Except for the occasional overnight successes you read about, most of us grow our businesses slowly by careful decision-making, sticking to budgets and doing due diligence. It could take a few months to a few years to get to the point when you can see positive growth, but in any situation it’s always helpful to learn from those who’ve gone before you, like the folks at your local SCORE.
In the meantime, here are a few things about business growth I’ve learned along the way:
1. Where you can cut and where you need to spend: For my business, we decided to go virtual and save on office costs. Not being in an office together is not ideal, in my view, but it works and has definitely helped our business grow by lowering operating costs. Where we need to spend is travel for face-to-face meetings. For my business, it’s all about the personal touch, so it’s important to have the capital to make travel arrangements when necessary. You are the best judge on where your business can save money so you can spend it in the right places, such as marketing, hiring help or buying more inventory.
2. Assume no one is looking for you. What I mean by that is you’ll need to work hard every day to get the word out to the world that you are open for business and why they should buy from you. Try means possible. My business uses social media, trade shows, SEO, personal appearances, referral strategy, e-newsletters, social network advertising, relationship marketing…I could go on. The point is, in the beginning you need to try it all. Once you’re in the groove you can check your analytics and narrow down your efforts to what works best.
3. You can say no. It took me a few years after startup to feel comfortable enough in our success to turn down clients. When you’re starting a new business, you’re always afraid clientele may dry up so you tend to take everything you can get. Unfortunately, this strategy may lead to a bunch of work that’s not worth your time or effort. Losing money because you didn’t value and price your product or service high enough is a quick road to burnout. Before jumping into any business relationship, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. You may end up taking a low-paying client because the connection is so valuable, but at least you won’t be spinning your wheels.