After the Herculean effort of starting a business, the next hurdle is to make it thrive. The top ways small businesses grow start with customers, loyalty, and communication.
Listen To Customers
It seems logical that a growth strategy would be about expanding a customer base. But many small businesses grow by deepening their relationship with existing customers. Listening to customers, showing them their opinions are valued, and rewarding loyalty are all strategies that could lead to good reviews and positive word of mouth for a small business. By knowing their customers, small businesses can expand by offering new products and services customers want. Retaining existing customers and broadening their support for the business is an effective growth strategy. Retention is also less expensive over time than securing new customers with marketing campaigns.
Small businesses grow by making good use of social media to engage customers and the broader community. Small businesses can use their social media presence to engage existing and new customers by providing consistent updates and news about products and services.
Build a Sales Funnel and Use a Customer Relationship Management System
A sales funnel is a technique to attract prospective customers to a business’ website. Once they are aware of the business, the next steps are to increase their interest, encourage them to make a purchase decision, and get them to act on that decision. Capturing data about visitors, including offering something in return for their email address, is the first step toward populating a customer relationship management system (CRM) that can manage sending out email updates and special offers, newsletters, and surveys to keep customers engaged. The CRM will also help measure success when you introduce a new product or service, and tell you which kinds of communications your customers find engaging, and which they don’t.
Emphasize Expertise and Differentiate
Every small business should be able to say what makes them different and better. Small businesses grow, or “scale,” by expanding to new locations, adding products or services, or becoming known as the best, most knowledgeable, or even the quirkiest and most entertaining in town. Restaurants scale by leveraging their chef’s reputation for creating great food, and their staff’s reputation for great service. Other small businesses grow by anticipating consumer needs and meeting them with innovation. Sometimes, a small business that has been doing “just okay” can grow by updating its look, its brand, or its technology.
It takes passion to start a business and make it thrive. Growing a small business is the next step. Scaling requires patience, data, cash, and a well-trained, loyal team willing to move ahead together.