Business growth allows you to gain new levels of stability by selling more products, growing your audience and allowing for a larger margin of the market/s you operate in. The most successful way to grow your business is to do so sustainably, testing what works and consistently evaluating your progress.
Things to consider when you want to grow your business:
1. Focus on your USP
Competition is fierce amongst ecommerce businesses and potential customers are only one Google search away from going to a competitor. It’s crucial that, before you consider other strategies to grow your business, you focus on the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your business. If you already have a USP, ensure it’s still valid and encompasses the most distinctive aspect of your business. To decide on a new USP, make a list of the products and features that are unique to you, and use Google to decipher how they compare to your competitors. Highlight any of the products or services you offer that are very hard to replicate, or would take a lot of time and money to copy. Consider your business from a customers’ point of view, why should the customer take notice of you? Using these, condense your USP into a sentence or two at most, and use that as the driving force for your growth.
2. Cultivate your customer base
Focusing on your existing customers is a great way to grow your business. It’s more cost effective than finding new customers, because previous customers are familiar with your brand and the great service you offer. Utilise remarketing techniques to advertise your business to those that have visited your website in the last X amount of days, or have already bought something from you.
You can build up a newsletter list and send monthly emails with special offers, or even utilise social media to give them a personalised shout out. Work on adding as much value as possible to your business from the customers’ perspective. This could be faster delivery, simpler ordering or unique benefits just for them. A popular example of this is Amazon’s one-click ordering system. They identified that many of their customers were very busy, and needed the quickest checkout option possible. Now, customers know the ease of use when purchasing from Amazon, and are likely to keep coming back because of the convenience.
3. Spend on marketing
Spend some time working out how effective your marketing has been. Break your marketing areas down into print, online, social and offline. Look into each part and evaluate current spend and results. It may help to work out the cost per lead/customer, which will help you decide if your current spending is effective. As a general rule, you should be aiming to spend between 7 and 13% of your overall turnover on marketing.
4. Research influencers
Utilising social media influencers is a popular growth strategy amongst brands. If you want to grow your business using influencers, it is worth considering if it is a viable option, and if the audience fit is right. Your audience doesn’t need to be predominately young people to utilise influencers, brands like Nike have launched campaigns with popular lifestyle and fitness Youtubers, who have a wide audience age group. These campaigns enabled Nike to tap into the audience of those Youtubers, and boost their following on social platforms, as well as their reputation as being “in touch” with many different walks of life. If you decide to try working with influencers, a good place to start is with micro-influences. They traditionally have a smaller audiencer than larger influencers, but this audience is a lot more dedicated. They are more likely to buy the product that their influencer is promoting, because their fanbase is smaller and feels more like a community.
5. Invest in a good system
A business management system is a vital investment when growing your business. It allows you to keep track of the core aspects of your business, like inventory levels, sales and customer relationships, and minimises time spent on manual processes. A system can be used to make smart decisions in a timely fashion. Sales figures are now at your fingertips, so you can easily decide which products are most popular and would be perfect to run a promotional campaign on to boost sales. You even know who to target based on their buying habits.
Every system is different, so spend some time researching those that are suitable for you. Avoid solutions that only cover one aspect of your business, like inventory control. This type of system won’t help when you’re trying to scale, because you need to account for all the key aspects of your business, not just one of them. A good example of this is reordering. Getting the right stock at the right time starts off easy, but soon gets very complex and you will need tight control of your purchasing to get this right. Having the right stock at the right time is key to maximising profits and satisfying customers.
6. Utilise partnerships
When you partner with another business, you gain exposure to their entire audience. Being a partner gives you initial credibility with the new audience, allowing you to get a head start selling to them. You can find business partners anywhere, at trade shows, online and in directories like the Yellow Pages. When finding new partnerships, consider what you want out of an agreement, and what you’re willing to invest to make the partnership successful. Also ensure their audience is suitable for the product or service you’re selling.
7. Develop new products
While this isn’t a “quick win” and will take an initial investment, expanding your product range is an effective way to grow your business. This could be developing products you already have into a range or collection, or designing brand new products that suit your market. You should conduct some market research before deciding which approach is best to take, and consider what your customers want to see from you as a business. A tip to get you started is evaluating the products your competition is offering, so you can see what already works, and gaps you can fill.
8. Reinvest in the business
Reinvesting has helped giants like Amazon grow massively. If you aren’t already, it is worth reviewing the areas of your business that may need an injection of cash. This could mean reducing your salary initially, but once you’ve reached a stable level of growth, you can increase your salary to what it was before. Aim to reinvest at least 50% of your profits if possible.
9. Seek out external investors
You may be pouring your blood, sweat and tears into a company, but still aren’t seeing the returns you would expect. This may be time to consider seeking external investment. Angel investors can provide your business with a much-needed injection of capital, that will give you the resources to expand.
Naturally, taking someone else’s money carries certain expectations, and it may also mean giving up some of the ownership in your business, so always be clear when seeking out investment from outside your company.
10. Acquire other businesses
Conduct research on competitors that could complement your business, and then use that as leverage to scale. Well known examples of this include when PayPal purchased Honey, a tool that allows users to find discount vouchers when completing purchases. This merger will likely make PayPal a lot more popular because it now has an in-built tool to help its users save money when they go to checkout.
11. Know your figures
Use key business figures to track what is happening in your business. Create reports based on yearly turnover, sales figures and growth percentages. Track each business quarter and identify what worked, and what didn’t. You can use these figures to leverage further growth by tweaking aspects of your processes, like marketing for example, in response to what didn’t work well. Another important aspect is keeping your data up-to-date and accurate, you can control this in a business management system, or do so manually. The better the data, the better the decision, the better the outcome!