Top 10 Growth Tips for Small Business

Small business owners are not alone in their quests for success. More than 1,000 SBDCs across the country are proud to fuel small business growth every day through our partnerships and one-on-one relationships. In honor of the economic development and good jobs small businesses create, we are sharing our top 10 growth tips for small businesses.

 1. Do a SWOT analysis

No matter what industry you’re in, and no matter what part of a business lifecycle, an up-to-date SWOT analysis is an excellent way to identify targeted areas where your efforts will yield the highest growth. “You don’t do those once and then throw them in the corner,” said RISBDC business counselor Amit Basnet. “It’s a work in progress. Your customer need always changes. Your supply chain management, your managers, those are moving parts. So if you don’t adapt to those changing needs, then you tend to lose sight of the new paradigm shift.” Aim to complete a SWOT at least once a year, or more often if you have a good reason.

2. Align four critical areas: Strategy, Structure, People, and Process

Having specific, measurable goals and tactics in these four key areas for increasing sales revenue is a necessary foundation for maximizing revenue. Start with a clear strategy that aligns with your goals, implement a structure that best supports your strategy, make sure you have the right people in the right roles, then ruthlessly audit and streamline your processes until you’ve trimmed all the fat.

3. Rethink your business model

There are very different ways to create, deliver, and capture value from the same products and services. If your business model is obsolete, you can drive growth by switching up how you do business. A classic example is Blockbuster, which allowed their business to be disrupted by two new models — Netflix and Redbox — that met customer’s evolving needs by delivering the same product in a more streamlined and convenient fashion. If sales are flagging, consider whether a new streamlined, scalable model would drive growth by better serving your existing customers and attracting new ones.

4. The 80/20 rule

80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. Focus on the customers you’ve already got, who have the most value. Unless your business model requires constantly finding new customers (which is expensive and time-consuming), pinpoint ways to create more value from the ones already at your doorstep. Additional products and services? Upselling? Easing their ordering process (think Amazon Dash)?

 5. Get feedback

Not sure of the best ways to get more value from your current customers? Ask them. Listen closely to their needs, and to their ideas about how you provide value to them and how you could improve. And don’t stop there. Innovate your business model by asking for and implementing employee suggestions. The people who know your business best, who make it run every day — and who have an investment in its success — are likely to have some good ideas about how to prune your processes to produce growth.

6. Employee appreciation

From a human perspective, recognize the value of your team and build them up as people just as much as you build them as employees. If people feel appreciated and satisfied at work, and if they feel they are working toward shared goals, they often will go above and beyond what is asked of them. Not only does it make work life much more pleasant, but an employee who feels valued is much more likely to be motivated to produce results that are reflected in your business’s bottom line.

7. Create a solid organizational chart

Without a defined role, your employees will be wasting time duplicating efforts, stepping on toes, and plugging holes. Clear, comprehensive job descriptions both clarify responsibilities and allow for accurate measurement of performance. Your business will be more efficient at both allowing good employees to do good work, and weeding out the bad ones.

8. Growth Hacking

If online sales leads feed your bottom line, consult with a digital marketing specialist or hire one onto your team. Have them create a strategic inbound marketing program that converts online customers from casual browsers to loyal buyers. A good inbound marketing program will be continually tested and perfected, optimizing messaging, buttons, layout, and more.

 9. Branding and marketing

No matter how good your product or service, if your brand isn’t solid and your marketing strategy is MIA, then no one will know. Form a strategic marketing plan with a dedicated budget to target your ideal customers. Make sure your brand identity is clear, and represented by the public face of your business at every step. A little attention to the PR side of your small business could reap big rewards on the revenue front. Consider this one area you’ll need to spend money to make money.

 10. Benchmark your operating expenses

When was the last time that you checked to see whether your expenses were in line with national and regional averages for your competition? If you’re paying more for day-to-day operations than you need to be, your profits are hurting. Boost growth by bringing expenses into line.

Does your business need a boost? Let us find areas for growth through our one-on-one, individualized, no-cost business counseling. It’s what we do! Schedule an appointment today and let us help you take your business to the next level.