Small businesses can grow in boom times as well as periods of difficulty by working smarter and taking advantage of opportunities. Put these following growth tips into practise to help grow your business.
1. Utilise Technology
Every part of your business can benefit from utilising the latest technology. Step back and look at your processes. Understand your pain points and then search out a technological solution.
2. Communicate Better
Always take a friendly but professional approach to any form of customer interaction including written invoices, quotes and emails. Create guidelines for dealing with customers in writing and over the phone. Reply to messages as soon as possible. If you take too long to return a call or email, you may lose a potential customer to a competitor. There is nothing worse than not replying to a customer or supplier. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated.
Try writing a blog or column about your chosen industry. Think about sponsoring an event or gifting your products or services to a local sports team, community group or school.
3. Become More Innovative
Even if your products and services are selling well, always look out for new ways to refine your business. Organise regular brainstorming sessions and invite staff to share their ideas on ways to improve products or services.
4. Have Strict Credit Policies
For any orders, make sure your customer completes a credit application and that they understand your terms of trade. Encourage your customers to clear payments quickly by emailing or posting invoices and giving clients a clear time frame to pay. Revisit your terms of trade and make any necessary changes if need be.
5. Improve Your Record Keeping
If you’re selling products, keep a record of every product sold and ensure you’re aware of how much stock you have. There are free or low-cost point-of-sale (POS) computer programs that can manage stock inventories and provide a record of each product sold. Create a database for future follow-ups by recording clients’ names. Don’t treat record keeping as a chore that must be done solely for compliance and regulatory reasons. Information is king. The more data you collect, the more information is available for you to grow your business.
6. Join Business Associations and Organisations
Business associations and organisations give you access to industry leaders about current innovations and developments within your chosen market for an annual membership fee. They hold regular events, seminars, short courses and networking evenings which can be incredibly valuable for meeting business owners, identifying investors, and learning more about your industry.
7. Develop a Website
If you’re a well-established business, potential customers will be searching for you on the Internet – often before they pick up the phone or walk through your door. An effective website needs to be functional, communicating what you offer and your point of difference.
8. Manage Your Time Effectively
Take note of where your time is going each day. Some tasks could be consolidated, or completed at a dedicated time each week. There are free or low-cost time management tools such as Toggl, TSheets and Google Drive that monitor your daily workload and can generate weekly reports.
9. Use Your Business Cards
Take any opportunity to hand out your business card when you meet new people – even outside of work.
10. Generate Referrals
There are many ways to create referrals and grow your business. For example, you could pay for them per lead, write a blog, attend trade shows, or simply advertise through various media.
Your small business will need to harness a variety of methods for it can grow sustainably, so take the time to plan ahead and try some new approaches.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.