If you are a small business owner, you know the importance of growing your business. You also know that the responsibility falls on you and it can be a heavy burden. You’re so preoccupied with operating your business and serving your clients, you don’t have the time to work on your business. You’re spending all your time working in your business and none of your time working on your business.
This article highlights 10 activities that will spur growth in your business. The good news is that many of these recommendations are inexpensive and just require your time, hard work, and determination.
#1: Aggressively & Strategically Post to Social Media
Regardless of your industry, social media is an effective and necessary promotional channel for your business. Over 65% of all adult internet users in the U.S. are using social media and you need to be part of their conversation. With social media, we recommend starting with 1-2 platforms and managing them well, and then adding to your social mix when you have the resources.
There may be some social channels that are specific to your industry and it’s always good to consider those to reach any niche markets. But don’t overlook the big guys, such as Facebook. They are still very relevant; in fact, Facebook use accounts for nearly 16% of all time spent on the internet.
Once you’ve chosen your platforms, you need to determine your strategy:
- What will you post about?
- Who will you target?
- How will you capture their interest?
Once this is determined, it’s time to start aggressively posting, at least once a day.
#2: Create A Monthly Budget for Pay Per Click Advertising
One of the most cost efficient and highest-yielding forms of advertising is Pay Per Click (PPC). It works exactly like it sounds – you create an ad, place it in front of your demographic, and you pay when someone clicks your ad. The two most popular channels for PPC advertising are Google AdWords and social media advertising. Both channels offer great reporting that allows you to track how engaged your audience is. You’ll want to get familiar with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, among others.
PPC advertising is highly targeted and allows you to place your ads in front of people based on what they searched, where they live, what their interests are, and much more. It’s also very flexible and offers a defined budget – you can set a daily spend, a per click spend, and utilize their tools to maximize click rate and price. PPC also creates instant traffic to your website and, most importantly, it’s the right traffic.
You can run a successful PPC campaign with just a few hundred dollars a month and it will be much more targeted than traditional advertising.
#3: Maximize the Use of Your Website
When done well, a website will inform leads about your services, share positive experiences from your clients, demonstrate your quality of work and expertise, and show the personality of your company. Your website should also be easy to use, which means it must be mobile-friendly, and it should work to improve your online Google ranking, which happens primarily through maintaining an active blog.
Your website should also serve as the hub for all your promotional efforts. One way to do this is by creating landing pages. These pages are hidden and can only be accessed from direct links that you share on social media or Google AdWords. Landing pages provide specific and detailed information about a promotion, have multiple call to actions, and allow you to closely track the activity on the page through contact form submissions, call tracking phone numbers, and more.
Your website is the front door to your company. Even if a lead is referred to you by a trusted colleague, their first activity will be to visit your website and it should be inviting, engaging, and professional.
#4: Protect & Build Your Brand
We can’t over emphasize the importance of your company’s brand. Often, it’s easy to be so focused on serving your clients that you forget to serve yourself. It’s like the landscaper whose front yard is full of weeds, the plumber who has leaky pipes at the office, or the hair dresser with split ends and 3-inch roots. While growing your business, and fighting hard to gain new clients, don’t forget to protect your brand.
This means your messaging should be consistent, your marketing material professional and innovative, and your value propositions consistently displayed. It’s a good practice to evaluate your brand once a year and make an honest assessment on how everything looks and whether you have everything you need to properly promote your business … and it’s never a bad idea to get an outside opinion or two.
#5: Build a Team of Trusted Advisors
Business owners are highly driven people who are accustomed to hard work. These same people tend to believe they can do it all themselves and trust in their own abilities more than they should. They aren’t always good at delegating or taking advice. When you’re starting out, you are often operating on small budgets which requires you to do everything yourself.
We strongly recommend that you build a team of trusted advisors who will balance out for your weaknesses and keep you focused on your strengths. The three areas that should be outsourced as quickly as possible are legal, financial, and marketing.
- When you’re setting up your business and establishing your contracts, spend the extra money to hire a skilled business attorney.
- When it’s time to begin invoicing, invest in a good program like Quickbooks, and delegate your recordings and tax filings to a CPA – they will pay for themselves by finding mistakes that you didn’t know existed.
- When your business is off the ground, find a marketing company who can help you establish your brand, setup a good website and social platforms, and offer guidance on your target market and advertising budget.
Outsourcing these areas will allow you to focus on growing your business through providing excellent service and will broaden your team. Spending too much time in areas that don’t play to your core strengths will sidetrack you and take your attention away from what’s most important.
#6: Connect With Other Small Business Owners
Another important way to extend your team is to connect with other small business owners. Business owners and entrepreneurs are a rare breed and it’s helpful to be around like-minded people who can offer encouragement, accountability, and wisdom. You’ll find just as much value in meeting with people within your industry as with people outside of your industry. It’s always helpful to bounce ideas off someone who can relate to your day-to-day and it’s very likely that they have encountered a similar issue.
Whether it’s discussion about HR problems, cash flow management, growth strategies, or looking for personal connections to leads, having a group of people that you meet with monthly can extend your team, especially if you don’t have a business partner or trusted team member internally. It’s honestly as simple as identifying 2-3 people, putting a monthly breakfast on your calendar, and never missing it.
#7: Invest in Your Local Community
Your local community supports your business and it’s important to give back. Investing and serving the community should be done from a spirit of service and not for networking. Quite simply, it’s just the right thing to do. You have a special skillset and the best way to improve your community is to share it. Having a vibrant community will positively impact your business.
Joining the local chamber, serving on non-profit boards, and donating your time, services, and financial resources are great ways to give back.
#8: Become a Local Expert & Trusted Voice Through Speaking Engagements & Featured Writing
As a business owner, you can command an audience through speaking and writing intelligently about your specific area of expertise. As you evaluate your business and services, take a minute to think about the different areas that you can become a local expert in. Look around at your competition and see if anyone else is communicating about them.
The simplest place to begin is on your personal platforms. Begin posting weekly blog articles on your website and sharing them on social media. Or buy a cheap video camera and tripod and begin recording tutorial videos to share on YouTube. Once you begin to develop a following, it will lead to other opportunities to write and speak more publicly.
#9: Read Often
To intelligently outsource, you need to have a good knowledge of the topic so that you can ask the right questions and understand the data. Your understanding of legal issues, financial options, and marketing trends is deepened by what you choose to read and the questions you choose to ask. Good focuses include books and resources on leadership, marketing, anything written by CEOs of major corporations, industry magazines and blogs, and videos on Lynda.com and TED.com.
#10: Nominate Your Business & Your Work for Awards
Getting your business name out in the community can offer a nice boost in awareness and revenue. One of the best pieces of information to share is a recent award or press coverage of your work. This may not be the determining factor in someone deciding to use you but it certainly adds to your credibility and your perceived level of experience. It’s another form of testimonial.
There are awards for every industry, both locally and nationally, and many of them are inexpensive to enter. Early on you may have to nominate yourself, but don’t let that deter you!
Each of these recommendations will place you on the right path. If you need any help along the way, we would love to speak with you. Shoot us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck!