Starting a business “small” is an honorable and wise thing to do even if you have the money to start big. First, starting small gives you the opportunity to learn and practice certain business principles you may not be able to learn any other way. However, once a business is started, it is normal for one to begin desiring growth from day one. Understanding small business growth principles will spare you wasted time and misdirected resources.
If you take a close look at today’s popular giant business and care to read their stories, you will realize that the fastest growing businesses all have certain strategies and principles that guide them and which they hold very dear. Let’s consider some of those strategies and principles and explain how you can apply them to your own business no matter how small you started.
First check where your business is financially
It is tempting to become so concerned about small business growth that you forget to actually check if you are ready for growth don’t take the bait. Though having more finances or profit is not an exclusive requirement for growing a small business, you have to be prepared for the financial part of it. If you get so carried away with wanting to grow your business that you forget this principle, you might end up crumbling what you have already built and start all over again.
Look at your business financial records and see how well you have been doing. Check your profit and see if you have made enough to take the next growth step. There is cost attached to growth and that cost is relative to the level of business growth we are talking about. So be sure to check that growing does not cost you or the business more than you are able to pay for. One quick tip that will come in handy here is to never borrow for business growth unless it is absolutely necessary and you are sure that you can repay timely without hurting the business.
Ensure that there is actually a Need for growth (market demand)
Don’t just desire growth. Let the desire be backed by a purpose. Purpose here will mean there is a reason or need for the business to grow. It cannot just end at the level of a desire or it might fail. You may be having more demand than you are already supplying and want to reach these other people more. You may also see that your products and services are very much needed in another place where the business is not yet established. All these should be reasons why you decide to take the business to the next level of growth. Let the motivation never be to get more money or you might end up losing money instead.
When you decide to grow your small business because you see a need, it will be much easier to become established in the next phase of the business. Establishment is important when you step up the game in business because it saves you time and makes it even easier to move to another level of the business.
Make sure you have the necessary resources to go bigger
Like finances, growing a small business will demand more time, energy and commitment from you. you have to make sure that you are able to put in the time and make the necessary commitment. But beyond yourself, growing a business often means getting an extra pair of hands. If you already have workers or employees who can handle the next level, that will be fine but if not, then consider hiring others.
There ought to be adequate supply of manpower to stand the weight of growing a small business or you will just be promising your clients and customers more than you can deliver at the time and that will be disappointing.
Make plans for the next level
Don’t take an uninformed dive into the unknown with your business. Going to the next level is just as important as starting because if it is not done carefully, you may have to start all over. Making plans for small business growth is therefore important. Have a meeting with your employees if you have any, consider all the prospects and possibilities carefully, draw a budget and make definite plans that will guide you to the next level. Remember failing to plan is really planning to fail. Consider where, if necessary you are going to get the finances required and if you are going to get it through a loan, decide how you will pay back.
No matter how confident you are in the business’ ability and potential to grow, don’t do it without a definite business growth plan. There are many ways of growing a small business and planning will help you decide which will work best for your specific business and which might not be appropriate for the moment. Take note of every detail and make everything count.
Planning also helps you figure out where you may have overestimated or underestimated your business. There may actually be a possibility of taking a bigger step forward in your business than you thought possible and sometimes you can only realize this by making plans.
While we are still on this point of making plans, remember to include your customers in your plans. Try to know them more closely. It is a principle adopted by the fastest growing businesses. Learn what their needs are and if they have preferences or wish you could do something more. You can start off by getting suggestions from them. Place suggestion boxes or share the business email and let them give suggestions if there are any. You will be surprised what contributions your customers have to make to your business and what role it could play in enabling you grow that small business. Lastly on the planning issue, as you become more familiar with your customers, make sure you decide your niche and target it.
Let your plans and activities to grow the business from what it is today to a larger business be guided by this principle. You cannot sell to everybody and still grow your business successfully. Choose a target and serve that small group of people diligently.
Consider your funding options for the next level
Funding is usually one of the main issues for people who want to grow their small businesses. If you have issues with funding, it may be a good indication that your business is not ready for the move you desire to make. Generally, it is advisable for every business, once started, to fund itself. Let your business be self -sufficient enough to plough back its own capital and make progress that is financially independent. However, if you think your business can make it to the next level on borrowed funds (which is of course risky for small business) and you are all set to go take a loan form a bank or any other source, I have an alternative you may want to consider before taking that step.
Crowdfunding is a great means of growing a small business especially when it is of public interest and you can clearly share the dream or expectation you have for the next level with potential donors. There are so many people who will freely make donations to support your business initiative and help the business grow to the next level. You will not get the entire sum of money you may require from a single person. It is simply getting smaller sums of monetary support from different people who may be interested in what you are doing and just want to support. Getting funds through typical crowd funding implies that you do not have to pay back because the money is not lent but given.
When all of the above is done and conclusions are made to move ahead, you may want to start by diversifying your business products. Expanding the range of services and products you offer is a smart way to start off with small business growth.
If you were selling just a single product or offering just one service, you may have to consider alternatives, especially things that are related to the business. For example, someone who started by selling make-up products may consider offering manicure, pedicure and other makeup services as a way of expanding their business. In this case, the person will enjoy lower prices and knowledge of the best product because they have already been dealing with them and even customers are more likely to trust them. Thus they are better off than people who actually just start out by offering make up services.
Since people normally like buying or getting related products and services from the same place because of convenience, your best shot and the smartest thing to do is to diversify with related products and services. It will give you a strong customer base and help you relate with and serve them better. Diversifying is not just one of the many ways to grow your business. It is actually amongst the most important.
