Growing a business is not something that happens overnight. It is a process that can take months and even years to accomplish. There are many strategies that detail how you can take your small business to new heights. Defining growth differs from business to business. Generally, it means getting your business from where it currently is to where you want it be in the future. Growing your small business could mean an increase in brand awareness, brand loyalty and a healthy spike in revenue.
A lot can be done – physically and mentally – to aid in the growth of your business. However, it is important to understand the following pointers, which will be further expanded on, in order to help you take charge of growth opportunities to sustainably grow your small business:
- There is more than one right move when attempting to take your small business to your desired level of growth.
- Rome was not built in a day! The efforts you dedicate to your business today may only pay off months and even years later. Patience is a key element when growing a small business.
- No business can survive without customers. Knowing and understanding who they are and what they need is a useful growth strategy with ample growth opportunities waiting to be seized.
- As a small business owner, it is imperative to tap into ways that will be advantageous to your business when it comes to competing with competitors of all sizes in the market you aim to successfully establish your business in.
There Is More Than One Right Move
There is a whole sea of growth strategies available detailing how you can grow your small business. It is a mistake to think that there is only one right path to growing your business as there are many proven ways to achieve this. This way of thinking can lead to you missing out on many growth opportunities around you. For instance, it may happen that at the start your business you are a one-person show. It may be that you wear the designer, the marketer and accountant hats. Breaking your bigger tasks into smaller tasks may help you feel a little less overwhelmed with all the work you have to get done. Working with a schedule, managing your time well and learning about your field of business may all seem irrelevant to growing your business. However, these are strategies that can aid in the growth of your small business in the long run.
Your Efforts Today Might Only Bear Fruits Years Later
As mentioned earlier, growing your small business will not happen overnight. What seems like over-night success on the outside for most businesses, is actually years of hard work finally paying off.
In 2019, Amazon was listed as one of the fasted growing companies in the world. It ranked at number 11 on Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list. Jeff Bezos, the founder, stated that when the company experiences a good financial quarter, it is the result of work done three years prior. He advices businesses to think and plan for the long-term. This way, you know where to invest your energy. This is advice coming from one of the richest men in the world who managed to turn his business into the biggest ecommerce platform that we have today.
Modern Centric Holdings, an SME in South Africa that focuses on successfully integrating those with disabilities into the workplace, was established in 2013. It only became fully operational in 2018, after years of hard work. It was only in 2021 that its owner, Zakhele Mgobhozi, received an award for all the years of his hard work at the 20th Annual Top Empowerment Awards. Modern Centric Holdings’ ‘over-night success’ is more than 8 years of work in the pipeline. This proves that your works at the start of your business may only bear fruits years later.
Understand Your Customer
Knowing and understanding your customer base is crucial to the long-term success of your business. There could be many growth opportunities coming out of knowing who it is you are catering to. Knowing your customers goes beyond simply knowing their names and ages. Being informed about their hobbies and how they would like to be treated can help you in enhancing how you serve each and every one of your businesses’ supporters. There are many ways of getting to know your customers.
Use Social Media
You can get to know your customers through communication channels such as Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter. You can utilize these platforms to directly communicate with your customers and audience to create more personal relationships with them. Ask them questions and actively use their answers and feedback to cater to them. Pride yourself on responding to both the positive and the negative reviews that your business may pull in. This will show your customers how committed you are to serving them correctly. It will humanize the name of your business thus creating brand loyalty for your business. It will also provide you with more information about who your customers are.
Create a Customer Profile
Having a customer profile that lays out who exactly you are trying to serve not only aids in knowing who your customer is but also serves as a guide to knowing their needs. To create the ideal customer profile, take your best and worst customers and note down what made you choose them as the best and worst. Note what it is these customers have in common. From here, find ways to upgrade your offering to them.
Through your communicating with your customers, you can learn how to meet and even exceed their expectations which gives you a great chance at retaining your already existing customer base and gaining new ones through referrals from your happy clients. Just like growing your business, knowing your customers is a process that could take years to master. However, leveraging this information will help you broaden your customer reach, thus elevating your small business. Your customers are the lifeline of your business. It is thus crucial to keep yourself informed about them.
Market Penetration: Take Up Space
Market penetration has two faces depending on how you look at it. On the one hand it refers to how much a product or service is sold in comparison to the total size of the market for that particular product or service. On the other hand, as an activity, it refers to entering an already existing market with an already existing product and competing in this already existing space. The only difference is that your product or service takes up space, meaning that you seize your competitors market share. The challenge would be to find ways to thrive in an already competitive market. As difficult as this might seem, it is completely achievable. It could be done through strategic pricing, enhanced customer care and a presence in community outreach.
MTN: The big games
Take the big mobile network companies in South Africa as an example. Vodacom, MTN, CellC and Telkom are in the same market space. However, in 2019 Business Tech reported that MTN generates more money per paying customer despite having a lower subscriber base than Vodacom, it’s primary competitor.
There are many cited reasons to MTN’s success. MTN claims that part of its success come from their corporate social responsibility strategy. The company says that it “can only flourish when the communities and ecosystems in which it operates are healthy.”
You can penetrate your market through strategic pricing. Slightly lowering your prices – where possible – when entering the market gives your small business a competitive edge. This strategy is most likely to work in markets where the consumers are price sensitive. To avoid consumers doubting your products or services due to your lowered prices, ensure that you provide top tier service to keep their concerns over quality at ease.
Bathu: a one-of-a-kind African sneaker brand strategy
Bathu, the South African sneaker company, penetrated the already existing sneaker market through its identity of being a one-of-a-kind African sneaker brand. With that being said, it is possible to penetrate existing markets with new products or services. Scout the markets and identify that which is missing. Find ways to fill these gaps, thus making your small business eligible to competing with even the biggest businesses in the market you are entering, just like Bathu did when it was still a startup in 2015.
As a business owner, the process of growing your business may be one of the biggest challenges you go through. In the same breath, it is a process that comes with many crucial learning opportunities that will guide you along the path to achieving your desired growth. Understanding the importance of seeking growth opportunities in more corners than one, exploring ways to impress your customers and finding strategic ways to compete in the business landscape are strategies that carry opportunities that small businesses can grab to successfully climb the growth scale.
Growing your small business may be difficult and at times uncomfortable, however as the popular saying goes; growth and comfort cannot exist in the same space. Keep your eyes open for growth opportunities and do not give up on your small business that could potentially grow to become a successful enterprise in years to come.