For most small business owners, one of the biggest goals is to see consistent growth or success. Unfortunately, you’ve probably heard statistics before about 20-50% of small businesses failing in their first year. While information like that can be disheartening, that doesn’t mean your business or your passion will become just another statistic.
Are there mistakes you should avoid? Absolutely. For starters, if you’re not marketing your business correctly, you won’t reach your target audience and experience the growth you want and deserve. If you’re not connecting with clients or customers, creating quality products or services, or preparing your business for the future, you might also stumble.
As a small business owner with a passion, you’re not alone. In fact, 55% of people say that the biggest driving force for owning a business is to be their own boss. As the boss, a lot of responsibilities fall on your shoulders, including preparing your business for growth.
By staying one step ahead of the game in technology, marketing, best business practices, and even the current economical climate, you can make sure your business continues to grow and thrive for years to come.
So, what can you do right now to prepare your business for growth in the future?
- Understand What Growth Really Means for Your Business
One of the most important things you can do to prepare your business for growth is to determine what that looks like. People measure success differently. If you’re the sole employee of your business, maybe growth means hiring another person or two to join your staff. If you’ve got a fully-functioning small business with employees and a concrete location, growth might look like doubling your sales from the previous year.
Understanding what growth means to you can also help you to identify your underlying goals for your business. It’s not just about hitting a specific set of numbers. Instead, it should be about making positive upward changes in your company that can include everything from staffing to production. When you have a clear vision of what that looks like, it will be easier to recognize when it actually happens.
- Hire Performers
As your business starts to grow, you’re going to want to hire employees that will continuously take you to the next level. Simply put, you want top performers in your corner. That doesn’t mean getting rid of your current employees. In fact, employee loyalty contributes to productivity within your business.
But, if you grow to be a $1 million dollar business, you’re going to want people on board who are familiar working in that capacity, and beyond. That’s especially true if you’re working directly with customers and need people with experience to ensure customer satisfaction. Having the right marketing and advertising people on board will also not only help to ensure continuous growth but can help you to do so in the most relevant, reliable ways.
In addition to hiring the right people for each job, it’s important to put people in the right places. It’s okay to assess your employees and promote benchmarks. That will encourage your employees to grow within their individual jobs and will help you to reduce turnover.
Finally, when it comes to employees, make sure you’re taking care of them. Satisfied employees will work harder for you, and they’re less likely to move on to other jobs. Take notice of the work your employees are doing, and respond positively. By taking care of your employees, you’re taking care of your business.
- Learn From Experts
No matter what industry your business is in, there’s always more to learn. You likely started a business because you either had a passion or skill for a very specific thing. That doesn’t make you an expert in every area of business.
So, don’t be afraid to constantly keep learning and listening from those who do have expertise in different areas.
Being a business owner is a lot about humbling yourself, not trying to assure everyone that you’re “the best”. If you don’t know a lot about marketing, learn from an expert, or hire a top team that can take you to the next level. If you don’t know a lot about tech or how to make your network connections stronger within your business, you might benefit from working with Fiber Optic Cable Contractors.
No one is perfect, and no one knows everything. Be willing and open to learning. The best leaders are always willing to continue their education in as many ways as possible. You can then take the things you learn and share that knowledge with your employees, so you can grow your business together.
- Listen to Your Customers
Your business will never grow without satisfied customers or clients. User experience is a growing term within the marketing world, but it’s something all business owners should be aware of.
Not everyone will love what you’re doing right away. Take constructive criticism with a grain of salt. You’ve heard the term “growing pains” before, right? Businesses go through the same thing. If you really want to prepare your business to grow, you have to be willing to take criticism seriously and make the necessary changes to make things better. Sometimes, that will be something as simple as replying to a customer on a review site like Yelp. Other times, you might have to talk to an employee or even let someone go over the way they handled a customer.
Listening to the people who are supporting your business will not only prepare you for the future, but it will encourage a brighter future for your bottom line.
- Communicate With Your Customers
In the U.S. alone, people are exposed to anywhere from 4,000-10,000 advertisements each day. Because of that, it’s become far too easy for most people to be able to tune out traditional advertising.
Thanks to the prevalence of social media and technology, most consumers are looking for a relationship with the businesses they trust, rather than being “talked to” or marketed to. With that in mind, showing the humanistic qualities of your business will spark word-of-mouth advertising, and help you to grow even further. Once you’ve listened to what your customers have to say, don’t be afraid to respond.
This aspect of growth can actually be a lot of fun if you’re willing to let your guard down. Try shooting “behind-the-scenes” videos at work, or let people see pictures of your staff doing their job. If someone asks a question on social media, answer it, and create posts that encourage conversation. When people feel as though there is a real person taking care of your business, they’re more likely to trust you, support you, and recommend you to friends and family.
- Don’t Get Distracted
It might seem contradictory to want to prepare your business for growth while only focusing on one thing, but that kind of locked-in focus is imperative.
Far too often, as businesses start to get bigger, they will think about different ways they can expand. Expanding your location, your presence, your marketing, and your staff isn’t a bad thing.
But, expanding what your business does isn’t always the best growth solution. For example, if you run a t-shirt -printing company and you’re seeing more success, it wouldn’t make much sense for you to start adding potted plants into your product line. That doesn’t mean you can’t add other things, like hats, sweatshirts, etc. If you’re going to expand, it needs to make sense and be in line with what your business is already doing.
Additionally, dividing your efforts into many different things will undoubtedly affect either the quality of your product or service. Chances are, it will confuse your employees, too, and they won’t be able to serve customers or clients with the quality that is deserved or expected. Some of the top businesses in the world are widely-known for one or two things. When you think about McDonald’s, for example, the first thing to pop into your head is probably a hamburger. If McDonald’s started selling fried chicken and mashed potatoes, it wouldn’t make sense for their brand.
While you don’t need to become stagnant by only doing or offering one thing, make sure your ideas for growth line up with what your business actually represents.
Again, every small business wants to grow and to reach new levels of success, and there are ways you can prepare yourself and your business to get there. Keep these tips in mind as you step toward the next level in your business, and you’ll be better prepared to take on the challenges that always come with growth.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process. It’s tempting to constantly put your business first, but if you aren’t paying attention to your emotional and physical health, you won’t be able to give your business the attention or time it deserves. Prepare yourself for growth from the inside out, so you can feel confident as your business reaches new heights.