Running your own business can be a very satisfying experience. You’ve set up your own company, you get to be your own boss and perhaps you’ve turned a passion or hobby into something that solves a problem and makes money for you along the way. Yes, growing and running your business can be great.
However, as you know, there are challenges associated with running your business and growing it. You will have issues that you probably didn’t have to deal with if you used to be an employee, such as recruiting staff, dealing with marketing your business, and managing cash flow.
So, we’ve put together some advice on running your own business and growing it. It will help you to keep building your company and take the steps to keep thriving in the marketplace of your choice.
How to grow your business
When it comes to growing your business, there are numerous tactics that you can put into play to keep building it. Here are a few of them.
Grow your customer base
As you look to grow your business, you’ll need to focus on growing your customer base too. It takes time to start building your customer base and as it increases, it takes more time to appeal to the needs of your new customers while seeking more.
When growing your customer base, take the time to keep communicating with them. Providing offers and information at the right times will help your customers to stay engaged with what your business has to offer.
Make sure you offer extra value – and great customer service – and your customers will keep coming back for more. What’s more, they will let their friends know about you too, which could mean more new customers due to word of mouth.
And ask for their feedback too – customers can see the parts of your business that you might not be able to see and their responses will help you to keep improving.
One way to grow your business is to consider exporting. Selling to international markets can open your business up on a global scale and really put you on the map. Trading your goods and services internationally can provide huge benefits for your business.
Open another shop
If your business has one physical location, you could increase your market share by opening another shop and replicating your business model. Do your research so you open your new shop in the right location. Determine who fits your target market and where they frequent – by getting this right, you’ll increase your chances of succeeding.
Technology for growth
As your business grows, it will be harder and somewhat counterproductive to rely on your trusty notepad and pen to keep up with your admin. The same goes for using spreadsheets for your accounts. Technology can help you to keep on top of your admin, as can automation tools, meaning you have more time to spend on growing your business. Here are some things you can try.
Bryan Collins was running his blogging and self-publishing business using spreadsheets to keep on top of his income and expenses but he was spending a lot of time at the end of each month to get everything done.
However, after turning to accounting software to process his accounts, it only took him a matter of hours instead. It’s worth following his lead if you want to get your weekends back and have the time to grow your business.
So, invest in accounting software to manage your financial admin. Use it to keep up with those real-time situations that your business is facing. It will help you to keep on top of unpaid invoices and any cash flow problems that arise. And as your business grows and those financials get more complex, you’ll know you have the software to help you keep on top of the numbers.
As your business grows, you’ll likely have a number of employees working for you. They might be in the same office or they could be working in different locations. To make sure everyone is on the same page with documents and data, it’s worth investing in cloud computing.
Having your employees share documents via email can be inefficient as it can lead to the wrong versions being sent round, leading to time being wasted. By moving to the cloud, you could combat that.
Another good reason for using cloud computing is so your employees can opt for flexible working if they need to. Perhaps they need to work from home or can’t get into the office due to a train strike. Hey, if you wanted to, you could even work from the beach!
If your growing business means you have employees, or you’re close to the stage where you will have a team working for you, then you’ll need to deal with payroll. Making sure your employees get paid on time is one way to increase your chances of having a happy workforce.
By using payroll software, you will be able to pay your employees accurately, while reducing the time it takes to get your payroll admin done. And by using a software solution that is HMRC recognised, you’ll know you don’t have to worry about the taxman for your payroll affairs.
As your business grows, you might find your business coming face to face with the likes of the Internet of Things, big data and advanced analytics, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. If it does, your business will be dealing with Industry 4.0.
These major innovations in technology are coming into maturity at the same time and they could play an important role in how your business grows. For example, you will probably find that as your business gets more complex, there is more data to process.
Analysing data in the right way will be beneficial for your business and how it operates, from product development all the way through to manufacturing and marketing. It’s worth keeping on top of Industry 4.0 as your business grows and understanding how it can help as you run your firm.
Planning for growth
It pays to make the most of your business plan when growing your business. By using the living document, you will be able to plan what steps your business will take to grow.
Identifying growth opportunities
When seeking to grow your business, you’ll be looking to find a series of growth opportunities that will allow you to make that happen. Coming up with new ideas and executing them will keep you on top of the game and ahead of the competition.
By using your business insights to identify issues that your customers are facing, you can help them solve new problems.
Another option is to use market research to see what your competitors are doing and what they aren’t doing. You can use your business solutions to fill those gaps in the market and offer your customers products and services that they are crying out for.
Putting a growth strategy in place will help you to achieve your goal of growing your business. One growth strategy you can try for your business could be to offer new products and services.
If you’re a coffee shop, for example, you might consider offering a new range of luxury hot chocolates or delicious home-made cakes. If you run a fitness studio, you could team up with a physio, sports masseur or nutritionist to provide a new service that is of benefit to your customers.
Another option is to open up your products and services in new markets – if you’re a clothing brand that specialises in womenswear and menswear, you might consider branching out into kids’ clothes. Of course, this will require planning and research to make sure you’re going down the right route but it could be beneficial for your business.
If you’re looking to grow your business, you’ll need the funds in place to make it happen. The bigger your business grows, the more capital you will need for the likes of salaries, equipment, inventory and more.
There are numerous avenues you can explore if you’re looking for funding to grow your firm. You can try your local bank – business managers are there to help you as your plan for growth. However, if you don’t have success there, try turning to government grants and other alternative finance options, such as venture capital trusts, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, angel investors and venture capitalists.
Recruiting for growth
When your business grows, there will likely be a need for more employees to get things moving. Recruiting for growth is an important part of the puzzle.
Your business might even be in the situation where you’ve not had any employees before but an increase in work means you need more hands on deck.
David Lockie was in a similar situation a few years ago. The founder of UK digital agency Pragmatic has revealed how he went from freelancing to hiring his first employee. And as his business expanded, he had new challenges and another story to tell – find out more as his reveals how he grew his business to a team of 50.
Hiring the right people can help your business go a long way if you’re looking to grow. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process but it does take planning to get it right. And, like running your business, you might make mistakes along the way but you’ll learn from them.
When taking on new people, make sure they fit your company’s culture as well as have the right skills to help you on your mission.
It’s also worth turning to people who have recently graduated from university. By recruiting graduates, you will have access to talent that is keen for the opportunity to learn and grow as your business does.
This article on employing the perfect person will help your business to take the right steps to recruit the key people who will be beneficial to you.
Growing and running your business – are you ready?
There are lots of steps to take on the path to grow your business – along with more processes that you’ll need to consider.
However, help is at hand in the form of business experts such as accountants and mentors who can assist you as you keep building. And remember, your finances will become even more important as you balance payroll with covering inventory, dealing with invoices and sorting your payment systems.
But these are exciting times for you as your run your business. Having the ambition to see it grow will pay dividends for you and everyone in your workforce.
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I launched a business while living in a shed