Anyone can start a small business. Thanks to the internet, the barriers to entry into most industries have all but disappeared. But there’s a difference between launching a business and growing a business. Turning something small into something big is a challenge that must be fully embraced.
Getting From “Here” to “There”
Research shows that just one-tenth of one percent of companies will ever reach the mark of $250 million in annual revenue. And even if you’re shooting much lower – say $1 million in annual revenue – your odds are still quite low. In other words, you aren’t going to stumble into a seven-, eight-, or nine-figure business. It requires a growth strategy.
A growth strategy is basically a documented approach with actionable systems and processes that take you from where you are today to where you want to be three, five, or 10 years down the road. Every company’s growth strategy looks different, but it’s imperative that you have one.
3 Business Growth Strategies
Your definition of growth will depend on your specific goals. It can look like adding new locations, acquiring more clients, expanding your product line, growing top-line revenue, growing the bottom line, etc. It ultimately depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. With that in mind, here are some useful suggestions that tend to work in most situations:
- Ask Your Customers
If your idea of growth is to stuff your team into a boardroom and share ideas until something sticks out, you’re probably going about your growth completely wrong. Nothing against your team, but they’re directly affected by blind spots and biases. They’re too close to the fire to have a high degree of objectivity.
A better method for identifying potential growth channels is by asking your customers. Surveys, focus groups, research reports – whatever it takes. Ask your customers pointed questions about what they want and then develop solutions that satisfy these needs.
If you’re looking for a documented process you can use to generate better results, consider the ASK method funnel that was created by entrepreneur Ryan Levesque. This method follows a six-step process where you prepare, persuade, segment, prescribe, profit, and pivot. The entire premise of this funnel is that you let your customers guide your growth. And once you do, everything else falls into place.
- Expand Your Online Visibility
It’s nearly impossible to have a thriving business in today’s marketplace without a robust online presence. The problem is that most companies fail to invest the necessary resources into building a brand. This prevents them from engaging with customers in powerful ways that produce conversions (and ultimately cultivate loyalty).
Expanding your online visibility is more than just creating a blog and posting on social media. You need a full-fledged plan that proactively puts you in front of new people who have never been exposed to your brand before.
One way to improve visibility is by launching a white hat link building plan that taps into guest blogging programs and helps you reach new audiences.
Another strategy is to appear as a guest on popular podcasts in and around your niche. This has the dual benefit of increasing credibility and reach.
A third option is to author your own book. (This works especially well if you’re the face of the business and people directly correlate you with the brand.) It doesn’t even matter if anyone buys the book. The simple fact of having authored a book gives your brand more credibility.
- Grow Lean and Fail Fast
As you grow, avoid throwing too much money or resources into any one decision. You want to stay lean. Adopt the idea of producing a minimally viable product (MVP) and then listen as your customers provide feedback.
In a similar vein, you must be willing to fail fast. There’s nothing wrong with launching something and quickly failing. The bigger sin is launching something that’s destined to fail and then sticking with it for months or years before cutting it loose.
Putting it All Together
Developing a growth strategy is the first step to putting your business on the right trajectory. The second step is to study what happens and then iterate. In other words, pay attention to how different parts of your strategy are working (or are not working) and then adapt. It’s through this ongoing iteration that you’ll find a system that truly works.