Evolving a start-up into a successful business requires hard work and the strength to overcome mistakes. Growth happens by making the right decisions, scale becomes possible by learning from the wrong ones. Growing an established business presents a different set of challenges. If you’re trying to bring your business to that ‘next level,’ there are plenty of actions you can take to set yourself up for success.
What qualifies as an established business?
A small business is considered “established” when its annual revenue hits the milestone of $100,000 per year. It could be a short stop on the road to further business growth or it can be a plateau where your growth stalls. This is the time in your business’ lifecycle when new strategies need to be blended with the keys to your previous success.
Growing vs. scaling your small business
Business growth means increasing revenue with more resources. Scaling your business means increasing revenue with the same resources. That’s an important distinction because scale directly affects business profit margins. Growth can increase revenue, but that doesn’t make a company more efficient. Scale is all about doing more with less.
8 business growth strategies to consider
The following list focuses on both growth and scale. These suggestions can make a small business more efficient while accelerating the growth process. Established businesses need to keep that concept at the core of their sales and marketing actions. Think of it as growth with intent. The goal is to expand margins as your company increases revenue.
1. Conduct market research
Too many businesses waste millions of dollars every year by marketing to consumers outside their ideal customer demographics. This can be due to insufficient market research. Knowing who your target customers are can make marketing more efficient. Perform competitive research to help set price points and develop marketing campaigns that have a better chance of success of landing.
2. Focus on customer retention
It costs more to acquire new customers than it does to maintain your existing ones. Established companies should put extra effort into retaining current customers. Some retention strategies include incentive programs, loyalty marketing, and an emphasis on excellent customer service. Repeat customer revenue is higher-margin income because your marketing costs to those customers are lower. That’s growth and scale.
3. Pursue strategic partnerships
Establish relationships with vendors that help distribute, promote, or elevate your product or service. Hitting on the right strategic partnerships can increase your revenue with very little cost to your company. For best results, find partners who offer complimentary products or services that you can market to your customers. Mutually beneficial relationships are more profitable.
4. Expand your product or service offering
Bundling popular products with newer ones is a good way to ‘test market’ a recently developed product line. You can limit the scale of your campaign and get a good idea of customer demand. For best results, identify areas that are underserved with your current customers and test launch something that fills that need. Diverse product and service lines can strengthen your brand.
5. Boost your marketing efforts
Boosting your marketing efforts doesn’t mean simply spending more money. It’s okay to explore different channels to reach a new audience, but that audience should have a need or at least a desire for the products and services you offer. Do some market research on the channel and set up a cost-controlled test campaign. Boost it if it produces good results.
6. Use analytics to make decisions
Anecdotal evidence is not a legitimate metric to make business decisions. Analytics provide real data that can be analyzed and measured. Examples of this are website visits, conversions, and sales volume for specific products and services. Going on gut instinct or listening to unsubstantiated rumors are paths to failure. Focus on the analytics instead.
7. Hire for culture add
Diversity on your team is just as important as diversity in your product line. Having different voices in meetings can help change the culture of your company for the better. Hard and soft skills are important, but don’t fall into the trap of only hiring a certain type of employee. That leads to stagnation and complacency. A healthy work environment starts with the freedom to share ideas and the willingness to listen to new ones.
8. Apply for a business line of credit
A business line of credit is flexible, reusable, and ideal for established businesses looking to get to the next level. It’s a great way to increase cash flow to cover payroll and other expenses while your company is in growth mode. Figure out how much you’ll need, create a budget for the funds, and apply for a business line of credit. Use it wisely and it could give you the boost you need to grow or scale with confidence.