It’s no secret that today small businesses make up a good portion of the U.S. economy – the backbone from which innovation and progress thrives. Many small companies stay in business for years and some even blossom into larger businesses. But while some small businesses proposer, others fail and that is why it is prudent to look at your options for growth to keep your business dynamic and successful for years to come.
While owning a small business is very satisfying– expanding and growing your business can be very daunting at first. But growth and even expansion are necessary in many cases when it comes to growing a customer base.
Here are ten ways to consider when thinking about growing your business:
- Update Your Website to 2.0 Technology: Many small businesses build a website and just leave it alone — with very little information or updating. But there are two important considerations: 1) Google has updated their algorithms so the websites with the most content and quality SEO often first in searches. 2) Today, people are yearning for more from websites and they want to interact with the company. The good news is that there are ways to make your site dynamic and elicit customer input. Not only can you offer some e-commerce solutions (which will expand your customer base outside your local area) but you can build in areas for customer reviews and comments (that you should respond to if possible).
- Update Your Marketing Plan: The best way to get new customers and clients is to continuously update your marketing plan and investigate ways to target new markets. A marketing plan can be your map for the year and remind you of what you need to do to ensure customers are plentiful. So do a plan: whether it is through social media, making sure your business is advertising and being promoted via PR in the right outlets, or even sending out mass emails to your customers (e.g.: to let them know about new products, sales, etc.) – having a good marketing plan is a good first step. If you are considering online advertising, you should be alert to click fraud which can easily erase your online marketing budget. Companies like ClickConfirmation offers paid search traffic compliance solutions.
- Have a Social Media Plan: Inside your marketing plan, you should also have an active social media plan. Make sure you have at least a business Facebook or Twitter site where you can promote your business and your customers can write in comments so you can respond. Also you can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media platform’s business services to target your customer base with new offerings, special promotions and contests and more. Make sure if you do use social media – you update your pages or tweets at least once a week.
- Expand your locations: Depending on the type of business you have (especially if it is brick and mortar and not online), The Small Business Administration (SBA) advises to look for other locations to increase your business presence. This allows you to expand your customer base in new markets. There are a number of alternative business loans that can help accelerate your company’s growth.
- Diversify: Diversifying your business into complimentary areas is a strategic method to attract new customers as well as create more loyalty from current clients. For instance, if you design websites for a living, expand your web design services so your can company also offer SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). You could also offer public relations and blog writing services for the website – which creates an even more full service business.
- Become the Expert: “Being the ‘expert’ in your field goes a long way in building confidence for your products and services, everyone wants to work with or buy from someone who is an expert in their chosen field,” explains Anthony Allen Anderson – VP of Sales and Marketing at GSI Exchange. How do you do this? Find the forums, fairs, trade shows, and more in your area of expertise and make sure to be present and even offer to be a speaker or participant in the event. If you see an article on a blog or in a newspaper, comment on it and offer advice. You might even consider writing articles in trade or business publications that related to your industry – in other words – get your name out there within your customer circles and become the expert. If you don’t, someone else will!
- Merging or purchasing another business: One way to position your company for success is to look at similar businesses that compliment your company and form a partnership — either formal (through a merger or acquisition) or informal.
- Expand Internationally: This might appear to be a little disconcerting, but international expansion these days is not as hard as it seems thanks to the nature of social media and the Internet for research and communication purposes. You can locate foreign distributors by searching whether your city or state has a foreign company with a U.S. presence.
- Franchise – There are several ways to franchise. You can open a franchise of an already known popular service (food, clothing, and other services) or you can franchise out your own brand. The SBA says, “Franchising your business will allow for growth without requiring you to manage the new location.”
- Work with the Government: Did you know that government agencies need help and contractors as well as private clients? You can actually work with your local SBA to find out what opportunities are available and how your business might help.