Growing a business past a plateau is not always an easy task. Once you’ve exhausted your leads and your sales are stagnating, scaling your business is the next logical step.
In order to scale, you are growing your business but without doubling your budget. Here are five key ways to scale your small business.
1. Think big
A whopping 90% of startups fail. That means that only 10% of business ideas from entrepreneurs actually gain traction and make money. Failure is always par for the course when you take a risk but enterprising people make the best from it, by learning what they did wrong and not repeating those mistakes in their next venture. The fastest way to success is to fail often and you do this by thinking big. What do you want from your business and where do you want it to go? Rather than thinking in micro-steps, think about the macro. Set goals for one year, five years and even ten years. If you are only focusing on what you can do today, you’ll never get to tomorrow. By taking big risks, you are set to have big gains.
That said, don’t risk your entire business on one growth plan. Scaling your business means continuing to do what you do well, but also taking risks to increase that success in new and different ways. This is where you need to think large. If the data is telling you that your plan isn’t working, find a way to change course or jump ship and move on to the next dream.
2. Learn to say no
Like many entrepreneurs, your great ideas are probably consuming your waking and sleeping hours. You most likely can’t have a shower without thinking about a product modification or a new way of running your business. Your great ideas are what got your startup off the ground and they may also be the way you are going to get your business to scale. But, in the words of Steve Jobs, focus is “saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are”.
Think of a white board, filled with scribbles of ideas, connecting to one another. In the frenzied madness of idea creation, not all of your ideas will be good enough to come to fruition. Learn what to say no to so you don’t invest your business capital haphazardly. By saying no to key ideas that seem amazing, you are leaving room for even better ideas to make waves in your business. The best restaurants have very small menus, because the few things they do, they do incredibly well. Your business should follow this line of thinking, so you shouldn’t just dive into every project that seems appealing.
3. Let your customers do the talking
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Your ideas, your products, and even your beautifully-designed website mean nothing if you don’t have customers. Your startup may already have a great customer base, but how do you keep them loyal to your brand? Too many companies focus their time and effort on customer acquisition, when in actual fact, it costs 7x the amount of capital to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one.
The most ideal way for you to keep your customers is to find out what they want and give it to them. It really is that simple. Get your customer’s feedback on
- what products they’d like to see sold in your store
- what frustrates them about your product or user experience
- what’s stopping them from buying more
- what value you can truly give them and aren’t currently doing so
Getting customer feedback is very simple. Create a customer feedback survey and send it to your email list, or ask your customers to complete the survey after a purchase on your site. The goal is to keep it short and valuable for the customer, so they want to provide their feedback. Offer an incentive to complete the survey, like a discount off a future purchase, which inevitably is also a great sales tactic. Use your social media channels to ask your customers what they think about your brand. If these methods don’t prove fruitful for you, check your site’s analytics for more information about how long customers stay on which pages and where they stop themselves before purchasing.
4. Gather some data
Your site analytics are a great way to find out about your customer and lead behavior, but by having a goal in mind for your data, you’ll find that you can increase the results you get. For example, by taking a look at what links your leads are clicking on to get to your site, you can increase your effort on creating similar links for them to click on. If guest posting is getting customers to your site, do more of that. If your blog posts are giving your customers enough value that they decide to spend more, increase the amount of valuable blog content on your site. One of the best ways to scale your business is to find out what you are doing well and do it exponentially.
5. Become an authority
As a startup, you may not believe you are a leader in your industry. That assumption is undoubtedly false, because if you have already started seeing success, you definitely have knowledge to be shared. By becoming a thought leader or an authority in your industry, you’ll gain the trust of your customers and provide them more value than just selling them a product.
The best way to do this is to get published and often. Start small with your blog, espousing thought leadership content that relates to your products and services. Then, get the word out by engaging in guest posting and seeking publication on larger and more authoritative sources. Your content does need to be innovative and give audiences something different from what they’ve already read 1,000 times over. You can do this by being controversial, taking a different tone or stance from what’s generally seen as acceptable and adding actionable ideas.
Scaling your business by using your existing resources, like your thought knowledge, your customer base and your existing data is the best way to grow without an increased spend. Don’t underestimate what you already have in place for your business to help you grow and scale.