- Whether you’re a solopreneur looking to boost your revenue or a small company hoping to get bigger, you may be wondering how to grow your business. Here are 18 tips, many of which you can put to use today, to help you meet your growth goals.
1. Define Your Niche
First, before you take another step, ask if you have really defined your market? Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is our target audience or market?
- What is our mission?
- What do we do differently than everyone else?
If you’re trying to serve everyone everywhere, guess what? You’re really serving nobody. The more specifically you can drill down your specialty, the more you’re going to attract customers who really want your product or service and who will be passionate enough to recommend you to others.
2. Do Your Homework
Next, do a bit of research to see how your business compares to others in your category. What are they doing poorly that you could improve on? Are they killing it in areas where you’d like to thrive too? Use your competitors’ successful strategies as models and then tweak them to make them uniquely yours. For example, if the other fruit market in town has two-for-one pineapple Fridays, maybe you want something similar, like a customer loyalty card.
3. Go for Low-Hanging Fruit
Before looking for any new business, give some thought to your existing clients or customers. It’s always easier to get more business from someone who is already giving it to you than to close new accounts. There are multiple ways to expand on your current customer base or what you’re earning from them:
- Ask them for a higher volume of work or product sales.
- Raise your rates on some billables.
- Inquire about providing them with additional items or services.
- Ask them for referrals (even in-house, if they’re a large company).
4. Put Social Media to Use
Using social media is at the top of the list for most companies when it comes to growth strategies, but it is rarely used right. To really utilize social media to its fullest potential, you’ll need to invest time and energy. Follow these steps to get you started:
- Find the right social media platforms for your business. Don’t try to do too many; it’s better to get a few right rather than to overwhelm yourself. You can always add more later. Think about which sites are best for what you offer, e.g., Twitter for fast-breaking tech news vs. Pinterest for photogenic topics like food or travel.
- Set up your profile so it’s attractive and gives a good sense of your business. Don’t forget to include a link to your website.
- Start following accounts in your field, both other providers and potential customers. Look for industry gurus and see who they’re following.
- Start creating dialogues. It’s not enough to put up a post and hope for the best. Make sure you’re sharing other people’s content and making comments where it counts.
- Share all your news, such as product launches, editorial coverage (see below), new hires, and events you’re attending.
5. Attend Conferences and Trade Shows
Aim to attend at least one major conference or trade show in your industry per year, if not more. Ways you can make a splash at meetings:
- Have an attractive vendor booth.
- Give away samples or value-added items.
- Participate in discussions and breakout sessions.
- Offer to speak or give a presentation.
- Present a white paper or new research.
- Let everyone know you’ll be there in advance and offer to connect.
- Host a hospitality suite or take a group to dinner.
6. Sponsor or Volunteer
In some fields, you can reap big rewards when you’re willing to give a little first. For example, if you’re a pet photographer, why not sign up to be a sponsor for a dog or horse show. Event sponsors typically get their names in the program or on a banner and may be entitled to VIP treatment where you can make connections. Could you give away your product or service in a charity raffle or silent auction? What about volunteering with a nonprofit?
7. Consider Paid Advertising
With so many free opportunities available these days, few people want to think about paid advertising, but it may be worth it in certain circumstances. Places to consider:
- Trade journals
- Magazines read by your clients
- Local newspapers or coupon flyers
- Facebook ads or promoted Tweets on Twitter
- Area businesses
- Television and radio
- Google or websites
- Event programs
If you’re not sure, try a small ad for a short time period and see what happens. Take the time to make your advertisement look good and don’t skimp on graphics and proofreading.
8. Get Yourself Noticed
While it’s great to put your business out there in cyberspace or in print, sometimes you need to get noticed in real life. If you don’t have a storefront or if you’re off the beaten path, how can you put your business where people will see it? Think about eye-catching advertising like billboards or giant inflatable items. The latter is ideal if you’re sponsoring or hosting an event. Inflatables are also perfect for grand openings, sporting competitions, and dull business facades.
9. Use Email Campaigns
No matter whether you’re selling a product or a service, email campaigns can be a successful way to boost your bottom line. There are a couple of ways to go about this. You can always cold pitch, which means approaching potential customers you don’t know and promoting whatever your business offers. Put together a list of desired targets and keep track of it on a spreadsheet or CRM (customer relations management) platform. If you’re not sure where to start, LinkedIn is a good jumping off point.
