Many entrepreneurs are entirely happy to operate small but profitable businesses with loyal, handpicked customer bases.
However, if you’re not on the lookout for new customers, then you’re at greater risk of problems should you lose an existing customer or even customers, so here are a few tips to stay out in front and potentially grow your business.
1 Improve your products and services.
As good as you may be, there is always room for improvement. Get customer feedback and implement changes to reflect their needs, make yourself invaluable and increase the profitability of each and every customer to successfully grow your business.
2 Focus your marketing on existing customers.
It is often easier to grow a business by working with existing customers than to win a piece of new business. By persuading one-off customers to buy again and again, winning back customers who have moved on, and increasing order volumes, you can transform your bottom line.
3 Diversify your business.
By branching out into complementary products or services, you can increase your turnover with each customer as well as cement their loyalty. Test marketing these solutions to your customers should indicate their level of interest and prevent you from making a costly misstep.
4 Invest in new business.
This may sound obvious, but many businesses take their foot off the accelerator during busy periods. Prospecting for a new business needn’t be expensive: in addition to online and offline marketing, you can ask your customers to recommend you to other individuals or companies who could benefit from your product or service and grow your business with little effort.
5 Consider a merger or alliance.
A merger, acquisition or more informal alliance with a complementary business can kick-start growth and create real synergy. Network widely within your industry and keep your ear to the ground for these kinds of opportunities to grow your business.
6 Consider opening another location.
Many companies and consumers prefer to deal with local businesses. Whilst the cost of premises can be high, opening a second or subsequent location could open up new geographical markets – and sometimes all it requires is a sales office with a couple of desks and a telephone.
7 Expand your online presence.
You almost certainly have a website already, but could it do with an upgrade? Could you expand your presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks? Online marketing can be a remarkably cost-effective way to increase your visibility, enhance customer loyalty, and grow your business.
8 Look at alternative lenders.
Finally, to grow your business you will need finance, and your bank may not be the best source. With lending criteria significantly tightened since the financial crash of 2008 and overdrafts being removed from SMEs at the rate of more than £5 million a day, banks are no longer the first resort for many small businesses. Use an alternative lender and you can choose between emergency loans (where you have the funds in your account inside 24 hours, providing an alternative to an overdraft), asset-based finance (where you borrow against the value of your premises, plant or equipment) and invoice factoring and discounting (where you can borrow up to around 85% of the value of your invoices as soon as you issue them, with repayment being made when your customers pay you