There’s no better feeling than seeing your business grow and getting your products or services in the hands of the right customers. However, as you expand, your operations, finances, and other factors should be anything but “business as usual.” We’ll share five steps you can take as a business owner to sustain your success, stay competitive, and continue serving your customers with convenience and quality. It is always important to take time to work “on” your business, not just “in” it.
#1 Redefine Your Business Goals
Entering into a new stage of business growth is an excellent time to reevaluate your goals and identify areas to stretch or improve. Whether looking at the next six months or five years, it’s important to have a plan and define where you want to go. For example, ask yourself:
- Is there a new market or customer segment you want to target?
- Is it time to shift the focus of your service offerings to meet your customers’ needs?
- Is there a technology or professional development that could help increase your productivity?
#2 Leverage Your Local Business Network
Fortunately, there are usually at least several local resources available to business owners who are scaling their business, which eliminates some of the guesswork that comes with figuring out your next steps. Contact your local business network to:
- Network with other local professionals. Connecting with other business leaders can create a new customer lead, supplier contact, or capital opportunity, among other possibilities. It’s also beneficial to consult with other business owners who can inspire your next business steps or offer a solution you don’t readily see.
- Get business resources and training. In San Diego, for example, groups like the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network provide no- or low-cost resources such as workshops, advising, and business tools to small business owners. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get affordable advice from business experts.
#3 Streamline Your Operations
As you take on more business, it’s critical to review your operations for efficiency and areas for improvement, especially as customers have come to expect a more convenient, responsive, and seamless consumer experience. Whether you decide to delegate more tactical tasks to your team or invest in software to accelerate production, identify ways to preserve one of your most valuable resources: time.
- From leading your staff and customer care to finding new business, take note of where most of your time goes in managing your company. Are there ways to be more efficient?
- Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and review the end-user experience. For example, could you remove redundancies to make it more intuitive or less clunky?
- Is there an area of your business that could be outsourced or automated? Investing in the right tools and professionals can help free up your time to be more productive, reach more people, and generate more revenue.
#4 Manage Your Cash Flow
According to Score, the number one reason businesses fail is due to cash flow problems. It’s imperative to take a proactive and defensive approach to manage your cash flow to maintain momentum as your business grows. Don’t wait until it’s too late or it becomes a “fire drill”.
- Ensure you not only have enough capital on hand to pay your bills and fulfill payroll every month but also to pursue spur-of-the-moment investment and growth opportunities as they arise.
- Consult with a professional who can guide you in a pricing and invoicing model that supports and sustains your business.
- Have a plan for the unexpected. For example, you can experience a temporary gap in your cash flow for several reasons. Knowing where to go to secure capital, such as through traditional or alternative financing, can help fill that gap while keeping your doors open.
#5 Expand Your Reach
Elevating your business also includes reaching new customers. Luckily, with things like the internet and your current customer base, it may be more feasible than you think.
- Give your website a makeover, add new retail locations, or offer an online buying experience. All these options can help extend your reach while improving the experience of existing customers.
- Have a social media strategy. Currently, 4.62 billion people worldwide use social media, so your future customers are probably online. But remember, it’s less about winging it and more about standing out. Being consistent online, developing a community, and using social media as an extension of your brand voice and customer care can go a long way in helping you reach new audiences.
- Nurture your current customer base. According to Signpost, 83% of customers will recommend a business to a friend after a positive experience—which is reason enough to refine your customers’ experience and invest in the customer journey, such as through email marketing and retention campaigns.
Growing your business is an exciting time, but it’s also when you should take proactive steps, such as the ones outlined above, to meet new demand and customer needs while positioning your company for the future. Please contact our team for more business resources, guidance, or alternative funding information. We’d love to be a partner in your business’s journey.