Another option is to let people come to you and build an email list. How do you do that? Try adding a blog to your website with a subscriber signup, or offer a free instant download in return for an email address (AKA a lead magnet). Once you have a list, put together an email campaign of several emails (AKA a funnel) introducing yourself more and asking for their business. This method can take a while but it can pay off big time too.
10. Look for Editorial Coverage
Editorial coverage in print (or these days online) refers to non-advertising articles and opinion pieces. You can write these yourself or hire a professional to craft something. Some publications take unsolicited pieces, while others ask you to pitch the story first before they okay it.
Another tactic is to befriend journalists and editors with the publications at the top of your list and let them know you’re interested in being a source for your industry or you’d like to write something for their next issue. This helps grow your business, not just as a high-earning enterprise, but as an authority in your field.
A third strategy is to use the old-fashioned press release, still very much in practice today. Make sure you use the proper format for a release and double check that you’re sending it to the right person.
11. Set Up an Online Store
Almost any business could set up an online store if they wanted to. You don’t need to sell a product to have a store. Sell your services online or set up training videos and webinars. The idea is to find something you’re good at that people will pay money for.
Even the most basic websites today make it simple to add a store element, but there are also lots of online platforms where you can set up a store too.
12. Expand on Your Current Products or Services
Remember, within your niche you want to be more specific rather than less. But that doesn’t mean you can’t expand your products or services within that market. For example, let’s say you have a business making antique reproduction clocks. You don’t want to start making modern clocks and clocks in other styles because that detracts from your uniqueness. But what if you expanded the type of antique-style clocks you made? Instead of just grandfather clocks, you could make mantel clocks, carriage clocks, and the like, which would appeal to the same set of buyers.
13. Hire Staff or Franchise
Your business can get bigger physically too to grow revenue. If you feel understaffed and overworked, it may be time to hire more staff or take on interns. Use the new help to spend more time prospecting accounts or meeting personally with customers.
If your business is doing well enough you could also start franchising it. This is obviously a bigger move than buying ads or going to some new trade shows. But there may be people who want to take advantage of your brand via the franchise method. If this sounds like it would work for your business, the next step is to talk to an attorney and your financial advisor for advice.
14. Apply for a Small Business Loan
Sometimes it takes capital to grow your business, whether for new equipment, vehicles, office space, or salaries. If you have strong numbers and a good credit record, you may be eligible for a small business loan. Start with the institution where your business banks since they already know your reliability and potential. Otherwise, there are local, state, and federal loan programs for which you may qualify, especially if you as the owner are a member of an underserved population.
15. Join Clubs and Associations
Joining groups related to your industry or dedicated to local service can be a wonderful way to make new connections and meet potential customers for your business. Some suggestions:
- Professional associations of other people in your industry
- Alumni organizations
- Chamber of commerce
- Service clubs, like Rotary International
- Country clubs and recreational facilities
- Nonprofits with a shared mission as your business
These groups offer many opportunities for networking, like luncheons, golf tournaments, and speaking engagements.
16. Create Affiliate Programs
Do you have great sales with your business and want to do more without a lot of work? Try creating an affiliate program. Other people can promote your product or service, and when someone buys, they get a cut of the profits. You still get the lion’s share of the revenue without having to do the sales and marketing. You can set up a formal affiliate program or just work informally with people you know.
Affiliate programs work well when you know people who share an interest in your industry. For example, if you have friends who love to blog about beauty products, and you have a skincare line, why not let your friends promote your items for a percentage of the sales?
17. Get on Lists and Directories
It helps to be named in both print and online directories and other lists of top providers in your field. There must be someone who keeps such a list for your industry. It’s often worth a relatively small fee to be included if a directory is widely used. No directory in your niche? Why not create one and charge other people in your industry to be included?
18. Look for Passive Income Opportunities
Creating your own industry directory is just one example of how you can grow your bank account with passive income. When looking for ways to make money without a ton of work involved, try these ideas:
- Writing and selling short ebooks
- Creating a training or certification program with pre-recorded modules
- Teach webinars or publish a course
- Invest in real estate or a business related to your field
- Rent out your office space or equipment
- Sell ads on your website or blog
- Create a “members only” section on your website with special deals or content
These are just some suggestions, but there’s really no limit once you start getting creative and build on previous successful ideas. The main thing is to do a bit of work up front and then let the program pay for itself again and again while you move on to other projects.
Want more help promoting and growing your business? Contact Inflatable Gurus today. We have amazing ideas to help you get the recognition–and the revenue–your company wants.