Five Ways to Grow Your Business

By on September 25, 2014

Every small business starts with an ambitious idea. In a report from Circle Research, it revealed that “achieving growth” is the single biggest ambition among small and midsize businesses (SMBs). That said, less than half of all respondents plan to introduce new products and services, enter new markets, or expand their business premises.

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This got me thinking: how can SMBs fulfill their growth ambitions by making the most of w
hat they already have in their businesses? I came up with five suggestions.

1. Ask the Audience – Nobody knows what your customers want better than they do – so ask them. Crowdsourcing is a way of obtaining ideas by enlisting the services of people online. It has ’s benefited big brands like Lego, Netflix, and McDonald’s, but it can also help smaller businesses.  giffgaff, a mobile network operator in the U.K., uses its online community to answer questions from customers. Threadless, an online T-shirt retailer in Chicago, gets new design ideas from its customers. Lastly, GooseGrade, a free copy editing site, uses crowdsourcing to edit web copy. What can YOUR customers do for you?

2. Embrace Risk – You can’t grow by standing still. In order to move ahead, you need to adapt, evolve, and take risks. But, try not to look at these moments as obstacles; instead think of them as opportunities. Learn what works, what doesn’t, and go from there – that’s the art of innovation.

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3. Engage with Customers in Creative Ways – When it comes to connecting with customers everyone is talking about social media, including me. However, there are other ways of engaging your audience. Educational events can be a good way of meeting customers and positioning yourself as an industry expert. For example, if you make running shoes, host a fitness event on Sunday mornings. If you run a financial services company, offer free, expert advice on financial aid for parents of high school students looking to go to college. Be creative in thinking how you could bring your brand to life.

4. Partner with Other Businesses – A small business consultant needed help with her web site. She reached out to a local company that specialized in building sites for small business owners. After talking for an hour, they realized they were both targeting the same type of business owners. The first step they took was to barter their services; the web site designer learned how to run a more efficient company and the consultant received a beautiful new web site. The two companies then put together a joint proposal template that offered both services to companies at a slightly discounted rate. Six months later, both companies were thrilled with the amount of new business generated from the joint proposal.

Partnerships are a great idea IF…you spell out exactly what you want and what you are willing to do AND you find the right partner who isn’t all “take” and no “give.”

5. Automate Your Processes – How much of your time is spent on routine, administrative tasks that could be automated? If the answer is “too much,” then think about a technological solution. SAP offers software solutions designed especially for the needs – and budgets – of small and medium-sized enterprises. They can help you to automate tasks across your whole business and, in turn, increase efficiency.

No one said running and growing a business was easy. There are numerous obstacles, dead ends and detours on the road to success. It’s important to take time to make sure you are on the right path and have the resources you need to achieve your goals. My suggestion is to read the report from Circle Research to find out why ambition matters and how businesses, just like the one you run, are using it to grow their companies.

About Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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