Running a small business is tough. With the long hours spent serving customers, dealing with suppliers, managing finances, and providing your products or services, thinking about growth often falls to the bottom of the priority list. However, if you want small business growth, it’s not going to happen by itself. It requires careful planning, a […]
Running a small business is tough. With the long hours spent serving customers, dealing with suppliers, managing finances, and providing your products or services, thinking about growth often falls to the bottom of the priority list. However, if you want small business growth, it’s not going to happen by itself. It requires careful planning, a sound strategy, and a commitment to executing that strategy to grow. The good news is that there are a number of tips for growing your small business if you’re willing to put in the work. Here are four to start with.
1. Find a new market for your product or service
You have built up a business and achieved some success by providing a product or service to a defined market. Let’s say that you run a computer repair business. You fix problems and perform hardware upgrades for consumers. Over the past 20 years, you (and your staff) have developed a competency in computer maintenance and built a solid reputation in the geography you serve. Thinking about growth, who else needs the services you can provide? How can you expand beyond your current customer base? For a computer business, the next step could be providing B2B services. Can you do the same thing you are doing now, but do it for other businesses (or municipalities, schools, etc.)? Chances are good that whatever you are doing now, there are opportunities to expand the types of customers you serve if you are willing to seek them out.
2. Expand your reach
If your company requires a brick and mortar location to operate and serve your customers (essentially any small business that is not purely an online or phone-based business), then your earning potential is limited by geography. There are only so many potential customers within a reasonable distance of where you are. If you’re set on growing your small business, you need to find a way to overcome that. The old-fashioned way is to open a second location. Figure out where your current market ends and then add a new location close to the boundary. This requires capital, additional staff, and a great deal of your time and attention to make it work. A second, more modern option is to establish some or all of your business online. Being online can eliminate geographic limitations, and getting started is fairly low cost. The challenges here are that online businesses need your time and attention to be successful and there are some small businesses that simply will not work as an online business (e.g., an ice cream parlor). Whether your business operates offline or online, the key to this strategy is to identify the limitations of your reach and find ways to reduce or eliminate them.
3. Sell other products or services to your existing customer base
A loyal group of customers is essential to the viability of a small business. And the basic premise behind any small business is that you have identified a need in the marketplace and your company provides a solution. If you know your customers well (as most small businesses do), you have probably noticed one or more needs they have beyond the ones you are meeting. Is there an opportunity there for you and your business? Somewhere along the line, printing companies saw several additional client needs (beyond simply having things printed) and tapped into those needs to expand. For example, they now offer graphic design services, copywriting, and fulfillment services. Other examples include restaurants that provide catering services and grocery stores that deliver. What do your customers need? If you know and can find a way to help them, you can grow your business very quickly.
4. Increase your capacity
For many, small businesses growth opportunities are limited by their capacity to produce their products or services. There are only so many hours in the day. You and your staff can only accomplish so much. If there is equipment involved, be it a copy machine, a lawn tractor or a pizza oven, equipment has limits too. If you find yourself thinking that any discussion of growth is absurd—you can’t possibly do anymore—then it may be time to think about increasing your capacity. This could be as simple as delegating more to eliminate bottlenecks or it could mean an investment in additional staff, a larger space, or more equipment. Like some other growth strategies, this one could require capital to execute. However, if you are unable to meet current market demand, that is a good indication that spending on more capacity could be a worthwhile investment.
Whatever your plans for growing your business may be, it’s important that you stick with them and give them time to take hold. Growth does not happen overnight. It takes persistence and lots of hard work, two things small business owners tend to know a lot about.
Santander Bank does not make any claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial or tax strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Santander Bank.
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