New business owners always have numerous dreams when they're starting out their new business, including rapid growth and recognition for their fledgling venture. But overnight success isn't often the standard: There's no specific "special sauce" to add to the recipe for instant results, and nothing is guaranteed.
However, there are ways to reach growth milestones that can catapult a business to success. We asked small business leaders to share their tips for accelerating growth.
Nearly every small business owner has stories to share about how they started out on shoestring and managed to survive their first years by being creative with limited cash. If you’re one of those entrepreneurs who wants to know how to grow your small business on a budget, there’s hope.
Dive Into Your Existing Market
When you think about how to grow your business, the first thing that probably comes to mind is getting new customers, but the customers you already have are your best bet for increasing your sales. It’s easier and more cost-effective to get people who are already buying from you to buy more than to find new customers and persuade them to buy from you. So focus on ways to get customers coming back.
Get To Know Your Customer
Understand your customer's needs and develop products and services that meet those needs. You can gain insight into your customers by personalizing your services and encouraging them to provide you with feedback.
Diversify Your Products or Services
The key to successful growth through diversification has a basis of similarity. You want to focus on the related needs of your already established market or on market segments with similar needs and characteristics. An artist might also sell frames and framing services, for instance. Or a mountain bike rental business might switch to renting skis and snowshoes in the winter season.
Focus on Your Customer Experience
Customers' perceptions of your business can really make or break a business. Deliver quality experiences and products, and they'll quickly sing your praises on social media; mess it up, and they'll tell the world even faster. Fast growth depends on making your current and potential customers happy with their experience, DeHetre said.
"Compared with large companies, small businesses are nimble, and often better able to see, anticipate and respond to their customers' needs," DeHetre said. "The most successful small businesses exploit this advantage, by bringing new and innovative products and services to market more quickly and developing and nurturing long-term customer relationships."
"Diversify your offerings so you can best cater to the customers' changing tastes," Tanjeloff said. "Remember, you are here to serve the customer — it's why you are open for business."
Invest in Yourself
In the early stages of your business, you'll likely see a very lean profit margin (or no profit at all), so any money you do make should go directly toward helping you grow.
"A startup's ability to invest in itself [helps] accelerate growth," Lanng said. "In those early years, it's critical to make sure that you're redirecting any revenues back into the company. It's vital to invest early and heavily in order to grow quickly."
Contain Your Costs
Surprised? Bear in mind that when we’re talking about growing your business, we’re actually talking about growing your business’s bottom line. And the difference between pre-tax and post-tax money can make this a very effective growth strategy. There are two main approaches to cutting costs; liquidating your “loser” products and improving your inventory turnover.
Give Something Away
Everybody loves to get free items, so create some good will by running a promotional business giveaway with items that will encourage new customers or return business. Discount coupons or percentages off of purchase are good ways to draw in business that don’t actually have an immediate effect on your cash flow.