Tag - Growth

Taking the Initial Steps that Help Grow Your Business

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.

Niche Markets

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:

  1. You market your current products and services to target audiences different from the ones your currently market to.
  2. 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.

Conclusion

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.”

-Babe Ruth

 

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

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Taking On the Mantle of Leadership

Leadership skills are paramount to being successful in business.  Leadership qualities come natural to some, to others it is an acquired skill, honed to near perfection through the test of time and trial. Whether you are the founder of a company, a CEO, an assistant manager, or an entry level employee, to enhance your position or advance your career, there will come a time when you will be given the responsibility that extends beyond your comfort zone and your inherent abilities.  With responsibility will come many opportunities to exercise the leadership skills that will distinguish your competencies for the rest of your career.

Hesitation and Learning Leadership

Naturally, there are people with the propensity to shy away from this reality, reluctant to assume the responsibility because of uncertainty or the consequences if they fail.  They may think they do not possess the qualities or abilities needed to take on responsibility and effectively lead.  This feeling is natural (I can’t tell you how many times I have felt this way).  I have come to learn that effective leadership skills are not necessarily exclusive to people with a natural talent for it.  The ability to exercise successful leadership and act accordingly in a situation is not something that is out of your grasp.  In this post, I will be presenting some of my thoughts on leadership and how to identify and develop leadership skills.  Fortunately, leadership skills are universally applicable regardless of the field you are in or your station in life. You will find that they extend beyond your professional life, serving to enhance your personal life as well.

Defining Leadership

What is leadership?  That’s the first question to answer in a post like this. As such, I define leadership as coordinating people of different backgrounds and skills, allowing them to maximize the potential of their talents as needed, and providing them the available resources to accomplish some kind of objective.  Let’s break this down to understand the different parts.

“Coordinating…”

A great leader possesses the ability to assess a particular situation, then formulate and execute a strategy to complete an objective.  They also ensure they set an example for the team they are leading.  They do not ask the people on their team to take on a task of great difficulty that they have not already done or would not be willing to do themselves. However, leaders are keenly aware of when and how to effectively collaborate with their team.

 “People of different backgrounds and skills…”

Regardless of the situation or the task at hand, leaders will have teams of people that come from diverse backgrounds and abilities.  There are varying personality traits and dynamics like introverts and extroverts, people of different races, belief systems, and so on.  There are also different levels of skills each person possesses for the task at hand.  Some may have years of training or education, while others may be inexperienced and untested with a limited skillset.  As a leader, it’s crucial that you know your team, while recognizing each team member’s individual skills and strengths, along with their weaknesses. It’s also good to identify the dynamics and animations that help to create the cohesion that binds them together, serving to foster an “esprit de corps” that collectively delivers positive and impactful results.

“Allowing them to maximize the potential of their talents as needed…”

Each member of the team you lead has their own skills that they bring to the table. Another thing to be aware of is recognizing the potential your team members possess.  The potential of people to accomplish goals and exercise their talents is greater than they may realize.  As a leader, encouraging them to express their innermost thoughts and ideas helps them to discover more about themselves and their abilities and skills.

“Providing them the available resources to accomplish some kind of objective.”

A great leader does everything in their power to set their team up to succeed.  There is no way to provide everything for them, but doing everything in your power as a leader to provide your team with the resources they need increases the possibility of success.

Developing Leadership Skills

Developing the skills to become a great leader does not happen overnight.  It takes time to analyze, access and then acknowledge (believe me, I am still learning a great deal about people that blows my mind!). Remember, the key to developing strong leadership skills: never stop learning how to lead.  There are many sources to learn leadership skills from, but an effective way to accomplish leadership development is to do it on 2 different levels.  The first is on a personal development level and the second is on the level of professional development.

Personal Leadership Development

Personal development takes place when you work to develop yourself as a leader.  Leading others cannot happen if you do not work on improving your current skill set.  Developing your own skills and realizing your potential allows you to develop experience for future situations you may face.  Developing skills can come from reading books on leadership or going through educational programs online or learning in person.  However, one way that I believe is most effective at personally developing leadership skills and imparting leadership lessons effectively is through mentorship.

Finding a mentor that has exercised leadership in the kind of field or fields you want to become proficient in can provide guidance in many ways.  Their past experience can provide insight and guidance to help solve challenges you currently face.  Their advice can also help you decrease gaps in your current experience or knowledge.  Decreasing these gaps with the help of your mentors provides you the opportunity to resolve challenges relatively faster and with greater confidence.  Time saved from not having to struggle with old challenges frees up time for you to test yourself with new challenges.  New challenges, developing new skills, and stepping outside of your comfort zone builds and strengthens personal development.  Challenging yourself in new situations induces your capacity and fortitude to become accustomed to new and challenging situations that are less likely to catch you by surprise.  These are all ways that can help you grow and develop as a leader on a personal level.  But, this is only half of the equation.  To fully develop as a leader, we need to develop the second half of the equation.  This is leadership on the professional level.

Professional Leadership Development

Developing leadership skills on a professional level means applying what you have personally learned in your professional setting.  This is the most effective way to fully develop leadership skills: through the practice of leadership.  Take what you have learned on your own about leadership and apply those ideas and lessons in your place of work and other places in your life where you have authority or responsibility over others (e.g. clubs, volunteer organizations, or other groups you belong to). The idea is to use these new skills to motivate, organize, and improve the dynamics of how your team functions.  Getting closer to the definition of leadership developed earlier in this post (or even surpassing previous standards) is one step toward becoming a great leader and growing your skills.  Remember to allow your team to exercise their creativity and their talents; monitoring their work too closely or micromanaging their work, especially if they are performing well, is something leaders are to avoid.

The End Result of Leadership

While leading the team to complete the task at hand results in success, a great leader knows that there is still a greater end.  As stated before, you never stop learning how to lead.  There is always more to learn, and there is always need for leaders.  The ultimate result of leadership is not only to coordinate a team, manage team dynamics, and maximize team potential.  A great leader is able to build up their team and inspire members of that team to become leaders themselves.  Leaders not only want to see those team members and those that come after them become just as great at leadership as they were.  They want those future leaders to surpass them and set the standard even higher.

Leadership

Myself and other panelists at a 2016 Tea Time Event.  We shared our stories about pursuing dreams and leadership success with high school students at East Career & Technical Academy in Las Vegas, NV.

 

Leadership, as its final result, is continuing to build people up and help them to grow and excel.  It is hard work and it takes time to become proficient at it, but I hope this advice helped to break down some of the steps to eventually reach leadership success.  If you haven’t taken that step to develop some leadership skills, just remember: great leaders had to start somewhere…and they have never mastered leadership.  They are always learning – each and every day. So, what have you learned today?

Have a great week.

  • Jennifer
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