Uncertainty is not unfamiliar territory for business owners. However, these past few years have brought a significant amount of ups and downs to entrepreneurs everywhere and in nearly all industries. While some companies focused on their short-term goals, other businesses went all-in on securing long-term growth. Developing sound strategies for growing a business, executing those strategies, and streamlining processes are all part of the equation that makes a tremendous difference, whether in an environment of consistency vs. unpredictability and abundance vs. scarcity.
Let’s take a look at 10 ideas entrepreneurs might consider as they strive to put their businesses on a growth trajectory. As you read through these thoughts, keep in mind that there are no “one-size-fits-all” growth solutions. What might benefit your business may be different than for someone else’s.
1. Make Customer Service a Top Priority
First and foremost, excellent customer service requires a deep understanding of your customers. Your products and services must satisfy their current needs, but needs evolve and change over time.
Tip: Take a survey or dig into online reviews to shed some light on what your business is doing well and what you need to improve upon.
Besides fine-tuning the quality of your offerings, look for ways to improve how quickly, thoroughly, and professionally your company’s customer service team responds to questions and issues. We live in an era of instant gratification. For example, according to the 2020 Sprout Social Index, 79% of consumers expect brands to respond to them within 24 hours of when they reached out to them on social media and 40% expect a reply within the first hour!
However, the speed of responding alone cannot create a stellar customer service experience. Customer care team members must be empowered through training to understand your company’s offerings and how to build rapport with your customers.
2. Diversify Your Offering and Delivery
It’s also critical for business owners to look for ways to expand their offerings and ways of delivering them. The available options for growing your business will depend on the industry, the location, the customer base, and other factors.
The internet has many inspirational stories about entrepreneurs who have prevailed through the pandemic by pivoting their businesses. Story after story shows heroes emerge as they put creativity into serving their customers. And it’s just the beginning. Businesses are still adapting and growing because of it.
3. Establish Company Core Values
Core values express how a company aspires to achieve its mission. They set the foundation for how leadership and employees treat each other, customers, and the community. Core values serve as the glue that helps ensure everyone (from the business owner to managers to customer service and more) shares a common purpose and strives for the same level of excellence.
Developing core values isn’t enough. You must also communicate them to your team and demonstrate your own commitment to following them.
4. Listen to Employee Input
The “Great Resignation” taught us the importance of employee communication and that communication does both ways. Employees need to know their thoughts and ideas matter. They are the people who represent your brand and see your strengths and weaknesses firsthand.
Tip: Create a clear way for employees to communicate their thoughts. Better yet, make it a formal program with positive feedback for great ideas!
Listen to their observations and concerns, then ask them about ways they think your business can improve issues and leverage opportunities. This is a great way to demonstrate your respect for your team members and recognize practical changes that can benefit your business.
5. Take a Deep Dive into Your Competition
Whether your primary competitors are near or far, it’s crucial to know what they’re doing to attract and retain customers. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, you can find a wealth of information about competitors’ products, services, and marketing tactics via Google searches.
Take some time to look at their website and social media accounts to research their offerings, pricing, promotions, special deals, and marketing messaging. How does their approach differ from yours? What strategies appear to be working well for them that you might consider incorporating into your customer service, product, and marketing strategies?
Check out their website and dig into their traffic to see what content is working at driving new traffic and revenue. You’ll find a lot of data readily available for you if you look in the right places.
Tip: Use a tool like SEMrush to view your competitor’s top website pages and traffic from Google.
6. Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Marketing researchers have found that it costs approximately five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Moreover, existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products, and they spend 31% more than new customers.
That’s a powerful incentive to put effort into retaining customers, isn’t it? Loyalty programs are one way to keep existing customers and get them to buy more. By rewarding loyal customers for their continued support, companies can facilitate more sales and get an edge over the competition.
Tip: Lots of software solutions offer functionality to build automated loyalty programs. Look into your ERP or POS software’s feature list to see if this capability is already there waiting for you.
7. Create Content That Matters
Craft blog, email, and social media content that will help prospects and customers solve a problem or achieve a goal. The more relevant your content, the more interest it will generate, and the more it will get shared.
Consistency also plays a role in content marketing success. Posting regularly helps ensure that you don’t lose momentum in the online following you’re building.
Tip: Tools like Hootsuite, Loomly, SproutSocial, Buffer, and others enable business owners to schedule social media posts in advance. Several of them also make it easier to monitor engagement and interact with followers who leave comments and share your posts.
Sticking to a consistent blog and email schedule is essential, too. If you don’t have a strong writer on your team or someone familiar with SEO and the ins and outs of your website’s content management system, you might consider outsourcing all or some of your blogging and website updating tasks.
Also, consider building an email list so that you have people opted into receiving periodic email messages from you with tips, announcements, new products, special deals, and other information. Sources vary in what they say is the average ROI, but most estimate it’s in the neighborhood of $40 in sales for each dollar spent on an email marketing campaign.
8. Seek Funding to Fuel Growth
Sometimes growth requires more than the financial resources a business has readily available. Fortunately, there are programs and services geared toward helping small businesses fuel their ability to expand. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers helpful information about getting business loans, seeking venture capital, crowdfunding, and other funding options.
9. Get Guidance from a Mentor
For example, SCORE, a national nonprofit, provides free, unlimited mentoring to small businesses everywhere in the United States. All mentors are volunteers with valuable business experience and expertise to share with entrepreneurs looking for guidance as they start or grow their companies.
10. Keep Up With Business Compliance
To grow a business, you need to stay in business! That’s why companies must keep up with their business compliance responsibilities.
Paying taxes, submitting state filings, maintaining required licenses, and performing other formalities correctly and on time must not be ignored or overlooked. Businesses that don’t pay attention to their compliance requirements risk fines, extra fees, penalties, and even possible suspension. Business owners also risk losing liability protection (in the case of LLCs and corporations) if they don’t fulfill their obligations.
Business owners should research the requirements that apply to them by checking with their state and local agencies and asking their attorneys and tax advisors for guidance.
Tip: Check up on your compliance health by reviewing our business compliance checklist.
CorpNet is Here to Help as You Launch, Build, and Grow Your Business
You can count on CorpNet’s team to assist you with all of the crucial filings for registering your business with the state, obtaining your EIN, applying for business licenses and permits, and much more. And we’re here to handle the ongoing filings required to keep your company in compliance year after year.
No matter what stage your business is in, CorpNet is here to help you on your journey to growth and success.