Whether you are just starting out with your business or you have been in business for a while but you have hit a plateau, a successful business growth strategy will enable you to take what you are doing to the next level. You want to make sure you grow, but you also want to make sure that you don’t lose yourself in the process.
Here are seven factors for you to consider as you prepare for a growth strategy, whether as a solopreneur or a business.
#1: Brand Development
We can talk about your business brand, and we can talk about your personal brand. Either way, as an entrepreneur your business brand is rooted in your personal brand. You will make decisions based on your own brand story.
Identify who you are as a professional or as an organization, figure out who your audience is, and find out what makes you stand out and tell your brand story.
For more information on crafting your brand story, check out How to Tell Your Brand Story.
If a tree falls in the forest with no one around, does it make any noise?
The same question can be asked about your business. Just because you say you exist doesn’t mean people know about you. You have to make yourself visible and accessible to your target audience. While there are many ways for you to make an impact, one of the easiest ways to be accessible to your audience is to have a website. How are they going to buy into what you are selling if they can’t find you? 41% of businesses don’t think they even need to have website, yet, The average person spends over 6 hours online. That’s a whole lot of potential customers untapped!
Beyond digital, your communications should be efficient as well. Try to aim for a turnaround time under 24 hours, otherwise you know that email will just fall to the bottom of the to-do list into email purgatory, never to be heard from again.
Get to know what your target audience wants and focus on those channels. Your audience and existing customer base are always a good place to start.
#3: Identify Your Goals & Challenges
To get anywhere, you have to know where you are going. Set 3 – 5 measurable goals for your business. For example, to say you want to build more brand awareness is great, but how are you measuring that? Instead, say you want to talk to X number of people each week about your business.
If you are having trouble setting your goals, it’s good to take a step back and figure out why you started your business in the first place. That will drive your goal setting and your growth strategy.
Once you have identified your goals, think about possible challenges that might come up to slow your planned growth. It’s not catastrophizing if you are planning. Better to figure out contingencies ahead of time rather than slow yourself down if something comes up.
You don’t need to go crazy and do a multi-page business plan (unless you are looking for certain financing opportunities!), but you do need to figure out how you will reach your goals (aka how are you getting from point A to point B). This means prioritizing your goals and setting them out on a timeline where you can map out your major milestones. The key here is that you don’t have to do everything at once! Sometimes it works to start out with your lower risk or easier to achieve goals to build up to your bigger plans, but everyone is different! You have to figure out what is best for your business.
Make sure you schedule time for marketing, new business development and strategic tactics as well. Think realistically about those timelines and how they fit within your overall business goals.
#5: Get social
In order to build awareness and grow your brand, you need to consider building your social media strategy. It’s important to think of your social channels as multiple opportunities to share content. And while you want to always be putting out great content, the goal is to BE SOCIAL. If you are just constantly talking about yourself, no one will want to listen. Work to create dialogue through sharing and strong brand values that create discussion points.
If social media seems overwhelming, then take a step back and schedule 15 minutes every day to start out with. Perhaps choose only one or two channels to participate in as well so you aren’t stretching yourself too thin. And remember, automation can be your best friend, but you don’t want to overdo it (you’re not a robot!).
#6: Build Relationships
Great relationships provide the foundation of any successful business. You constantly need to build relationships with prospective customers, existing customers, suppliers, employees, investors, and family and friends.
Any relationship you have can lead to a referral, or it could turn into a client relationship. You always want to think about putting your best foot forward while thinking of ways that you can add value to the relationship.
#7: Have Patience
This is often the hardest thing for any business owner. Most strategies will take 3 – 6 months to start showing returns, so you have to think long term. Building a business is a commitment that you have to make before you start, otherwise, what’s the point?