Taking the Initial Steps that Help Grow Your BusinessJennifer Barrier
Starting a business comes from a place of passion: you are producing some kind of product or service that you believe in and that people will value enough to purchase and use for some kind of benefit in their life. As a business person, your goal is to grow a successful business. A major indicator of success for your business is an increase in the demand for your product or service.
The right question to ask yourself is “What are the proper steps to grow my business?” This is an important question to ask because there is a time and place to implement various growth strategies. If an aggressive growth strategy with a tremendous capital investment is employed (like renting a large warehouse space and purchasing a fleet of delivery vehicles) where a conservative strategy is needed (like a renovation to expand existing space or increasing the inventory purchased), not only might your new increase in supply not match your demand, but your business may lose money with an overly ambitious plan.
How do you grow your business without over-doing it? I will present you with several ideas in this blog that will help your business take those initial steps to grow. Since this blog is covering the point of initial growth in your business, I will refrain from major steps towards growth such as opening numerous locations or international hubs and keep for when my book “Trust-Based Marketing” launches. This blog will instead focus on steps that allow your business to grow without an excessive amount of risk or significant investment.
Researching Your Audience– A Safe Bet that Can Grow Your Business
Growing your business begins with determining what the business climate looks like; analyzing and accessing is necessary to achieving business success. This would be like failing to look at weather conditions prior to planning a long vacation somewhere afar only to find out you packed clothing for the wrong season! The best way to determine your business climate is to look at the target audience your business is currently able to reach and from where your purchases currently originate from. It is within this scope of current and potential customers that you can focus on growing your business. By building on your familiarity with this particular audience that your business is able to reach, you will have the ability to identify opportunities that your business can potentially expand into. By keeping your focus in effective areas within this limited scope (for the time being), you are able to concentrate your resources where they can be most efficient. This blog will explore the need to research two aspects of your audience to identify to help you expand your business reach: your niche markets and your competition.
Does your business currently serve a niche market? This is a useful question to ask because of the potential for tapping into a section of your audience you might not be aware of. If there is a segment of customers purchasing your products or services for specific purposes or because they have common interests or common traits among them, this is good information to have. You can market your products and services to this niche market in a more targeted manner. Attracting customers from this niche market to your business while keeping the current customers you have from other sources outside of the niche market can be a significant boost to the growth of your business.
Researching Your Competition
Ongoing R&D is necessary in business. Ideally, a well-rounded understanding of who your competition is will give you greater understanding, and also leave room for possibilities to work together down the road (e.g. strategic partnerships). R&D allows you to see if you need to make adjustments in your own business operations. Your competition may be doing something as simple as providing financial incentives to their customers like discounts, gifts, bargains, or service offering that you can adapt to that allows your business to compete with them. If their strategy proves to be successful, you can then develop and implement a similar strategy of your own to see how much of an advantage this proves to be for your business. A strategy that works for one business may not work for yours. Trial and error does occur. Being strategic allows you to make calculated decisions based on knowing your target audience.
Furthermore, observing your competitors can reveal valuable insight. You may have had an idea to try something your competitor has already implemented. Or, if you observe them not taking advantage of an opportunity that you are capable of seizing on, this provides you an edge that you can utilize. Even the slightest edge in business that allows you to operate better than your competitors can work to your advantage in a significant way. Staying alert of the competition will ultimately give your business a fair competitive advantage.
Grow Your Business by Creating Strategic Partnerships
Being able to produce your own products in-house or train your own employees in every aspect allows you a great amount of control over the quality of your products and services. However, to produce more of your products or services, but lack the capacity, you can enter into strategic partnerships to spread the work. Strategic partnerships allow parts of the process that are less specialized in production to be done by other companies, giving the ability to free your business up in producing the more specialized aspects of goods and services. Things to keep in mind when entering into a strategic partnership are:
- If you are dealing with a reputable company that can be trusted with aspects of your trademarked products or specialized employee training.
- If the company is able to produce aspects of your goods to your assigned standards.
- If the company is able to render the kind of services you offer to your customer service standards.
