We can all agree that starting and running a business takes a lot of work. However, growing your business is a different matter altogether. Growth presents a variety of benefits, the foremost of which is the ability to sustain the business in the long run.
The increased profitability doesn’t hurt, either. This is why growth should always be one of the goals when starting a business. But, you might find yourself asking, how do you do that? Thankfully, this article will discuss the eight proven ways to grow your business.
1. Perform in-depth market research
As Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.” The best way to start growing your business is to know what you’re up against. Market research includes studying demands for products and services, assessing your competitors, and evaluating industry trends.
These pieces of data will help you develop a solid business plan and help you scale up. Focus groups are an excellent way to gather information about your customers, and having those market studies transcribed into digital format can immensely help with analyzing and interpreting your gathered data.
2. Get to know your target customers
Businesses live and die by their customers, so it makes perfect sense to know them well. You need to identify in which demographic your products and services are most likely to do well and study purchase patterns, customer behavior, product usage, interactions, preferences, and levels of engagement. Also using a contract management software can increase your engagement rate.
Armed with your gathered information, you can make better, more informed decisions about developing existing products, creating new ones, and increasing your market presence.
With enough information, a little bit of foresight, and some luck, you can even anticipate what your customers need before they do. It also helps to divide your customers into groups with similar spending patterns, preferences, and behavior so you can easily perform the next step.
3. Enhance your customer experience
Did you know that customers are 8% more likely to talk about their negative experiences with businesses compared to positive ones? What’s more, 54% of customers who talked about negative interactions did so with more than five people, compared to the measly 34% that talked about their positive experiences. Now that’s an uphill battle if I’ve ever seen one.
Customer transactions should not be one-and-done deals. Once a customer purchases your product or service, it is in your best interest to keep them happy. And it’s not just because of the prospect of future sales or because you don’t want them to badmouth your business online. Instead, you need to focus on them because they are your business’s lifeblood, and you should treat them as such.
To be fair, profits and positive reviews are important and play a pivotal role in growing your business. But they shouldn’t be your primary concern regarding customer service. With that being said, here are some ways to improve your customer’s experience.
What do your customers think about you and your business? Do they have complaints or suggestions? Giving customers the ability to leave their feedback is an excellent way to gather data. It also helps with figuring out what you’re doing right and identifying your areas for improvement.
Offer multi-channel support
There are literally dozens of ways a business can open communication channels with customers in the digital age. Phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, Tweets (or Xs), WhatApps messages, and many other free messaging channels are available. Use them, and give your customers options on how they want to reach you. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.
Set clear service standards
Many businesses fail to provide this crucial aspect despite its simplicity, and it never ends well. Customers should know what they’re getting and how they’re getting it when they purchase your product or service. This includes but is not limited to opening and service hours, delivery times, inclusions with purchases, extent of support, and response times. This gives your customers a set of expectations you can reliably meet every time. Now, once you have them set, you can then—
Exceed their expectations
Remember, meeting customer expectations is the bare minimum. It’s enough to keep them around until a better business with more favorable prices or services comes along. You need to go above and beyond their expectations if you want them to stay for the long run. I’ve heard one story where a customer of an SEO firm was hospitalized for a month. The firm decided to take care of the customer’s websites and correspondences for the duration — which is a lot of responsibility — at no extra cost. The firm may have incurred additional expenses during that time, but that cost is negligible when a loyal customer stays for life.
4. Hire the best people
Finding and keeping the right people with the right skill set is a key factor for the success of any business.
Bringing in people with different expertise and opinions can nurture creativity and innovation within your organization, leading to process enhancements, new offerings, and other benefits. But looking for the best-fitting people for your business is no walk in the park. And recruitment is a two-way street: jobseekers are also looking for companies that fit their preferences.
Now, if you are looking for a job in IT or engineering, you can consider our job search service. Get the chance to work with industry leaders nationwide — while safe in the knowledge that your job search is completely confidential.
With that said, consider these effective methods of attracting and hiring the best candidates for your business.
Define your business’s work culture
Do you want your business to be like a family? Or are you more inclined to foster friendly competition among your employees? Defining the work culture you want to build is the first step in finding the right people for the job.
Look for people that will fit in your preferred culture
Once you have your work culture in mind, it’s time to find the people that will fit in. You can use face-to-face interviews, personality tests, performance tests, and background checks to identify the most favorable candidates. Another thing: experience is an important part of a candidate’s resume. However, it shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all of your hiring process. You can onboard fresh college graduates with offers to pay their student loans — so long as you see potential in them.
Develop clear-cut roles and responsibilities
Breaking down and assigning tasks and responsibilities is one of the best ways to ensure efficiency in the workplace. This can also help with performance evaluations and employee accountability. Don’t make the mistake of onboarding people with the expectation that they will do anything and everything you ask, no matter the scale of your business.
- Network, network, network
An extensive network of business contacts is an extremely valuable asset for the growth of your business. Contacts can help you find new hires, get you in touch with other vendors and suppliers, give you access to their own networks and knowledge, and they can also potentially become your customers. Don’t limit your contacts to those within your industry; remember, you’re trying to grow your business, so networking with other players can prove beneficial in the future. Now, let’s talk about how you can improve your business network.
Join organizations, events, and seminars
Joining events and organizations is a great way to connect with business professionals and other experts in your industry. Government agencies usually have similar programs, so don’t forget to check them out. Also, don’t underestimate the value of social media when it comes to networking. They’re not just good for launching products or announcing your book if ever you decide to write one about your business story. You can find a lot of groups and communities on social media platforms like LinkedIn or even Facebook.
Talk to people outside of work
This may not be as effective as joining seminars, but you’d be surprised how much you can benefit from a simple conversation. Talk to people in restaurants, supermarkets, cinemas — anyplace where it’s natural to hold conversations. And when I say talk to people, I mean talk to them. Don’t come in with a business card and a sales pitch straightaway. Don’t be pushy. Engage them in polite conversation and ask for contact details only when appropriate. It’s funny how many business owners can say they got some of their biggest customers from talking to the guy next in line at the counter.
6. Develop new products and services
The concept of business is inherently circular: you put up capital, use it to make products and earn money, and then use that new money as additional capital to keep the cycle going. You can use any extra money to scale up the production of your old offerings or open new stores in another area. But why not tap into new markets and customers by creating new product and service lines? Product diversification is a great way to expand your business. It helps with staying ahead of your competitors, creating new sources of revenue, and enhancing your brand image. Leverage your team’s creativity by developing newer versions of your products or new offerings in a completely different industry. Invest in new technologies to create better products, improve and streamline processes, and more.
7. Be adaptable
Let me tell you a story.
There was a time when Nokia was the undisputed leader of cellphone products. Everyone, everywhere, was talking about how they’d like to get the latest 6620 back in 2002, while most of the people walked around with nigh-indestructible 3310s.
In 2007, their products accounted for 51% of the global market (note that Samsung and Apple, today’s undisputed industry giants, have a combined market share of about 55 – 58%.)
It really seemed like Nokia could do no wrong.
But the development of smartphones signaled an industry-wide upheaval, and Nokia refused to let go of the old ways. The company focused on hardware instead of software. Their marketing strategy floundered. They got into smartphones too late in the game.
Competitors ate away at their once-impressive market shares to the point that they no longer have a notable foothold in the industry today. To put it shortly, the company didn’t adapt to change.
There’s no such thing as a stagnant market. Trends change all the time. Customer preferences are fickle things. Any business with aspirations for growth must stay on top of any and all changes in their industry to avoid getting left behind.