If you’ve started a business, we’re guessing you’re focused on finding ways to grow it. After all, the success of your business depends on your ability to increase your customer base and generate more profits.
“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”
~James Cash Penney, founder, JC Penney
While there’s no magic wand you can wave to achieve growth overnight, there are several ways you can keep your business steadily moving forward.
7 Easy Ways to Grow Your Small Business
1. Learn What Your Customers Really Want
If you don’t understand your customers, how can you offer them the products and services they crave?
And we’re talking about a lot more than knowing their names, ages, and incomes. You’ve got to delve deeper and learn your customers’ hobbies, tastes, and interests, along with their favorite social media sites and buying behavior.
It’s important to understand what types of people are most likely to want—or need—the products or services you provide. Grow suggests asking yourself the following questions to determine the consumer demographic you should be targeting:
- What are the reasons people should purchase your products or services?
- How often will people need to buy your products or utilize your services?
- Who are consumers buying your products or services for?
- Where are consumers most likely to purchase your products or services?
Inviting casual shoppers and regular customers to provide honest feedback helps you get a glimpse into the mind of your customers, making it easier to develop products and services that are suitable to current market demands. Plus, it helps you pinpoint areas in which your company needs to improve.
2. Polish Up Your Customer Service
Even if you have superior products, it will be difficult to keep your customers happy without exceptional service.
“I have learned to imagine an invisible sign around each person’s neck that says ‘Make me feel important!’ ”
~ Mary Kay Ash, Founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics
Make sure your customers know that they are valued. When they have problems, address them right away. If they have questions, answer them in an unhurried and thoughtful way. Customers should never feel awkward or uncomfortable about raising concerns and they should always feel like you genuinely want to help them.
Social media provides you with an excellent way to listen to your customers. And if they have an excellent customer service experience, there’s a good chance that they’ll recommend you to others.
3. Build Customer Loyalty
In this day and age, it’s not enough to simply get customers to buy your products and services. You need to go the extra mile and foster a sense of loyalty.
Extending the length of your customer interactions gives you a greater opportunity to create a positive experience and build a strong relationship. Furthermore, listening to customer feedback and providing useful and relevant advice—even if it means you have to occasionally direct your customer to another source—will help you establish loyalty with customers.
“With the creation of premium loyalty programs and the changing tastes of consumers,” says IT Pro Portal, “the status-quo loyalty program just isn’t enough to keep the modern-day customer from browsing at your competitors.”
There is no room for complacency in the service you provide. Once loyal customers can easily be drawn away by competitors whose service is even the tiniest bit better than yours. To keep them from wandering, make sure your rewards are relevant and customized, that they are simple and straightforward, and that your staff is well trained on how your loyalty program works. It’s also a good idea to continuously review and tweak your offers so that you can meet current consumer demands.
4. Take advantage of Social Media
Every business today should be leveraging social media channels. Why? Because their audience is hanging around on popular social networks, as well as engaging and connecting with their favorite brands.
That’s the word from LYFE Marketing, who points out that by taking advantage of social media, businesses can better serve customers while simplifying their online marketing.
“71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if they have a positive experience with it on social media.”
Source: LYFE Marketing
Social media reaches thousands of people all at once without you having to spend a lot of money to attract new customers. Plus, listening to consumers and reading their comments helps you understand their shopping behavior and find ways to meet their needs.
5. Invest in Professional Development
“Employees are your company’s most important assets,” says Recruiter. “Their training and professional development is something you should invest heavily in.”
The success of your business depends on the quality of training you provide. Professional development gives employees a sense of purpose and helps build loyalty to your brand. Good training also improves employee engagement and decreases turnover. This means you save money over the long run and build a team of talented workers who help you stay ahead of the competition.
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
6. Make a Habit of Attending Networking Events
There’s a really good reason to attend networking events, suggests DUE.” They lead to more money.”
How? First of all, it’s extremely difficult to build a business if you’re sitting behind a computer screen every day. By attending industry events, you open yourself up to new opportunities such as connecting with influencers, finding mentors, and establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
If you’re not currently attending industry events, start making it an essential part of your business growth strategy. “Networking is a great way to connect with people who can help you build your business,” says Small Business Trends. After all, you never know who you’ll encounter, whether it be potential employees, new prospects, or possible investors!
7. Get Involved in a Cause
According to Investopedia, social responsibility demonstrates to consumers that your company is interested in more than just profit margins. Whether you choose to get involved in a social issue that’s local, national or global, showing a concern for others can directly influence buying decisions for customers seeking to make an ethical purchase. “This, in turn, can lead to greater profits for a business,” says Investopedia.
“When the importance of social responsibility is recognized as part of a business’s foundation, the impact of such endeavors can have life-changing consequences for recipients of aid and, equally, instill a sense of pride in the people who support and work toward its growth. A business can grow with or without social responsibility, but doing good for others allows a business to reap rewards in many ways.”
Corporate social responsibility can also help boost employee morale, resulting in greater productivity. Workers want to feel emotionally connected to the companies they work for, and having a charitable cause to focus on will help employees feel that the work they’re performing is having a positive impact on their community.
Pay close attention to which of the above approaches work best for your business so you can use them again and again. Strategies that don’t help your business move forward should be eliminated as soon as possible. Ultimately, you want to focus on the methods that keep your company relevant in the eyes of consumers.
“Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.”
~ William Durant, co-founder, General Motors
Be patient and learn from the methods that fail—which is actually an important part of success (just try not to repeat them). Oh, and remember…it’s not so much where your business stands now that matters, but the direction it’s heading in. The important thing is to keep improving and keep moving forward!
Also published on Medium.