How To Grow Your Business
So you’ve started a business. It seems to be going well. You have a handful of customers who are giving you glowing references and your gross sales are on the rise. But you don’t have a business plan or you’re low on funds, so you’re not sure what to do next in order to take your business to the next level.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over my years of trial and error in building businesses:
1) Prepare Your Business For Growth
It’s no good setting out to grow your business if your business systems are not expandable. Imagine what would happen if your sales reached target tomorrow. What would happen? Where are the weaknesses? Some things that you may want to consider:
- Do you have a filing system in place? If you do everything digitally, do you have a data backup system in place?
- Do you have all of your sales tools in order? Do you have a website where people can go for more information? Does the website save you time by informing potential customers of your services and helping you sell your goods or services? Or does it confuse people and drive them away?
- Do you have a bookkeeper, or a system for doing your own books that is not excessively time consuming? Are your invoicing systems, expense tracking systems, tax IDs, and licenses in order?
NOTE: I recommend FreshBooks as a time-saving tool for bookkeeping if you prefer to do your own books. It can generate reports on where you’re spending your money and how much time different projects are taking.
- Do you have enough money to order the supplies that you may need? If not, what is the biggest order you can take right now? Can you put aside some funds for the next couple of months in order to build a pool of funds to draw from?
2) Set Goals
You can’t map out how to get from here to there without knowing where there is. Be as specific as possible about where and how you want your business to grow and give yourself a realistic timeline for getting there. Things to make note of:
- Where will you be working from (home office, rented office, another city)?
- How many employees will you have (and what will they be doing?)?
- What will your work day look like?
- What will your monthly sales be?
- Who is your best customer?
3) Define Your Demographic
It is important to get specific about who your ideal customer is. This doesn’t mean you can’t sell to anyone else; the benefit is that it keeps you focussed, reduces stress, and helps you keep a consistent brand image. So how specific should you get? Here are some guidelines to consider:
- Is your ideal customer male or female?
- How old is she? Pick a specific number or a from 3-5 years.
- What does she do for work? List up to 5 specific jobs or pick a specific industry.
- What does she do for fun? List up to 5 hobbies.
- What types of media does she consume? List specific websites, magazines, and TV channels that she likely accesses.
- List additional personality traits and preferences, such as:
- Outgoing or introverted?
- Tidy or messy?
- Modern or vintage?
- Artistic or analytical?
4) Map It Out
The road will be different for every business. There are simply too many variables for any single article to tell you exactly how to map out your growth, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- What is your marketing budget? Select a number based on your existing pool of funds and/or a percentage of upcoming sales.
- Knowing what you now know about your target demographic, where would advertising or cross-promotions efforts be most effective?
- Put together a marketing plan that includes your budget and a schedule of advertising efforts. Do your research by finding out the costs of running certain ads and what level of visibility those ads achieve.
- What type of graphic design, photography, and copy would be most appealing to your demographic?
5) Build Out Your Team
If everything goes as planned, you’re probably going to need a team. Your team and your target demographic will have a lot in common, so networking within those circles is a good idea. Make a list of team members you might need, then make a point to try and meet (and maintain a relationship with) talented people with these qualifications. Before hiring anyone, especially in marketing, ensure his/her style is one that will appeal to your target demographic. For example, you wouldn’t want to hire a really artsy graphic designer if your target demographic is very analytical. Give your team adequate information about your goals and your demographic before assigning any tasks to them.
Once you’ve taken the five steps above, you should be prepared to start following your map. Take it one step at a time and try not to become overwhelmed. If you’re ever in need of professional help or advice, there are many individuals and organizations whose job is to help people in your position. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for a free consultation.
Beacon Collective specializes in getting businesses to their Point B. Please let us know if we can be of service.
Do you have a tip that you’ve learned over the years? Add it below in our comments section to share your expertise with the world.