Target other markets and new locations
Small businesses often start by targeting just a small portion of the market. That is convenient at the time until you decide you actually want to grow the business. You may have the capacity to produce or serve more but not have the market reach to do so from where you are presently located. If you are selling motor parts for example, you may want to open another store or branch somewhere within the same town.
Since you are already comfortably serving or supplying every customer in your immediate location and doing so honorably and profitably, it is time to seek out new territories you can take over. Again you have to look for a place where demand matches your intended supply. Only go there when you are wanted.
Try going big by seeking government contracts
This is the big one and if you can get even a single major government contract, your business will instantly move to another level. Matter of fact you may even skip levels. Some of the fastest growing businesses got to where they are now by taking advantage of government contract. Government contracts usually pay much more than what you will get from normal sales or rendering your services to individuals.
Let’s say you are into office items and intend to grow to another level. One of the best things that could happen to you in this case will be to win a contract from a government office to supply those items. First you are going to have a constant demand that may even outweigh your supply capacity. That means you may not need to struggle for customers – at least for the time being.
This also exposes your business to better opportunities by presenting your services and products to a wide range of people who visit and work in those office. Who knows, you might get connected to even more contracts.
Consider merging with another business
One of the ways to grow your business, especially if you do not have the capacity or finances to do it alone is to merge with another business that is related to yours. Let’s revisit our makeup product sales and services. If one person sells these products and is looking forward to growing their business but does not have what it takes, she could propose merging with someone offering manicure and pedicure services but who has to buy their products from another dealer. The former may offer a lower price than what the latter is buying as a persuasive move.
In the event that both businesses decide to come together, they will experience growth by being beneficial to each other. While the business supplying the products has a steady market, the business offering those related services gets price reduction, the advantage of nearness to the products and assurance of supply.
Take advantage of the internet
The internet of today is a world of its own and just like you have the opportunity of selling products and services in a normal market you can do it even better online by taking the right steps and engaging the right online activities.
Create a blog
Running blogs on its own is a business and can bring in a lots of money if it is professionally done. You can run a blog with the aim of advertising your business, telling customers and potential customers about the business and even getting feedback from them which often proves priceless for business growth. There are two other advantages of running a blog for your business.
The first is that you get exposure to other dealers who may be interested in sponsoring the business or partnering with you. Secondly you may earn lots of money by simply attracting visitors to the blog and hence advertisers. That money could be added to your plough back capital to make better and bigger investment. At the end of the day, if this is diligently done you will hardly believe what growth your business will have attained in a matter of months or a year.
Start a Website and Run the business online
A website is similar to a blog but is more sophisticated and could serve as an online store. There are so many actual businesses that are getting much from their websites if not more. In considering a website, you can even go ahead to run an online market and reach people you may have to spend a lot to reach normally or not be able to reach at all.
Running a website is expensive too but not as expensive as running an actual business or getting products and services to far away markets.
Sell Services or products on the websites of other businesses
This is a simple way to publicize and get your products and services to people online without spending much. Perhaps running a blog or website is too time and finance demanding for you to engage in though you still see great potential and opportunities in taking your business online. You can partner with an online market or get your product advertised on blogs to create awareness and attract customers.
Take advantage of social media
Many people spend a lot of time with their phones and about 90% of that time is spent on social media. Who does not own a smart phone or at least have a Facebook profile these days. The thing has become a serious addiction and the fastest growing businesses are taking advantage of it. So should you. it is one of the easiest ways to grow your business. More so, social media advertisement is actually one of the cheapest means of online advertising there is today and very flexible too. Creating a Facebook page, WhatsApp group or Instagram profile all have the potential of bringing your business before a large number of people and frankly there is hardly an easier or cheaper way to accomplish this.
There is also the unique opportunity of doing a video promo about your business and sharing it on YouTube. Though the video may be more important if your business is offering a service, you can make videos of how people can use your products more effectively and in the course of it advertise your business smoothly. For example, a business which sells phones may specialize in doing phone review and other videos related to phones. Basically things which most mobile phone users will want to know. However, I must warn you to be careful not to sell what may be an important business idea or secret. Ideas rule the world and running a video that exposes the important secrets of your business is just simply standing in your own way or sabotaging your own efforts.
If you own a fast food producing business selling a specific kind of fast food (like burger), you should not do a video of how to make burger because then you would have made your business irrelevant. How many people will be willing to buy a burger when they can just make one that will taste just as good and probably less costly at home. That may sound straight out dump for an example but I am sure you get the point. While you seek to advertise your business and grow it to the next level, don’t let desperation drive you into selling your business idea or secret. That in itself will be a sabotage to small business growth.
Attend business and networking events
Wherever you are, you can always find some business event you can participate in to empower you for the next level of your business. You also get to meet people and business owners who may be interested in what you are doing and be willing to assist you in one way or the other.
Networking, apart from getting you to meet people, helps to expose your business, making it possible for those people you meet to refer customers to you when the need arises. LinkedIn is a great place to start networking.
Try hosting events
If you started a business and you have the finances, hosting some events related to your products or services is actually a brilliant idea and one of the most outstanding ways to grow a small business. Some of the fastest growing businesses around the word understand this technique and are using it to their advantage.
Hosting events as one of the ways to grow your business is a brilliant idea for two main reason. Firstly, it exposes your business and gives you the opportunity to win the hearts of people. You can also carry out community projects. Secondly this gives you the opportunity to invite other persons who might be interested and present your business plan to them.
There are different ways to grow your business and definitely so many principles and methods to use. You will have to consider carefully and apply the ones that will work for your business.