10 Tips for Growing Your Small Business

An encouraging 59% of small business owners surveyed by the National Small Business Association’s last year indicated that they expect the U.S. economy to continue growing through this year. The NSBA’s 2017 year-end report also indicated that a high percentage of the survey respondents said they are very confident about the future of their businesses.
For a business of any size that is looking to grow, the first order of the process of building and sustaining an expanding enterprise is to lay out a clear plan that structures your growth plans. Here are some important tips to help you grow your business.

1. Improve Your Business’s Homepage.
Make sure your business website homepage looks appealing, contains all essential information to help site visitors quickly gain a clear understanding of what your business is about, and has links to internal pages that work perfectly. Also, get help with SEO, and methods for making it as easy as possible to do business with your company through your site. Make sure your homepage is:
• Uncluttered
• Easy to navigate
• Has easy-to-read conversational web copy
• Makes clear the value of your product
• Contains a Call To Action (CTA)
Use web A/B testing to track your increase in lead generation before and after you implement changes to make these improvements, and before future rounds of new site upgrades.

2. Learn to Use Analytics.
Users of so-called “big data” now constitute a massive market, predicted to exceed $200 billion annually by 2020. Using consumer data helps businesses understand market behaviors that provide insights for future planning in virtually every industry.
You do not need expensive applications and other resources to glean the data you want or to convert it to actionable information. Through your business’s website and its social platform pages, you can apply free, freemium, or some of the less expensive premium tools to acquire insights into your customers’ and business consumer prospects’ behaviors, as they pertain to your business’s service offerings.
Some examples include Google Analytics:
• Page visits
• Bounce rate
• Average time on your site
• How your visitors arrive at your site
• Unbounce tool
These data can provide insights into areas of needed marketing adjustments, and for optimizing your landing page to increase conversions.

3. Offer a Great Blog.
The majority of today’s professional marketers view blog posts as the most important of inbound marketing activities. A good blog can drive traffic to your site, and can help convert visitors to new customers. Over 80% of modern shoppers do research online before making some types of purchases.
Your blog can go far in creating an impressive online presence for your business and for establishing you as an authority in your field. By making your content evergreen (of lasting relevance to readers), your blog will need updating only periodically, which brings you a strong value for your investment in the blog. In your blog, include:
• Links to individual blog posts
• Helpful information about your company
• Pictures relevant to the posts’ content
• Interactivity with customers (Respond to their posted questions.)
Over 90% of consumers take the recommendations of friends and family members. If a customer “likes” your company or makes a positive comment about it, that entry attracts attention of other members of their social network, causing a positive word-of-mouth effect that can be a significant contributor to the growth of your business.

4. Invest in Systems.
Attempting to do it all on your own can be a very self-limiting approach. In order to successfully manage growth, you need operational, including tech, systems that can accommodate the array of performance demands that naturally come along with expansion.
In addition to having a modern CRM system, you may need standard e-commerce software, and you certainly need a user-friendly UI for your electronic data systems.
You will need accounting software that makes sense for higher volume receivables, payables, payroll, monthly reports, metrics tracking and financials processing. Rules of thumb: automate as much as possible, and outsource as necessary.

5. Always Have a “Plan B”.
Be prepared to pivot rapidly, as necessary. For small businesses with only one or several people doing the work, you especially need to think ahead to those inevitable times when things don’t go as planned. As the business continues to grow and operations become increasingly complex, it becomes more difficult to adjust to surprises quickly. So, develop a habit of adjusting your plan for handling emergencies and contingencies, in order to be best prepared for the unexpected.

6. Take Calculated Risks.
Of course, small business expansion comes with inherent risks. It is natural to hesitate to step outside one’s comfort zone, but it is sometimes necessary to shake things up to make the decision that is best for yourself and your business.
This is not to suggest that you close your eyes and lunge forward hoping for good luck alone to carry you to success. But, by keeping a clear focus on your goal, actively identifying possible obstacles, assessing the risk level, and making a practical step forward, your calculated risk will feel more like an exhilarating adventure than a leap too far.
7. Learn Finance Management for Growing Businesses.
Even the world’s most successful companies must focus diligently on their bottom lines. Always maintain a cushion in your current period budget for expenses that you might not have expected or haven’t accounted for as part of your expansion.
An accumulation of little costs can upset a budget. Make sure that your planned expenditures and capital investments make the best sense for your both your growth plans for the period and your cash flow position. Rule of thumb: Always over-budget projected costs, to prevent finding yourself in a difficult cash flow situation later.

8. Use Branding Methods that Work for Small Businesses.
Small businesses struggle to maintain an image of financial viability and service reliability. In addition to strong financial management and strategic growth planning, customer relationship management (CRM) strategies need to be part of the foundation of your long-term management plan. Spreadsheets are not a sufficient tool for customer data storage. Data must be made more accessible and safer as your base of data expands.
An inexpensive, reliable, CRM system will help you provide much more efficient service for your customers and to manage your marketing initiatives. When you have only a few customers, it’s already time to start thinking like a business that has thousands. Make your processes expandable accordingly, to ensure that your service stays consistent as you experience growth of your business.
Also, develop professional bonds. Research to learn about upcoming industry events in your local area, and attend these. Attending these and becoming a familiar face will help build a profile for your organization within your market.

9. Avoiding Trendy Growth Hacking Advice.
First, avoid the temptation to measure your business’s success only in terms of your growth metric. Focus on profitability, cash flow, debt to equity ratio, customer satisfaction, and other key performance indicators (KPIs), to ensure that you do not allow your business’s reputation with vendors and lenders to be jeopardized. Protect your financial position as you manage growth, to maintain and grow your brand image as a sustainable, well-managed business.
Avoid growth hacking measures that may accelerate growth over the short-term, but that can escalate long-term costs. For example:
• Frenzied Emailing — The richest source of new email addresses is your current contacts directories. Over-exploitation of your users’ contacts can cause you to receive a high rate of negative feedback from disgruntled email recipients and from your current contacts.
• Black-Hat SEO Tactics — Professionals who were getting paid to implement ways to attempt to trick Google and other search engines have had to move on to other employment over recent years. Mainstream users have come to understand that trying to fool the search engines with various linking schemes, paid links, spam and dubious information architecture are poor approaches to attempting to gain ground in search engine rankings. At some point, you can expect to find your business being penalized—a rightly dreaded outcome.

10. Have Confidence.
A million tips for small business growth cannot replace your own instincts. Have confidence that the process of business success works and that you will succeed if you follow the basics of identifying a market need, providing strong customer service, communicating well with customers and employees, and obey rules of prudent small business finance management.
Be flexible in embracing viable opportunities that come your way, though not included in your growth plans. If you’re prepared for growth with your strategic plans, have scalable systems in place, and a healthy profit margin and cash flow, you’ve put your business in a position to that frees you to take a calculated risk in in a way that you know makes sense and that you can feel excited about.
Onward!
Growth is still naturally scary. It can feel safer and more practical just to stick with your current level of operations and avoid taking any risk. But, if you’ve laid a solid foundation for success, you’re ready! Go ahead! Take it to the next level!

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