There’s a lot of unpredictability that comes with running a business—and scaling a business is no different. While there are specific steps you can take to better position your business for sustainable growth (e.g., tracking performance analytics or diversifying revenue streams), it’s not uncommon to see growth stall from time to time.
If you’re struggling to get your business over the hump, here are a few common culprits that might be getting in the way of your business growth.
You don’t have a strong (or any) online presence.
Data shows that over 35% of small businesses don’t have a website and that the same percentage of business owners feel their business is too small to have a site at all. However, the reality is that businesses of all sizes benefit from having a solid web presence and that a robust and well-optimized website could be the secret to scaling. A website functions almost like a resume for a business, allowing you to showcase everything your business has to offer, from your suite of products and services to past work and projects to testimonials highlighting positive reviews of your business. A properly-optimized website also increases discoverability and helps you grow your customer base organically.
Beyond lead acquisition and building credibility and trust, a website also helps you better serve existing customers, such as by providing online support or answering common questions. This can contribute to stronger loyalty, repeat business, and referrals — all of which contribute to growth in the long run.
You’re not nurturing existing customers.
Often, business owners equate growth with a growing customer base. While this may be true to an extent, this mentality poses the risk of focusing too much on acquiring new customers that you neglect your existing ones. But pivoting your focus to customer retention through lead nurturing can prove significantly more impactful than putting all your eggs in the lead acquisition basket. Research has found that acquiring new customers is 5–25x more expensive than retaining existing ones and that boosting retention rates by as little as 5% can lead to a 25–95% spike in profit.
Rather than making acquisition your primary goal, invest time and money into nurturing leads on your owned channels, like social media, email, and your company blog.
You’re not translating business data into actionable insights.
Knowledge is power, and knowing your way around the analytics behind your business is a crucial component of making insightful and strategic business decisions that tie into your growth goals. Unfortunately, knowing the importance of data and putting time into reporting doesn’t always mean that you’re putting business data to good use. On average, 60–73% of enterprise data goes unused, the reason for which is largely a lack of understanding around how to read and interpret that data.
Learning how to recognize patterns, flag anomalies, or read the numbers within your data is critical to using this wealth of information strategically to level up your business. For example, if you run an e-commerce business and notice in your Google Analytics dashboard that over 50% of your website visitors come through mobile, that might signify an opportunity to increase conversions by optimizing your mobile site. Another example might be that you run a construction business and can use financial data to calculate margins for each bid to assess which jobs are worth pursuing to achieve maximum profitability.
You’re not paying attention to your competitors.
Spending too much time comparing your business to competitors can be a detriment to your growth — but avoiding comparison altogether can be just as problematic. To sell your product or service to prospective customers, you need to have a clear idea of your key differentiator and value proposition. However, it’s hard to properly convey what you bring to the table if you don’t know what your business’s competitive advantages are.
Taking a close look at direct competitors allows you to understand how your business is positioned in the market and what elements of your business make you stand out from the competition. It can also help you identify opportunities to carve out those differentiators if you find that your business may not be able to compete with competitors as it currently operates.
For example, suppose you run an accounting firm and, upon doing your competitive research, identify several general accounting firms in your area catering to your target customers. In that case, you might consider specializing in accounting for a key industry in your local market. Marketing your firm with a unique industry focus may seem counterintuitive at first since you’ll be narrowing down your scope of potential customers. Still, the reality is that over 60% of businesses prefer to work with specialized accountants. For that reason, you might find that your overall business actually benefits from the more targeted positioning.
You and your team are overextended.
If your business was steadily expanding for some time before suddenly stopping in its tracks, the culprit might be your team’s inability to keep up with the growth. As your business scales, it’s only natural that your team will need to scale with it. For example, if your customer base has doubled over the past year, but your customer support team has remained the same, it might be challenging for your employees to keep up with the natural increase in support tickets and help requests.
This issue might also be more channel-specific. For example, perhaps you didn’t have a social media manager in the past because you were prioritizing other channels, but now you’ve hit a wall after exhausting those avenues. As a result, you’re looking to diversify customer acquisition channels. At this point, it makes sense to bring on an expert to be fully dedicated to creating a social media strategy that will get the ball rolling again on your growth goals.
As you grow and expand your business, it’s important to recognize areas where your team will need to grow with you. This might mean bringing on new hires to divide up existing tasks, building out new departments and teams to develop new functions, or even enlisting the help of a specialized agency to take some tasks off your team’s plate.