing a customer loyalty program or other types of strategies specifically geared toward taking already satisfied customers and simply getting their foot back in the door.
With your business model in place and your loyal customer base continuing to grow, it’s now time to network with others in your industry. Networking with your peers will increase your brand visibility while also helping you catch the attention of new customers.
Networking can (and should) take many forms. No matter where you’re located, there will almost certainly be professional organizations in the area that host local events specifically catered to help businesses connect with members of the community. Whether you’re a featured speaker, hosting a booth, or simply attending as a guest, you’ll get a chance to build personal connections with people in adjacent industries while simultaneously showing your expertise.
Networking events allow you to connect with like-minded individuals whose valuable insights can help direct your future efforts. Whether it be finding out what a competitor is doing that works or getting direct feedback from your ideal customer base, professional networking can be a huge and lasting benefit to your business.
In addition to attending events, you should also consider hosting events of your own. Hosting local events for your community does more than simply raise awareness about your business and conferring your interest in reaching out to your community; more importantly, it puts you front and center, raising your brand awareness and giving you the potential to create a truly unique experience for your audience. There are limitless possibilities for the types of functions you can host, but some of the most effective include fundraisers, holiday events, and local sports sponsorships. After all, what better way to show that you’re invested in the community than by literally investing in it?
8. Social Network
In addition to in-person networking, you’ll also need to build an online presence. People are more online than ever before, so neglecting your online presence can cause you to miss out on huge opportunities that your competition will capitalize on. Not only will an active social media presence allow you to reach more people than before, but it also creates opportunities to create deeper, more meaningful connections than could ever be achieved using traditional marketing methods.
Social networking platforms allow you to personally connect with customers in a way never before possible, creating limitless opportunities to reach your target audience. For customers that have had a positive review, it gives you an opportunity to share their experience with the rest of your followers. On the other hand, social media also allows you to reconcile someone’s bad experience by creating a direct channel you can communicate with them to resolve whatever issue they’re having.
In addition to giving your brand a personal touch, cultivating an active social media presence will bolster all of your other online activities. Not only will it make it easier for your customers to find you when they search for you, but it also provides opportunities to maximize the impact of all your other marketing efforts. Having your posts or events shared by your customers not only puts your name in front of all their followers but also acts as a seal of approval. Maintaining a great social media presence not only gets you more visibility but will also boost your credibility with all of those new potential customers. In the same vein, it’s also a powerful tool to attract great new hires; after all, people want to work at companies that everyone already loves.
Finally, social media gives business owners a never-before-possible opportunity to establish themselves as industry experts. By regularly posting and sharing insightful and valuable content to your followers, you’ll build your authority as your name becomes synonymous with the quality and respect you want your audience to associate with your brand.
9. Be Adaptable
No matter the size of your business, being adaptable for when life throws you lemons (or a pandemic) is the key to any successful strategy. When you’re able to pivot, it keeps you competitive, and you’re more likely to survive in the long run when things don’t go as expected.
Now might be a good time to consider how to expand or diversify your offerings. Never stop trying to identify opportunities for new products or services you can offer or new ways you can market your existing products.
Some good examples of how you can grow and expand include:
- Making more of your offerings available online
- Opening new locations
- Finding a way to reach new areas of your target market
In many ways, we live in tumultuous times. However, for the savvy business owner, every potential crisis also presents an opportunity. A successful business owner is one who is equipped to switch directions quickly in response to changing market conditions. Don’t be afraid to correct your course as you go.
10. Partner For Success
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Entering into a strategic partnership can help you reach more customers, align your growth to fit your parameters, and give a boost to all your existing efforts in a myriad of ways.
A great strategic partnership can give you the chance to reach a broader network of customers or align growth with key goals in your business plan. Just make sure to find a partner that truly understands your business, your industry, and the unique pain points you face.
Your Partner In Growth
FieldRoutes employs an expert team of web developers, content creators, and marketing professionals with one job and one job only: create a framework that helps our clients succeed in an increasingly digital world. We can help you not only get in front of your perfect potential customer but also reel them into your sales funnel and give them everything they need to make a purchase.
Whether you’re looking to create a business you can sell or are in it for the long haul, we have the specialized websites and marketing tools you need to keep growing. Contact us today for all the details.
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The Daily Egg. (2021 September 15). “What is a Sales Funnel, Examples and How to Create One.” The Daily Egg Analytics. Retrieved from https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/sales-funnel/
Indeed. (2020 August 07). “10 Recruiting Strategies for Hiring Great Employees.” Indeed for Employers. Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/10-recruiting-strategies-for-hiringgreat-employees
Entrepreneur. (2013 June 28). “5 Tips for Getting Acquired.” Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229027