If these three criteria are met, the other major aspect that a strategic partner should meet is a reputation of trust. This is a business relationship and if the company you are entering into a partnership with does not have a reputation for keeping its promises or going back on its word, there can be no trust, and therefore, there can be no business relationship. It is impossible to enter into a strategic partnership of mutual benefit if there is no trust between the partners. This is the other aspect that has to be taken into account and that you as a business owner have to do your research on as well. Throughout my blogs, I often mention trust I have personally seen how trust plays a significant factor in all successful relationships and/or partnerships. Period.
Grow Your Business with Referrals from Current Clients
Speaking of trust, it applies not only to business partners. Trust is the fundamental aspect of any relationship, including that between your business and your customers. For your business to grow, you will want to establish a relationship of trust with your customers. This is done by offering them quality products and services that meet or exceed their expectations. It also means presenting them stellar customer service that keeps them wanting to come back and continue as loyal customers to your business.
Establishing a good relationship with these customers is something that should inspire them to refer their friends and relatives to your business. Your products, services, and dedication to customer service are draws that they will want those close to them to share and experience as well.
Having a good relationship with loyal customers should also allow you the opportunity to ask them for referrals. This can be done in a direct manner (if that level of familiarity exists between your business and that customer) or indirectly. An indirect manner could be through the use of an incentive programs for bringing in new customers. Offering discounts to loyal customers for bringing in new customers can be helpful for business growth and can help grow your customer base over time.
Extend Your Presence Through Marketing to Grow Your Business
For business growth, the first thing you may want to do is ensure that you have an adequate marketing presence within your target market. If this area lacks, it is critical to increase your efforts by reaching out to your target markets. This approach is designed through strategic development and implementation of strategy. If your target market is responsive to traditional marketing techniques such as print, radio, or television, determine what medium is most effective at reaching them and invest more of your advertising in that medium. If there is more than one traditional medium that target market is responsive to, then you need to determine which mediums will target the widest audience that will likely respond to your advertising and invest your money there. Targeting responsive audiences with strategic marketing increases the possibility of attracting them to your business and helping your company grow.
The same kind of strategy goes for targeting audiences that are responsive to digital marketing. If most of your target audience does their business with you online, then your marketing strategy may be focused solely toward online business. Investing in digital marketing that leverage the use of website content, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and other techniques will allow your business to reach a wider audience and grow your business as well.
Expand Your Market or Diversify
Another option you may consider for growing your business is to target other markets. There are several scenarios where you can branch out from your target audience:
- You market your current products and services to target audiences different from the ones your currently market to.
- Modify some of your products and services (as long as there are no significant increases in your costs) to appeal to other target audiences and test market them in surveys or focus groups.
Testing these scenarios will help you reveal information about the audience you are operating in. If the first scenario is effective, you might want to test it out with other target audiences and see how many different audiences your product or service may appeal to and to what degree.
If the second scenario applies, you may have discovered a niche market for your business. If more modification is needed to better appeal to a more responsive audience, it could be an indication that you may have found a way to begin diversifying the product and service offerings of your business. What you need eventually determine in this case is if simple modification will be enough to continue the appeal of this audience or if your business will need to create whole new products and services based on those modified goods and services to continue appealing to those audiences.
Success in either scenario means an increased level of potential for your company to experience growth.
Indeed, these are methods that your business can employ that may take some time to apply, but will not take up a significant amount of your current resources. Being aware of your target audience, being aware of your competitors, being aware of your place in a niche market, entering into strategic partnerships, getting client referrals, increasing your marketing, and diversifying your product and service offerings to different target markets are all initial steps that your business can take today to increase profits, retain customers and attract new customers. This kind of growth can help your business set goals and determine milestones for the future. This also gives you time to plan, work on strategy, and save for larger investments in the future that have the potential for increased growth, but have capital backing to decrease your risk. It is an ideal scenario that has its roots in the first steps you take when you first begin to grow your business.
JCBarrier Group, LLC is available to design your strategic plan today!
I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Thank you for taking time to read my blog. Please email me with any questions you may have at: Info@JCBarrierGroup.com
Have a great week. – Jennifer C Barrier