So you’ve got the drive to grow your business, but no money to do it. Stop with the excuses already. Put in the work to personify your brand, build a community, and barter. The choice is yours.
1. Hire the right people
Before you can even think about your company’s growth trajectory, you need to ensure that you have a solid staff that can help you achieve it.
“With a small business looking to grow, it’s important to have the right players at the table,” said April Davis, founder of online dating service Cupid’s Cronies. “They need to be people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. The words ‘That’s not my job,’ do not exist in their vocabulary. They have to be dedicated to the mission.”
“Hiring the absolute best people you can is a surefire way to ensure fast growth,” added Christian Lanng, CEO and chairman of business software provider Tradeshift. “It’s all about having the right team.”
Risk is an inevitable part of starting and growing a business. It’s impossible to control everything, but there are plenty of ways to limit internal and external threats to your company and its growth. One important resource to help you accomplish this is your business insurance provider.
“Small businesses need to manage their growth to avert disruptions that can bring business to a grinding halt,” said Mike DeHetre, vice president of product development at Travelers. For example, “the theft of employee data, customer records and product designs can destroy a small business, generating significant costs and eroding customer confidence and loyalty,” he said. “Not every business owner’s policy covers data breaches or other cyber losses. Small businesses should be prepared by seeking insurance products that help them recover, including those that cover the cost of remediation and lawsuits.”
3.Focus on established revenue sources
Rather than trying to acquire new customers, direct your attention to the core customers you already have, said Bill Reilly, a Wisconsin-based auto repair entrepreneur. You can do this by implementing a referral or customer loyalty program, or trying out marketing strategies based on previous purchase behaviors to encourage repeat business, he said.
This focus on your established market is especially important if you’re trying to get funding.
“In the past, we would highlight our business goal to become a franchise, which didn’t resonate with banks,” Reilly said. “We learned to emphasize that there is a large market for what we do. This would pique a banker’s interest because he or she cares about the return on investment more than your business aspirations.”
4. Focus on your customer experience
Customers’ perceptions of your business can really make or break a business. Deliver quality experiences and products, and they’ll quickly sing your praises on social media; mess it up, and they’ll tell the world even faster. Fast growth depends on making your current and potential customers happy with their experience, DeHetre said.
“Compared with large companies, small businesses are nimble, and often better able to see, anticipate and respond to their customers’ needs,” DeHetre said. “The most successful small businesses exploit this advantage, by bringing new and innovative products and services to market more quickly and developing and nurturing long-term customer relationships.”
5. Be adaptable
One trait that successful startups often have in common is the ability to switch directions quickly in response to changes in the market. Lanng noted that an agile approach to development, both in terms of your product and your company, will help you grow more quickly.
“By allowing yourself to adapt and change quickly, you’re able to test different approaches to business and find out what works best,” Lanng told Business News Daily. “It allows you to fail, pick yourself back up and keep going.”
In the early stages of your business, you’ll likely see a very lean profit margin (or no profit at all), so any money you do make should go directly toward helping you grow.
“A startup’s ability to invest in itself [helps] accelerate growth,” Lanng said. “In those early years, it’s critical to make sure that you’re redirecting any revenues back into the company. It’s vital to invest early and heavily in order to grow quickly.”
7. Always think ahead
While agility is an important quality for a startup, you can’t fly by the seat of your pants when you’re running a business. Planning your next step, even if that means anticipating all possible scenarios, is the best way to stay grounded and secure as your business evolves.
“Set the foundation in place, water it and watch it grow,” Davis said. “If you do the foundational work, when you experience growth, it won’t be that difficult to adjust, since the hard part is already done.”