Growth & Customers
10 ways to expand your business without extra investment
Business ideas without investment
It’s the dream scenario: expand your business without having to pour more money in. But is this possible?
The short answer is yes – but only by ensuring that every aspect of your organization is geared towards promoting and supporting expansion. We take a look at ten measures that can help you achieve this:
1. Hiring a skilled and diverse workforce
Effective people are the key to any successful business, so it’s vital that you have a clear view of everyone’s role and skill set. Before you go to the expense of recruiting new people, assess your needs and look in-house first. Dedicated HR software can help you do this via detailed list functions that outline positions, as well as previous experience/recent training.
You may be able to cut costs by engaging specialist freelancers for some projects, too. Whenever you are recruiting, keep your long-term goals in mind and look to secure people willing and able to step in to help you achieve these goals.
2. Using the right business management software
Software is key to growth because it offers you an all-encompassing view of your business – from the financials and stock levels to customer behavior. Opting for Software as a Service (SaaS)
ensures you have the right tools in place without incurring the usual expense. Make sure that any software you use can scale with you and is operating at optimum efficiency by automating as many processes as you can – introduce automatic billing, for example, and regular reporting.
Review your use of software solutions such as your accounting, payroll or customer relationship management software to ensure that your business is getting the most from it. You can assess your business with a few simple questions to see how you could become more efficient.
3. Boosting cash flow
It’s the bane of businesses both big and small – the world over. Keeping the cash flowing is vital to the well-being of any business, but when you’re looking to scale it’s also a potential resource that will save you having to apply for additional funds elsewhere.
Maximizing your reporting functions will give you a clear picture of the financials – highlighting any late invoicing or late payers, as well as identifying where resources are being tied up in stock management. Cashflow-boosting measures to consider include are offering early bird discounts for customers who pay invoices before the due date. The right business software solution can bring everything together, your accounts, better cash flow and easier ways of working.
4. Good planning
Left unchecked, growth can easily have a detrimental effect on a business – with your current infrastructure simply unable to meet this new demand. This could put you in the very risky position of disappointing existing customers in favor of the new. It’s vital then that any expansion is recognized and carefully monitored – this is no time for a ‘let’s see where it takes us’ mentality.
Update your business plan to ensure that you have a good grasp of the effect a booming product could have and account for it. Understand where you want to be in the long term and put together a decisive roadmap to get you there. This includes a regular review of market trends to highlight the relevant opportunities for your business.
5. Talking with customers
Your customers are in a unique position to be able to give you the feedback needed to grow your business – so make sure you continue the conversation with them. Research shows 68% of customers will leave a review if asked. Build ‘touch points’ into your marketing and online presence and make giving feedback quick and easy for them.
This kind of conversation will not only provide you with some crucial pointers on how well you’re doing but boost their confidence in your commitment to them and encourage referrals. Consider putting together a referral email/testimonial that satisfied customers are able to pass on with very little effort. Don’t make it a one-way street either: wherever appropriate, refer your own customers – it will strengthen the relationship.
6. Getting online
Chances are you’ve already got the website and mobile technology in place, but are you harnessing it to full effect? Done properly, content management is an excellent way of updating customers about products and reaching out to new ones. Explore what could work for your business and devise an appropriate strategy.
This could include having a regular ‘surgery’ for customers to post questions to your company experts, as well as product alerts and targeted discounts. Embrace the negative whenever necessary and use it as a way of repairing relationships and impressing upon potential customers that you will listen. Whatever platforms you go with, make sure you jump in with both feet. If there’s one thing web users are able to sniff out in the space of a page impression, it’s a half-hearted post.
7. Opting for the cloud
Running your business from the cloud offers flexibility and cost efficiencies. With software, access and secure storage all available as and when required, this is an excellent option for companies who want the ability to scale without the burden of having to commit to costly new hardware or software. Running a cloud-based infrastructure that utilizes accounting software will also help reduce your employees’ reliance on office-based systems and provide opportunities for working on the go.
8. Build an email list from the start
While having a social media presence can be a great way to reach people en masse, capturing customers’ emails from the start can be a great way to encourage repeat business. A Harris Interactive study indicated that customers are more likely to make additional purchases due to emails based on prior purchases and behaviors. Building an email list of customers can alert them to special offers, building a lasting relationship.
9. Leverage your existing customers for growth
Piggybacking off of building an email list from your existing customer base, those emails can include incentives to share your products and services with others. Let customers know you value them and would appreciate them offering honest recommendations of your offerings on sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, or Google Reviews. Your existing customers may be able to offer word-of-mouth recommendations to people they know, as well as reach others they’ve never met before if they’re inclined to share reviews of your products or services online.
10. Educate your customers
Building a loyal clientele isn’t just about giving them more products to purchase. Educating your customers can go a long way toward building trust and nurturing a healthy relationship. Giving them insights and ways to use current products or more general, seasonal tips with their well-being in mind can keep you top-of-mind as a leader in your space.
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