How to Grow a Small Business This Year — 13 Simple Ideas
Congratulations! You finally quit your nine-to-five job and started your own business doing what you love! Taking this leap may have been the hardest part, but that doesn’t mean that the work is over. There are myriad things to keep track of, from managing your invoice platform to connecting with potential customers. Therefore, if you find that your business has hit a plateau or you are just breaking even each month, then you’ll need to adapt a new strategy for growth.
To quote Henry Ford: “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” Doing something different doesn’t have to grandiose, radical or expensive. Sometimes small changes can bring big benefits. By implementing even a few changes, you can make 2015 a great year.
Here are thirteen simple ideas on various ways to grow your small business this year:
1. Nail Down a Branding Strategy
You probably have a basic idea of the image you want your company to convey, but to really succeed you must have a branding strategy in place. A good strategy for your business’ growth is more than just a fancy logo or a clever slogan; it will clearly state who you are, what your values are, and how you interact with your clients and customers, which helps you attract new customers and retain your existing customer base. Study successful brands with clear strategies like Disney or Starbucks from which to draw inspiration. And to make sure that everything you do supports and reinforces your brand, put it all in writing.
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2. Hold a Giveaway for Your Small Business
Reciprocity is the psychological principle behind the idea that when someone gives us something of value, we are inspired to give something back. Give users token gifts like free e-books, discount coupons or other premiums to encourage them to spend more at your store or e-commerce site. Or you can hold a contest on your Facebook page in which the winning post is the one that gets the most votes; the winner not only gets one of your products or services, but the contest allows you to expand your brand and gain new fans.
3. Automate Business Processes
Can your monthly invoicing be less hands-on? Do you have welcome packages that you put together for every new client? Is updating your customer relationship management (CRM) program time-consuming? Any process that is repeated frequently is a candidate for automation. This frees up your time to generate new leads or get more work done in a shorter period. You don’t need to hire new people for this either: the right tool can save time and effort for business owners without having to outsource any of the work. For example, Hiveage customers save up to 80 hours a month on their online invoicing with our web and mobile apps.
4. Make Use of Your Email Signature to Appeal to the Target Market
Way back when email was new, Hotmail quickly grew by including the line “P.S. Get your free email at Hotmail” in every email footer. Updating your signature frequently to reflect the current offers of your small business is a great, not to mention free, way to send your latest deals to dozens of people every day.
5. Repurpose Old Marketing Content
Get new life out of blog posts, articles, and e-books by dusting them off and publishing them in a new form. A data-heavy blog post can become an infographic. An e-book can be sectioned out into a blog or email series, and vice versa. Or your best article can be reposted on another site, such as Medium or GrowthHackers, specifically for this purpose.
6. Set Up Google Alerts for Industry News
Sometimes what you need is a new point of view. Google allows you to set up alerts for keywords and phrases that relate to your small business or industry and have results delivered to your inbox. Don’t go overboard; you don’t want to spend all day surfing online. But looking at a list of current trends and events once or twice a week can help spur creativity.
7. Sign Up For a New Social Networking Account
Which one and where? That depends on your niche. SlideShare and Quora are great places to engage with B2B clients. Pinterest is the undisputed winner with female consumers. And almost three out of four adults who log on to the net visit Facebook. By engaging online, you make users more familiar with your brand and thus more apt to buy from or hire you. Any of these social media platforms is an ideal space for engaging with your customer base (or the potential customer base).
8. Build a Website and Improve Social Media Presence
Is your website ten years old? Or worse, have you never gotten around to building one? Consider this: 66 percent of the population have shopped online, and e-commerce sales have been growing steadily each year. This means that if you don’t have a website, you missed out on your slice of the $350 billion online dollars spent in 2014. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to create professional-looking websites with SaaS (Software as a Service) companies such as Squarespace or Weebly.
9. Create a Newsletter
Email marketing services such as MailChimp and Constant Contact are great ways to help you market your product or service. These apps track how many recipients opened your email, allow you to schedule your newsletter weeks in advance, and boast a wide array of attractive templates. Even people with almost no design experience can create great-looking newsletters with this software.
10. Add Sharing Buttons to Your Website
Adding social media share buttons creates free advertising for e-commerce sites since people love to share photos of their purchases, meals, and events that they’ve attended. Include this feature on individual product pages, every blog post, and all relevant pages of your website. Be judicial here: adding too many social media sharing buttons won’t help, so limit them to 3 for each page.
11. Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce to Grow Your Business
With all the talk about the digital world we live in, it can be easy to forget face-to-face networking opportunities such as your local chamber of commerce. Members usually get business discounts, exclusive advertising and other exposure for their business, and the chance to meet other people in your community or industry. As a chamber of commerce member, you also have access to B2B mailing lists.
12. Create a Drip Campaign for the Customer Base
B2B marketers can increase sales by an average of 20 percent from making use of nurtured leads via a drip campaign. The customers who have purchased from you in the past are your very best prospects for future sales. Keep your business at the top of their minds by creating an automated series of emails that begins when they buy something from your site. Include tips to make the most out of your products, fun list articles that appeal to their interests, reminders for when it is time to reorder, and alerts to new sales or other deals.
13. Sponsor an Organization
Sponsoring an organization that could use your products or services is a simple way to get more exposure for your business. Whenever the organization holds an event or sends out a newsletter, you get free marketing for your business. And if you have a website (see #8), this makes it easy for event attendees to check you out.
How to Grow Your Small Business: In Conclusion
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but by implementing a few tried-and-true tools, you can steadily grow your small business. If you have tried these ideas on your own, or have more suggestions, please share them here so that other freelancers and small businesses can benefit too!
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