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So you’re operating a small business and things are going pretty well. You’re not setting the world on fire, but you’re turning a small profit and you’re able to keep the staff you have. Things are satisfactory. Think about it for a moment, though – is satisfactory really what you signed up for? You started your business for ambitious reasons, not to become just successful enough. You need to catapult your business to the next level and start realising your full potential. Here are 10 ways to do that.
Implement a social media strategy
If you don’t already have a dedicated social media strategy, you should definitely be working on one. Social media is the cornerstone of modern marketing; without social media, you won’t be able to build a presence for your brand and nobody will know who you are. Don’t feel like you have to do all the work yourself – consider hiring an agency.
Conduct exhaustive demographic research
Knowing who you’re marketing to can be the difference between runaway success and failure. If you’re performing adequately in sales terms but you want to improve, there’s no better way to do that than to improve your marketing process so you’re directly targeting the people who take advantage of what you’re offering. Think about your product. What is it? Who would be best served by using it? That’s your core demographic. Now research how those people use social media, how they consume their products, and what you can do to make sure you’ve got your foot in that door.
Set ambitious goals
One of the reasons you’re not growing could be because you’re being too realistic. It makes a lot of sense to be reasonable about your business goals; if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’re going to suffer. Still, you could maybe stand to be a tad more ambitious in your goal-setting. Instead of sticking with your annual target figures, try increasing them a little and pushing your staff to give you just a little more. Search for markets that might be slightly outside your typical demographic and see if you can make headway there. Ways to branch out are always there; you just have to find them.
When you’re a small business owner, the temptation is always there to take over and do everything yourself. If you do this, you’re making a big mistake. You might think that operating everything personally is a good way to make sure it’s all done right, but in reality, you’re just opening yourself up to burnout and probably missing crucial details because you’re too busy. If you’ve got staff, make sure you delegate tasks to them. That will free you up for the important managerial tasks. If you don’t have staff, consider hiring freelancers to take some of the workload.
Learn good time management
No small business owner ever became successful while dedicating literally every second of their life to their business. Use your time effectively to plan your business strategy. Plot everything out visually so you can see it clearly and allocate time to it. Decide which are the important tasks and which can be safely done at a later date when you’re not too busy. Learning good time management is crucial for increasing efficiency, and the more your efficiency increases the more your business will profit and grow.
Communicate with other business owners
Other business owners may be your rivals, but they are categorically not your enemies. That sort of adversarial thinking can stop you from building connections and keep your business from growing. If you want tips on how to grow your business, don’t be afraid to communicate with other business leaders and ask for their advice. The more you forge connections and friendships within your industry, the more people will look to you when they need your services instead of a competitor. Don’t think of other business owners as enemies; think of them as friends and everyone will benefit.
Check your numbers
A good business owner knows their numbers inside and out. Being aware of your business’ operational parameters is definitely a good skill to have. Although you should delegate tasks, you should still be aware of everything that’s going on and what it’s costing you versus what you’re bringing in. Know your staff’s salaries. Be aware of every expenditure (within reason, of course). The more you know and keep track of surrounding your business, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with anomalies when they arise.
Keep up with tech trends
Nothing sinks a small business faster than a clear lack of awareness regarding the modern world. If you’re not au fait with tech, you’re going to struggle, whether you’re a tech business or not. Be aware of things like responsive design, machine learning, and storing data in the cloud. None of these are massively new concepts in the world of tech, but they could save your business a huge amount of time if you know how to implement them correctly. Contact people who know about tech and ask if they can join your company in an advisory capacity. The knowledge will pay for itself.
Don’t neglect day-to-day maintenance
When you’re thinking big picture, it can be very easy indeed to forget the small stuff. As a small business owner, it’s extremely important to pay attention to that aspect of your business. The devil, as they say, is in the detail, and if you overlook one crucial part of a transaction just because it’s “beneath you”, then that could bring an entire quarter’s profit crashing down. Don’t ever feel like you’re bigger than dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Make sure you’re going over everything on a basic level before you’re moving on to the advanced stuff.
Focus on your customers
It can be easy to get bogged down by business minutiae when you’re a small business owner, but the number one most important aspect of your business is the customer. Don’t ever lose sight of who they are and what they want from you. If your customers feel rejected, they’ll quickly move on to competitors who treat them better. If they feel like they’re being engaged with, then your business will grow as positive word-of-mouth spreads and more customers become interested. Losing focus on your customers is a surefire way to stop your business moving to the next level.